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Koch Brothers

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  • How Will The "Unabashed Koch Fans" At Morning Joe Cover New Reports About The Koch Brothers?

    ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    A series of reports about industrialists Charles and David Koch revealed that the brothers have advocated for decriminalizing white-collar crime, conduct "competitive intelligence" gathering on liberal groups and activists, and donated millions of dollars in 2014 to conservative groups that back Republicans and to anti-choice and anti-gay organizations. How will the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe, who have called the billionaires "awesome" and a "godsend," cover these stories?

  • Pro-Koch CBS Analyst Received $1.5 Million From The Kochs

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    A newly-released IRS filing reveals that a central group in Charles and David Koch's financial network paid CBS News analyst Frank Luntz's firm roughly $1.5 million in 2014 for messaging work. Luntz recently used his CBS platform to praise Koch donor conference attendees as symbolizing "the American dream," and defend the Kochs' spending -- without disclosing that he's benefited from their largesse.

  • 10 Of The Worst Moments From Morning Joe's Fawning Koch Brothers Interview

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Morning Joe's interview "exclusive, first-ever joint interview" with industrialists Charles and David Koch was full of softball questions and worshipful praise. They also gave the Koch brothers a pass for claiming they oversee one of "the safest and environmentally protective" companies. The fawning interview follows months of pro-Koch coverage by the MSNBC hosts.

  • Morning Joe's Pro-Koch Coverage Pays Off With "Exclusive, First-Ever Joint Interview"

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski's tireless efforts to defend industrialists Charles and David Koch have paid off: the Koch brothers have granted them "an exclusive, first-ever joint interview" on MSNBC. The Morning Joe crew has called David Koch "a godsend," portrayed the billionaires as similar to "most Americans" in their political views, and dismissed attacks over their dark money spending as "stupid" and "embarrassing."

  • The Overlooked Dirty Energy Money Behind Solar Net Metering Battles, And Why It Matters

    Blog ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    solar roof

    Across the country, state and local lawmakers are battling over a solar energy policy called net metering. But while the reasons for disagreement vary from place to place, several share a common and oft-unreported thread: Many attacks on the solar policy are supported by fossil fuel interests.

    Net metering allows customers who have installed rooftop solar panels to generate their own electricity and send what they don't use into the electric grid for others to use -- like during the day, when the sun is shining but a family is at work or school. In exchange for the electricity provided to the grid, the customer gets a credit applied to their utility bill. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council has explained that solar panels "predictably produce energy during peak hours of the day, supporting the grid when most needed," and that net metering makes solar energy a "viable financial investment for many consumers." The policy has widespread support from liberals and conservatives alike, and has even spurred an offshoot of the Tea Party, called the "Green Tea Coalition," which connects environmentalists with Tea Partiers in support of net metering.

    The amount of credit solar energy users receive, however, is the subject of fierce debate in states across the country. Utilities have been pushing for legislation to roll back net metering credits by adding a cap or charging a flat fee for solar users. Net metering poses a distinct challenge for utilities because it disrupts their long-standing monopoly in the electricity market.

    Moreover, net-metered solar energy cuts into utilities' profits; with more distributed solar energy in the electric grid, utilities have no reason to invest in and build new power plants. As the Energy & Policy Institute's Matthew Kasper told The Washington Post, distributed solar energy prevents "the need to build new, expensive power plants or transmission lines." He added, "Utilities make their money by building big, new infrastructure projects and then sending ratepayers the bill, which is exactly why utilities want to eliminate solar."

    In coverage of net metering battles, the media has largely focused on opposition from utilities. But there are larger forces at play: Outside interests are influencing the battle through front groups and legislation. Here are just a few of the groups inserting themselves into net metering battles:

    Americans for Prosperity, which was created by the Koch brothers and acts as their political arm, has fought against net metering in Georgia and Florida, and pushed misleading claims that net metering policies "have resulted in rate hikes and did not result in solar becoming more economically viable." In March, PolitiFact rated this claim "Pants on Fire" and called it "completely wrong."

    Consumer Energy Alliance, which has received over $400,000 from the American Petroleum Institute and been affiliated with fossil fuel giants including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy, and others, produced a phony petition in 2014 that attacked Wisconsin's net metering policy.

    The Institute for Energy Research, which has received funding from ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Koch brothers' political network, released a report earlier this year claiming that net metering only benefits higher-income households.

    The National Black Chamber of Commerce, which has received $1 million in funding from the ExxonMobil Foundation, recently claimed (falsely) that Louisiana's net metering policies shift costs onto low-income families.

    The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate front group that connects fossil fuel industry executives with legislators to push model bills serving industry interests, has released a resolution on net metering, calling it "antithetical to free markets."

    Several other fossil fuel front groups have been fighting against net metering, as detailed in a report by the Energy & Policy Institute:

    EPI

    The involvement of these groups, who don't appear to have direct ties with local utilities, may seem strange. But not when you consider that net metering policies are causing an unprecedented increase in solar energy use and thereby helping wean Americans off fossil fuels.

    From 2010 to 2014, the amount of annual solar photovoltaic (PV) installations roughly increased by a factor of seven, and the U.S. had a record quarter for solar photovoltaics installations in the second quarter of 2015, reaching a total installed capacity high enough to power over four million homes.  Meanwhile, prices have dropped rapidly over the past 10 years: the cost of installing solar is now 73 percent lower than it was in 2006.  

    Nine of the 10 states with the most solar electricity installed per capita also have strong net metering policies. But policies to roll back net metering are already impacting solar companies. One company, Vivint, scrapped its plans to expand to Nevada after the state changed its policy to cap net metering at what solar advocates call an unreasonably low limit.  Massachusetts' net metering cap poses a similar threat to the solar industry there.

    Attack campaigns against net metering could halt the expansion of a clean energy industry that threatens the fossil fuel interests usually behind those attacks. Media coverage of net metering debates should make that fact loud and clear, so the public knows the real identity of who's against net metering, and why.

    Photo at top from Flickr user Wayne National Forest with a Creative Commons license. 

  • The Koch Brothers' Campaign Against EPA Climate Safeguards Is In Your Newspaper

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    At least 16 U.S. newspapers have recently published op-eds by state officials of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch brothers' political advocacy group, urging state legislatures to oppose the EPA's plan to address climate change by limiting carbon pollution from power plants. These newspapers have consistently failed to disclose the authors' oil industry ties, and the op-eds themselves "misleadingly" cite statistics on electricity prices from an industry-funded study, as a media fact-checker has explained.

  • How The Merchants Of Doubt Push Climate Denial On Your Television

    Blog ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    Merchants of Doubt

    A new documentary shows how a "professional class of deceivers" has been paid by the fossil fuel industry to cast doubt on the science of climate change, in an effort akin to that from the tobacco industry, which for decades used deceitful tactics to deny the scientific evidence that cigarettes are harmful to human health. The film, Merchants of Doubt, explores how many of the same people that once lobbied on behalf of the tobacco industry are now employed in the climate denial game.

    An infamous 1969 memo from a tobacco executive read: "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy." Using similar tactics, a very small set of people have had immense influence in sowing doubt on the scientific consensus of manmade climate change in recent years.

    Merchants of Doubt features five prominent climate science deniers who have been particularly influential in deceiving the public and blocking climate action. Their financial connections to the fossil fuel industry are not hard to uncover. Yet major U.S. television networks* -- CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, ABC, CBS, and PBS -- have given most of these deniers prominent exposure over the past several years. 

    Merchant of Doubt

    Number of TV Appearances, 2009-2014

    Marc Morano

    30

    James Taylor

    8

    Fred Singer

    8

    Tim Phillips

    7

    Now that these Merchants of Doubt have been exposed, the major cable and network news programs need to keep them off the airwaves, a sentiment echoed by Forecast the Facts, which recently launched a petition demanding that news directors do just that.