Share

Beltway Confidential

Why do the Koch Brothers get all the sunshine?

By |
Photo -
Beltway Confidential,Mark Tapscott

Here's a couple of data points that bear serious thought this week by transparency advocates celebrating Sunshine Week and by everybody else who cares about protecting and preserving a free and independent press:

1,130 - Number of results for search term "Koch Brothers" on The New York Times web site.

64 - Number of results for search term "The Tides Foundation" on The New York Times web site.

For the few stray souls out there who don't know, the Koch Brothers are Charles and David, principals of the Koch corporate conglomerate and chief bete noirs of President Obama, liberal journalists covering national politics and Citizens United obsessives everywhere.

It's equally certain that few reading this post know anything at all about the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, even though its roots go deep into the radical student movement of the 1960s and it has helped fund or startup virtually every significant liberal, progressive and radical cause in the years since.

Similar results appear from the same searches on The Washington Post web site, which turns up 277 links to the Koch Brothers and 11 for Tides. And on the New Yorker web site, Koch Brothers generated 35 links and none for Tides.

The contrast was even more dramatic on the Common Cause site, where the Koch Brothers were linked 4,560 times versus one for Tides.

What do these search results tell us? Only that it appears the Koch Brothers are of vastly heightened interest to two of America's greatest daily newspapers and to the dean of campaign finance reform advocacy organizations than is the Tides Foundation.

Which is curious, considering that it is all but certain nobody in these two August newsrooms or among the leadership of Common Cause would reject the proposition that "the rich" have far too much influence in American politics, thanks to their wealth.

Consider these numbers, derived from multiple searches of foundation grant databases, IRS Form 990s and other public records:

Three Koch foundations made a total of 181 grants worth $25,405,525 in 2010 (most recent available records). The one Tides Foundation made a total of 2,627 grants worth $143,529,590 in 2010.

Put otherwise, for every one grant made by a Koch foundation, Tides made more than five grants.

There are important qualifications to these numbers, including that the two Koch brothers also contributed to numerous political candidates, there may be other Koch-controlled foundations that didn't surface in this study, not all of the grants included here went to political or ideological groups or causes, and the two men may have significant influence on yet other foundations not under their direction.

What is crystal clear is this: The Koch Brothers get vastly more attention from two of the nation's elite media outlets and the grand sire of the "too much money corrupts" school of campaign finance reform than an obscure foundation that bankrolls multiple legions of leftist political groups and causes.

Might we conclude then that, like the collectivized creatures of Animal Farm, some of the rich money in American politics is more equal than others?

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.

View article comments Leave a comment