Monday, May 20, 2013

Koch's $23M buys kid gloves from public TV

Sadly, this film was never finished, probably because of Koch influence.

A shocking New Yorker story by Jane Mayer describes the chilling effect David Koch's donations have on public television.

Koch, one of the notorious Benedict Arnold Koch brothers, has donated $23 million to PBS over the years. He's a trustee of Boston’s public-broadcasting operation, WGBH. Seven years ago, he joined the board of New York PBS outlet, WNET.

So when the president of WNET's president Neil Shapiro recently found out that the station would air a documentary about David Koch and other filthy rich residents of 740 Park Ave., he tried to control the damage. He offered Koch unusual opportunities to rebut the film, inviting him to a roundtable discussion immediately after it aired. As Mayer put it, that's like printing letters to the editor after a front page newspaper story.

Soon after 740 Park aired, the funding mysteriously dried up for another film intended for  PBS. Called "Citizen Koch," it described the toxic influence of the Kochs' money in politics, with an emphasis on the uprising in Wisconsin.

DSWright at firedoglake puts it bluntly:
...two public television affiliated documentaries prominently featuring the Koch family came under pressure to be censored and edited due to fear that Charles and David Koch, major donors to public media, would withdraw support. 
One film by Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney, Park Aveneue: Money, Power & The American Dream, received unprecedented scrutiny and was almost pulled while another, Citizen Koch, was subject to such extensive editing by public television representatives that the film ultimately collapsed.
We can see why David Koch would be ticked off at 740 Park. Here's this gem, reported by Mayer:
...At one point, a former doorman—his face shrouded in shadow, to preserve his anonymity—says that when he “started at 740” his assumption was that “come around to Christmastime I’m going to get a thousand from each resident. You know, because they are multibillionaires. But it’s not that way.” He continues, “These guys are businessmen. They know what the going rate is—they’re not going to give you anything more than that. The cheapest person over all was David Koch. We would load up his trucks—two vans, usually—every weekend, for the Hamptons . . . multiple guys, in and out, in and out, heavy bags. We would never get a tip from Mr. Koch. We would never get a smile from Mr. Koch. Fifty-dollar check for Christmas, too—yeah, I mean, a check! At least you could give us cash.”)