Liberal Filmmaker Decries David Koch's $100 Million Donation to NY Theater as Attempt to 'Destroy Democracy'

Liberals endlessly harp on what they perceive as conservatives' greed. What really sticks in their craw is conservatives' generosity.

An example of this occurred on Ed Schultz's radio show Monday with guest Robert Greenwald, a filmmaker specializing in left-wing agitprop at an outfit he modestly calls Brave New Films.

Greenwald was describing a website he recently created, Koch Brothers Exposed, about energy magnates David and Charles Koch. The site includes a video of protesters outside a Lincoln Center theater named after David Koch when he pledged $100 million for badly-needed renovations three years ago. The demonstrators staged a "renaming ceremony" demanding the theater shed Koch from its name.

Here's Greenwald elaborating on this to Schultz --

GREENWALD: Well, we launched the Koch Brothers Exposed website, Facebook page and Twitter about two months ago when we first started with a video telling people the five worst things the Kochs had done. We got thousands of people responding to that. And then the other night in New York City we had a renaming ceremony. David Koch gave $100 million to call the New York State Theater in his name, David Koch Theater, and we had people out there with signs saying what it really should be called. We have people now on the Facebook and the website voting on what the real name of the theater should be, everything from I Killed The Middle Class, which was one of my favorites, to the Unclean Energy, to I'm Just Not That Into You Democracy. And if you go to the Koch Brothers Exposed website or Facebook page, you can kind of join.

Now there's obviously satire there, Ed, but there's an important point behind it. And the important point is that these are, as you know and as a lot of your listeners know, they're giving hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy democracy, to buy their ideology, and to literally propagandize people. And it's very important that we use all the possible tools to educate people, to inform them, and to satirize what they're doing and how they're doing it.

Obviously there's satire involved here, Ed, and just as obviously it could not be more churlish. I noticed in the "renaming ceremony" video at Koch Brothers Exposed that none of the protesters demanded the theater return the donation from Koch. Then again, why would they? Far better to reap the benefits of that donation while also maligning of a man whose politics they abhor. In other words, liberalism in a nutshell.

Greenwald then quickly glossed over Koch's philanthrophic generosity over the years and suggested Koch is motivated by little more than playing political puppet-master on the right --

SCHULTZ: Pretty amazing what's going on. They must have someone who's organizing all of this in a team of people who are really watchdogs on issues and candidates in what we would call problem spots for them. How, I mean, I can't believe that the Koch brothers would be sitting down watching the cables every night and looking at all the websites, hey listen (in guise of Kochs' voices), we gotta throw two million over here! Well, we gotta throw another three, four, oh holy smokes, this guy polled well over in this state! Throw $5 million at this thing! How do they function? What do they do?

GREENWALD: Well, they're actually very smart about their giving and very deep about their giving. First, they fund ideas through the think tanks. Then they fund people to take those ideas and go on television and cable to talk about it. Then they fund activist groups to take those ideas and work them. And then finally, they fund the elected officials. But they don't focus on the elected officials 'cause they're much smarter than that. They know that elected officials, in their words, read from a script. What they want to be able to do is write the script for the elected officials (to) read from.

Greenwald gets to "and then finally" and leaves out what is most awkward for him on this -- the Kochs have donated far more to cultural endeavors,  education and medical research than they have to bolster their politics.

In a September 2010 Politics Daily column, Matt Lewis wrote --

To be sure, the Kochs have given "more than a hundred million dollars to right wing causes" (which is their right, by the way). [blogger's note -- Lewis was quoting from a New Yorker profile of the Kochs by Jane Mayer]. But in the last decade, it's also worth noting the Kochs have given more than $600 million (emphasis in original) in pledged or donated money to arts, education, and medical research, including (but not limited to):

-- New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell: $15 million

-- M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: $25 million

-- The Hospital for Special Surgery: $26 million

-- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: $30 million

-- Prostate Cancer Foundation: $41 million

-- Deerfield Academy: $68 million

-- Lincoln Center's NY State Theater: $100 million

-- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: $139 million

When liberals redistribute wealth through confiscatory taxation, they call it democracy. When conservatives donate their wealth, liberals call it destroying democracy.

The Lincoln Center theater isn't the only recipient of David Koch's philanthropy that bears his name -- so do the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and the David H. Koch Cancer Research Building at Johns Hopkins. Something tells me, though, that Greenwald and his pinched, resentful cohorts won't be staging renaming ceremonies at either location.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts