A Low-Key News Story That Is Completely Insane

This news story in the business section of the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times, is boring in the extreme. It reports on the fact that Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission is about to announce the selection of a Louisiana company, Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., a subsidiary of The Shaw Group, to manage the state’s Focus on Energy program. That’s a yawner, to say the least. Here is the lede:

The state Public Service Commission is poised Friday to approve selection of a Louisiana corporation with a history of environmental violations to manage Wisconsin’s popular Focus on Energy program.
Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., a subsidiary of the Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, was selected by an evaluation committee that included four representatives of Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities.

So far, so dull. But the Capital Times immediately gets to the good stuff:

Shaw also has some ties to Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kan., firm that has been a big booster of embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But there is no indication that Koch Industries would profit from the deal.

This drive-by reference is the only time Koch Industries is mentioned in the Capital Times article. Which makes sense: Koch has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Shaw won the contract; there is no suggestion that Koch bid on it or has anything whatsoever to do with it. So why is the Capital Times gratuitously dragging Koch into the story?
The only possible answer is that the Left is obsessed with Koch Industries. It is an article of faith that everything that happens somehow relates to Koch. So, if a particular story has nothing at all to do with Koch, it makes perfect sense to note, gratuitously, that “there is no indication that Koch Industries would profit from the deal.” Well, no: the deal went to The Shaw Group. The Capital Times could just as well have said that there is no indication that the state’s teachers’ union would profit from the contract.
This is complete lunacy, but lunacy with a purpose. The Capital Times is no doubt aware that, only a week or so ago, just about every liberal in America, from Paul Krugman on up, was peddling the silly claim that Governor Scott Walker’s budget was a clever ruse to enrich Koch Industries by selling the state’s heating and cooling plants to that company, cheap. Never mind, as we noted here, that the plants are unprofitable dogs that may have negative value, that Koch is not in the business of owning or running such plants, that the state will be lucky to find someone on whom to foist the creaky properties, or that Koch has publicly stated that it has no interest in them whatsoever. The Left was convinced that Governor Walker’s budget was all about a giveaway to Koch Industries.
So, back to the Capital Times. Its gratuitous reference to Koch Industries in the midst of a story about a contract being awarded to The Shaw Group–“there is no indication that Koch Industries would profit from the deal”–is exactly of a piece with the Left’s delusional obsession with Wisconsin’s power plants. By dragging Koch into a piece about a contract with Shaw, the Capital Times dutifully genuflected in the direction of the Left’s obsession du jour. The paper punched its ticket as a loyal member of the journalistic left. And if you were to ask the reporter, I suspect he would be proud of having done so.


Books to read from Power Line