Reporters Shocked When Their Targets Talk Back

kochs-sons-of-wichitaMedia Matters has an interesting interview with Daniel Schulman, an editor at Mother Jones who has written a book on the Koch brothers. The main topic of the interview is Koch Industries’ aggressive response to journalists who try to smear the company and its owners:

“In terms of the general P.R. operation, I think that KochFacts itself has been pretty effective at giving reporters pause,” Schulman said. “Now you know that every email you send is going to find, could find its way on to that website.”

It is interesting that it “gives [journalists] pause” to know that the statements they make to Koch representatives, and the information they get from Koch, could be made public. Shouldn’t they assume this about all of the stories they write?

He also pointed to other intimidating approaches the company has taken against the press, including “taking out web ads lambasting reporters such as Jane Mayer and others which is sort of shocking to us in the press to be treated like that. Their argument is that they feel like they are really getting beaten up in the press and they have to take action.”

Again, it is interesting to learn that reporters are shocked when they lie about the subject of a news story, and the subject fights back by publicizing the truth. With respect to the reprehensible Ms. Mayer, see the letter that Koch wrote to the New Yorker requesting corrections to her hit piece on Charles and David Koch and their company.

It is always a little disconcerting when you are reading an article and come across a reference to yourself:

Schulman cites as an ally for the Kochs, hinting that they seem to get their hands on company information and documents others could not.

“John Hinderaker [Powerline’s editor] is quite frequently coming to their defense and sort of rebutting stories about the Kochs,” Schulman said, citing a recent Washington Post story about Koch Industries’ link to the Keystone pipeline, a report Hinderaker blasted. “He certainly quoted Mark Holden, the general counsel of Koch Industries and has in the past received internal documents from Koch Industries to push back.”

Yes: on the one hand you have the Washington Post, the New York Times, pretty much every other daily newspaper and news magazine, the New Yorker, MSNBC, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Center for American Progress, and many others, all attacking Koch Industries and its owners. On the other hand you have…me, a handful of others on the internet, and Koch’s own web site. And reporters consider it shocking that Koch has such extraordinary resources to fight back against their myriad lies and misrepresentations!

Still, I am glad to see that Schulman acknowledges the force of our rebuttal to the Post’s shoddy reporting on Keystone. We are still waiting for a response to our many inquiries of the Post’s reporters, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, as to whether they coordinated their false attack on Charles and David Koch with representatives of the Democratic Party. I guess you can draw your own conclusions from their silence.

As Mr. Schulman says, I have friends at Koch Industries who have, on a number of occasions, shared facts with me (which they usually have also publicized on KochFacts) that disprove false and misleading claims peddled by reporters and other political opponents. It appears that many reporters consider it dirty pool for the people they attack to respond to smears with facts–which tells you all you need to know about the state of modern journalism.

Finally, while Schulman’s comments tell us a great deal about journalists and how they view the Kochs, I haven’t read his book and have no knowledge as to its fairness, or lack thereof.