The Koch Brothers and the Berlusconi Factor


b. traven

I just read that David Koch (of the infamous brothers) was on the board of the New York “public” TV station WNET.  And just incidentally he is the biggest contributor, to the tune of around $25 million, to PBS.  He was just outed in New York Magazine as influencing content of that station – and subsequently resigned from the board.

We should note that PBS standards have this to say about outside influence on programming: “Member stations are responsible for shielding the creative and editorial process from political pressure or the influence of funders.” David Shapiro, the president of the NY PBS station apparently never read this and rushed to David Koch’s defense. And let us not leave out that great “liberal” Senator from NY, Chuck Schumer, the friend of Hedge Fund managers, who had his staff contact Shapiro’s office to possibly kill the film because it exposed his role.

Directly – or indirectly – Koch succeeded, after missing the opportunity on an earlier exposé, Park Avenue, Money, Power, and the American Dream, in getting that “public” station to pressure the sponsoring agency, ITVS, to pull the funding on a new documentary in production – Citizen Koch (and a reference to the controversy on Wikipedia).

For that measly $25 million this billionaire was able to gain unprecedented control over what is supposed to be our, the public’s, information outlet. They could buy this unprecedented control on the cheap but when they went after the Chicago Tribune company chump change wouldn’t do and their offer was in the range of three quarters of a billion dollars.

Clearly the Kochs’ want to do an Italian job on the American media by following  Berlusconi’s success in Italy.  Berlusconi, the former President of Italy, owns much of the TV and print media in that country, and has used it very much to his ongoing political advantage.

With their pittance of $25 million to PBS and NPR, the Kochs are buying access to an educated liberal audience, and with the billions of dollars for the Tribune company and its TV and newspaper properties in many cities  they can influence the mass of citizens.  They will then have the same tools Berlusconi uses to control Italian politics.

Because someone has the “right” to do something doesn’t necessarily make it RIGHT for the society they live in.

Which Koch brother will run for President?   Are you concerned?  And when can we expect the kind of “Bunga Bunga” parties Berlusconi and his tribe indulged in?

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