At the New Yorker, Jane Mayer recounts an episode in the ongoing PR rehabilitation of fossil fuel billionaires Charles and David Koch where they got an assist from the morning team at the ‘liberal’ cable news network.

Charles shared the stage with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, the co-hosts of the MSNBC cable show “Morning Joe,” whom Koch Industries had chosen to serve as moderators. The audience laughed as Koch recalled such boyhood misadventures as his expulsion from military school. He amiably described early business mistakes, and he pointedly criticized Republicans as well as Democrats. He complained that many Republicans in Congress weren’t doing enough to “hold the lid on defense spending,” because they had been corrupted by having “big military contracts in their districts” for “weapons that the military doesn’t want, like tanks, certain airplanes.” He expressed a general disdain for politics, noting that whenever anyone told him he should run for President he responded, “What did I ever do to make you hate me?”

Right! Other than supporting the John Birch Society while it smeared Martin Luther King, Jr., touting Holocaust denial in their magazine, funding the Tea Party movement into existence, spending a billion dollars on right wing electoral politics in this cycle alone, creating ‘libertarian’ organizations that fund authoritarian bigotry, their decades-long campaign of global warming denial, their efforts to privatize public lands and install their ideology on campus, not to mention their massive pollution of the air and water, what have poor Charles and his brother ever done to make anyone hate them?

The Koch brothers do nothing altruistically, especially altruism, and their money doesn’t always go where their mouths are. Just as his personal feelings about marriage equality do not track with his actual generosity towards anti-gay ‘social welfare’ nonprofits and his professed disdain for politics does not match his actual political spending, Charles talks about defense budgets this way while investing in politicians who never saw a weapon system they didn’t like. When he talks about sentencing reform, it’s not out of concern for, say, the racial disparities of American law enforcement. Rather, the Kochs just want to decriminalize their white collar world of tax avoidance, toxic securities, and greenhouse gases. And make us all love them for it.

  • muselet

    The Koch brothers present a case study in the corrosive effects of inherited wealth (as does Donald Trump, on a smaller scale): they grew up wealthy, inherited a very profitable corporation from their father, concluded they were wealthy because of some innate skill or virtue that is unique to them, and now do everything they can to cling to as much of their (not inconsiderable) wealth and power as possible.

    I don’t blame the Kochs for making trying to soften their image. I only hope the effort doesn’t work.

    –alopecia