Fox News Hides Koch Funding Influence To Shield Billionaires From Criticism

Doug McKelway

Fox News minimized the influence of political spending by the Koch brothers in order to paint Democrats as hypocrites on the issue of campaign finance.

After championing the impact Koch ad money has had on shaping public opinion on Obamacare during the April 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report, correspondent Doug McKelway hid the influence Koch Industries' funding actually has on elections. McKelway cited an list of the “top all-time donors,” emphasizing that despite the $30 million spent on advertisements, the list ranks Koch Industries as only 59th out of 156 donors. In an attempt to attack Democrats as hypocrites for their criticisms of the Koch brothers' political spending, McKelway highlighted the fact that the top donor on Open Secret's list was ActBlue, a Democratic PAC: 

But McKelway's use of the Open Secrets ranking is misleading and hides the colossal amount of political spending by the Koch brothers. McKelway neglected to note, as Open Secrets does in its list, that the ranking does not include donations to “politically active dark money groups, like Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to the Koch brothers.” Open Secrets reported that donations from Koch-linked groups accounted for more than one-fourth of all dark money spending in 2012.

It is highly misleading for McKelway to ignore this dark money spending. As The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn wrote, “the primary way the Kochs influence politics [is] through unregulated, indirect financing of conservative political organizations.” In the 2012 election alone, the Koch-founded nonprofit, Americans for Prosperity, spent $122 million and the rest of the Koch-backed network of politically active nonprofit groups raised $407 million.

Koch-linked dark money groups have already spent $25 to $30 million in advertisements targeting Democratic congressional candidates running in key 2014 races. To put this spending into perspective, The New Republic compared Koch campaign spending to that of unions, and found that the spending of one Koch brother or affiliate was the equivalent to the spending of 515,000 union members:

Measuring Political Influence

Fox News has a history of consistently minimizing the influence of political spending by the Koch brothers.