Whitehouse and Waxman Still Demagoguing Keystone

If you are a regular reader, you know the story: six months ago, a fringe left-wing group put out a silly report that tried to tie Koch Industries to the Keystone Pipeline. I debunked that report, pointing out that Keystone would actually be adverse to Koch’s economic interests and that Koch has taken no position on whether it should be built. No one heard anything more about that report until around four weeks ago, when the Washington Post published a thoroughly dishonest article by Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, based entirely on the discredited October report, which suggested that Koch would be the big beneficiary of the Keystone pipeline.

I took that article apart here. The Post, embarrassed, published an explanation of why they printed the false article–it was to “inflame public debate in this election year”–and I responded to that explanation here. The Post published a single correction to the paper’s entirely false story, and then fell silent.

But by then, the other shoe had dropped: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Henry Waxman wrote a long letter to Koch Industries, asking a series of questions about Koch’s supposed relationship to Keystone, and requesting a long list of documents on the same topic. The letter repeatedly footnoted, as its justification, the Post’s article and the goofy report on which it was based. The light bulb went on: was the Post’s article a put-up job, planted by the Democratic Party via Whitehouse and Waxman and perhaps others, to serve as a pretext for politically-motivated harassment of Koch? Given that the Post story had no apparent news hook, and given Eilperin’s tight connections with the Democratic Party, the connection is more than plausible.

So I asked Eilperin, Mufson, Whitehouse and Waxman whether they had collaborated on the Post story. I sent them lists of questions and requests for documents on that subject, and many readers joined in with emails and tweets, asking them to respond to what appears to be a major journalistic scandal. They stonewalled. Neither the Post nor either reporter has acknowledged the many public requests for an explanation of the relationship between the reporters and the Democratic Party, including Whitehouse and Waxman, and also including Tom Steyer, one of their party’s principal money men, who has pledged $100 million to help Democratic candidates who oppose the pipeline. (Steyer, unlike Koch Industries, has a financial interest in the pipeline; his interest lies in seeing that it is not constructed.)

One might have thought that Whitehouse and Waxman, like the Post, would be embarrassed at having been caught in a fraud, and would be happy to let the matter drop. But no: instead, they have sent another letter to Koch Industries. This second missive complained that Koch has not fully answered the questions in the first letter. Actually, Koch’s response was crystal clear. We wrote about it here. One more time, this is the letter that Koch’s General Counsel, Mark Holden, sent to Whitehouse and Waxman. Among other things, it points out that our posts utterly destroyed the basis on which the Whitehouse/Waxman demands were premised. Click to enlarge:

Waxman Whitehouse Ltr_041014

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It really couldn’t be much clearer: “Koch reiterates that it has no ownership or investment interest in the Keystone XL Pipeline, it is not a proposed shipper or customer, and it has not taken any position with regard to any legislation before Congress concerning the Keystone XL Pipeline.” All of which is confirmed by the builder of the pipeline, TransCanada: Koch has “absolutely nothing to do with Keystone XL (KXL). They are neither a receiver nor a shipper on KXL and this has been confirmed repeatedly and publicly many times.”

In fact, Whitehouse and Waxman are perfectly well aware that Koch has nothing to do with Keystone. They are just lying for their party, like Eilperin and Mufson. They should be embarrassed to engage in such rank demagoguery, but, as Mick Jagger once said of a rock band that trashed a hotel, “They don’t embarrass easy.”

What needs to happen is clear: 1) Whitehouse and Waxman should apologize for harassing one of America’s best-run and most successful companies. 2) The Washington Post should not just correct in a single particular, but rather should retract and apologize for, its false and misleading article of March 20.

Since Whitehouse and Waxman insist on pursuing the issue–or rather, non-issue–we must do so as well. You can go here to send an email to Sheldon Whitehouse, asking that he apologize to Koch Industries and stop harassing that company. Waxman apparently doesn’t take emails from non-constituents (although, as we have seen, he is happy to harass non-constituents), but you can contact him by mail, phone or fax:

Henry Waxman
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3976
Fax: (202) 225-4099

The email addresses for the two Post reporters are:


They should be asked to retract their March 20 article in its entirety, and apologize for it. In addition, if they published that article in cooperation with, and at the behest of, Henry Waxman and Sheldon Whitehouse, they should communicate their retraction to those Democrats and ask them to stop harassing Koch Industries on the basis of a false report. Even more important, the same request should be made of Martin Baron, the Post’s Executive Editor:


This is all about the upcoming election, of course. The Democrats are in deep trouble. Committed representatives of the Democratic Party like Sheldon Whitehouse, Henry Waxman, Tom Steyer, Juliet Eilperin, Steven Mufson and Marty Baron know that they have to find a way to distract voters’ attention from the disastrous record of the Obama administration. Their endless attacks on the Koch brothers are patently stupid, but they hope they may nevertheless work with low-information voters. Please let these Democratic partisans know that you expect truth, not lies, from the nation’s Senators, Representatives and newspapers.