An Initial Step by the Private Sector to Use Interactive Public Dockets

The Washington Post reports on July 15:

“Unlike most companies, which tend to work out their differences with reporters behind the scenes, Koch (pronounced coke) often takes its feuds public using KochFacts [http://www.kochfacts.com/kf/ ] as its spearhead…..KochFacts also posts lengthy, point-by-point critiques of news stories and calls out reporters for alleged factual errors and biases”.

Upon first reading it appears that KochFacts is the initial stage of an Interactive Public Docket (IPD),  a communications mechanism championed by CRE for a number of years.

The interactive nature of the Koch website occurs through its “Contact” tab.

The challenge in the launch of any IPD is to get readers. What is most  important is not necessarily the total number of hits  but the demographics of the hits.

CRE hits are dominated by federal regulators, the White House, the press and Congressional staff. The aforementioned article in the Washington Post states:

“The company says it is able to reach ”key audiences” through the site, including the news media, elected officials and political organizations. The company advertises on two Web sites that are widely read by reporters—Poynter.org and Jimromenesko.com.”

Thus far the CRE IPD and KochFacts have many similarities. The single most important difference however is that CRE provides a third-party validation of an issue.

How does this third-party validation come about? CRE posts the article under review as a comment and invites the public to comment on the article. If a sufficient number of comments are received CRE prepares an analysis and posts it on the IPD.

To this end we have posted  below the most recent article on KochFacts  for comment.

 

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

 

 Charles Lewis, who founded the Center for Public Integrity with funding by George Soros, is now a tenured professor of journalism at American University.  On June 30, he posted a study that he and his students affiliated with AU’s Investigative Reporting Workshop compiled about Koch.  Thousands of words in length, the study repackages nearly every false and misleading attack leveled against Koch over the past couple of decades.

According to a story accompanying the study, Mr. Lewis and his classes at AU began working on this project in 2010.  In light of recent disclosures, it is clear this timing was not a coincidence. 2010 was the same year that Koch became the target of an orchestrated campaign by the Obama administration and the partisan Left, with thousands of stories and blog postings attacking us that were written by the Center for American Progress, Mother Jones, The New York Times, Huffington Post, and other agenda-driven bloggers and media.

To illustrate the orchestration, 2010 was also the year that:

Although the Investigative Reporting Workshop began working on the study in 2010, Koch Industries had no inquiry from Mr. Lewis until we received this email from him four days prior to the study’s release on the evening of June 26:

I would like to request an interview with either Charles Koch or David Koch, or both.

For over 30 years, I have been a journalist and I am a professor at American University in Washington; here is my bio. Since 2008, I have also been the founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop, the largest (out of 18) nonprofit reporting news organization based at a university in the U.S. and the only one in Washington, DC.

I would like to speak with one or both of them in detail about their extraordinary philanthropy over many years, in the context of nonprofit, public policy-related organizations throughout the U.S., and many related topics.

If possible, I’d like to speak with either of them in the days ahead.

Thanks very much for considering this request.

Best wishes,
Chuck Lewis

Mr. Lewis apparently gave another ideological ally, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker an advance look at his study, however, because on Thursday evening, June 27, she reached out to us with this inquiry:

If possible I’d like to get comment on a study being released by American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop on Sunday, which focuses on Koch Industries. We’re publishing a short blog item about the study’s findings regarding the “No Climate Tax Pledge” promoted by Americans for Prosperity. In essence the blog piece says the pledge has been successful in discouraging the House of Representatives from passing legislation tackling climate change. According to the study, 411 current office holders nation-wide have signed the pledge.

The blog story will quote Charles Lewis, Executive Editor of American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop saying that, “There is no other corporation in the U.S. today, in my view, that is as unabashedly, bare knuckle aggressive across the board about its own self-interest, in the political process, in the nonprofit policy advocacy realm, even increasingly in academia and the broader public marketplace of ideas.” 

Do you want to respond? We’d be glad to have a quote from you, or from anyone, reflecting the Kochs’ point of view. Please let me know if you’d like to add anything. We’ll close the blog tomorrow afternoon.

Many thanks.
All best wishes, Jane.

We declined to participate in either Mr. Lewis’s or Ms. Mayer’s stories as we knew they were predisposed to support a misleading and partisan point of view. Mr. Lewis has a long history of left-leaning advocacy journalism and has received funding in the past from left-wing donors as evidenced by his own webpage.  Ms. Mayer of The New Yorker has authored a number of ideologically-driven attacks on Koch and other job creators.

The study’s extreme bias and partisanship is exemplified by its reliance on an October 2011 Bloomberg Markets article that was debunked by us and widely discredited by many media outlets, including the Washington Post (three separate times), Bloomberg Business Week,and The Atlantic.

The study is filled with so many other inaccuracies and distortions that we won’t detail all of them here, since nearly all have been previously addressed on KochFacts. However, there are some overarching points we want to make:

Koch has been a consistent advocate for economic freedom and individual liberty, which benefits all people, for more than five decades regardless of which party was in power. Contrary to Mr. Lewis’ arguments, we take those positions even when the resulting policy would be detrimental to our short-term business interests, such as our longstanding opposition to subsidies of any kind. Government mandates and subsidies in energy are far more likely to result in corruption, cronyism and wasted resources than they are to foster innovations that benefit society. This is evidenced by the recent, well-documented failures of several government-subsidized alternative energy programs which cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

When it comes to the issue of climate change, for Mr. Lewis, or any others, to assert that all of the funding given by Charles Koch and David Koch has gone to “climate skeptic organizations” is inaccurate, sloppy, unsubstantiated and counter to honest reporting. Koch supports having an open, honest and science-based debate about the extent to which human activity is responsible for climate change. We are advocates for the critical review that is the foundation of sound science, and have funded a wide variety of organizations, causes and studies.

What Mr. Lewis did get right in his story is the one fact that Koch companies employ 60,000 people around the globe. Our employees make products and services that people want and need – things like fuels for transportation, energy to heat and cool buildings, fibers for high-quality carpets and garments, water filtration and pollution control equipment, fertilizer, consumer products, building materials and more – products that undoubtedly benefit Mr. Lewis and his partisan allies. We believe in the efficient use of all resources and are committed to maintaining a clean, safe and healthy environment as evidenced by the more than 700 awards we’ve received for safety, environmental excellence, community stewardship, innovation and customer service since January 2009 when the Obama Administration took office.

Even though the content is recycled and countervailing facts are omitted from the reporting, in keeping with the Left’s orchestration, we can count on one thing – that  Mr. Lewis’s study will be picked up in all the usual places.

 

 

10 comments. Leave a Reply

  1. Anonymous

    The article states that Mr. Lewis spoke with Koch only four days before article was published; what meaningful discussion could have taken place?

  2. Anonymous

    Is there going to be an investigation of Koch’s accusations?

  3. Anonymous

    I read with interest the Post’s account of the very inaccurate reporting of Bloomberg News regarding the operations of Koch Industries. If in fact this report is accurate I am astounded! Has any asked Bloomberg for their response?

  4. Anonymous

    Koch Brothers Target Critics With Website

    By: DSWright

    Funneling hundreds of millions into political campaigns, think-tanks, and astro-turf theater/Tea Parties has not satiated the Koch Brothers’ appetite for power. They also want to have the power to discredit critics of their activities. Thus their website KochFacts which seeks to counter news stories about the brothers and Koch Industries.

    Faced with news articles they consider flawed or biased, the brothers and their lieutenants don’t just send strongly worded letters to the editor in protest. Instead, the company takes the offensive, with detailed responses that oscillate between correcting, shaming and slamming journalists who’ve written unflattering stories about the company or the Kochs’ myriad political and philanthropic activities.

    All is fair in love and war right? And the Koch Brothers are surely at war with their critics.

    Unlike most companies, which tend to work out their differences with reporters behind the scenes, Koch (pronounced “coke”) often takes its feuds public, using KochFacts as its spearhead. Journalists who have run afoul of the Kochs will often see their personal e-mail exchanges with company executives posted, on the Koch Web site — sometimes to the reporters’ shock. KochFacts also posts lengthy, point-by-point critiques of news stories and calls out reporters for alleged factual errors and biases. A typical KochFacts headline from May: “New Yorker’s Jane Mayer Distorts the Facts and Misleads Readers Again.”

    This effort parallels the Koch Brothers’ other plan to silence critics – buying them out. The Kochs are in the process of bidding on the Tribune Company which publishes the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and other media properties. That comes after it was revealed that the Koch Brothers were receiving favorable treatment by PBS due to their generous contributions.

    The Koch Brothers may soon have a fully integrated system – politicians, policy planners, protesters and the press. Who would dare stand against such a war machine? Who could? The Kochs are proving once again that America is the best democracy money can buy

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