CBS Touts Dem Effort to Make Koch Brothers 'Public Enemy Number One'

Teasing an upcoming story Tuesday on a left-wing smear campaign against conservative donors Charles and David Koch, CBS This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell proclaimed: "Battling the Koch brothers, Democrats are fighting back against the family that spent more than $150 million trying to shake up Congress." Introducing the segment, fellow co-host Charlie Rose announced that "one of the best-known families in big-money politics is once again in the spotlight." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes told viewers: "They are the Koch brothers, both in their 70s and two of the wealthiest men in America. They've been giving to conservative and libertarian causes for a long time. But now, Democrats are trying to make them public enemy number one." The headline on screen read: "Big Money Brothers; Democrats Target Billionaires David & Charles Koch."

Amid a montage of Democrats decrying the Koch siblings, Cordes declared: "On Capitol Hill, there is one name on every Democrat's lips....The Senate's top Democrat Harry Reid mentions them in almost every speech, calling them shadowy and un-American."

A sound bite followed of Reid ranting: "The secretive Koch brothers....the Koch brothers are trying to buy America."

Cordes warned:

David and Charles Koch are the businessmen behind Koch Industries, a Kansas-based conglomerate that employs 100,000 people and brings in $115 billion annually. The brothers are also the chief backers of Americans for Prosperity, a powerful political action committee that spent $122 million in 2012 and $30 million just since last year, mostly targeting the President and vulnerable Senate Democrats.

She added: "So now, Democrats are trying to turn the tables with their own $3 million ad campaign against two men who have never held elective office."

What Cordes failed to mention was that the Center for Responsive Politics website OpenSecrets.org recently ranked the top all-time political donors in American politics and that contributions from Koch Industries only came in at fifty-nine.

Democratic contributors occupied six of the top ten spots on the list, no Republican donors cracked the top fifteen.  

Cordes did manage to get some conservative perspective on the topic, noting: "Tim Phillips, who runs the Koch-backed group [Americans for Prosperity], argues the left has their own big donors." A clip ran of Phillips pointing out: "It's hypocritical when Harry Reid takes millions of dollars from billionaires on the left to attack folks who have resources on the free-market side."

Cordes also cited Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who "says Democrats are simply trying to fire up their base." Goeas observed: "It's basically giving them a bad guy that they're going out to vote against as opposed to voting on the record, which at this point does not look very good for the President."

Wrapping up the segment, Cordes stressed the importance of the Democratic effort:

[Goeas's] poll found a seven-point enthusiasm gap right now between Republicans and  Democratic voters. That means Democratic voters are less fired up to get out and vote. And that's why Democratic leaders are working so hard right now to try to rile them up. Because that turnout could be the difference, Norah and Charlie, between holding on to control of the Senate or losing it.


Here is a full transcript of the April 1 report:

7:30 AM ET TEASE:

NORAH O'DONNELL: And battling the Koch brothers, Democrats are fighting back against the family that spent more than $150 million trying to shake up Congress. That's ahead.

7:36 AM ET SEGMENT:

CHARLIE ROSE: November congressional midterm elections are still seven months away. They're shaping up to be the most expensive ever. Outside groups and the parties themselves have already spent nearly $340 million. And as Nancy Cordes shows us in Washington, one of the best-known families in big-money politics is once again in the spotlight. Nancy, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Big Money Brothers; Democrats Target Billionaires David & Charles Koch]

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. They are the Koch brothers, both in their 70s and two of the wealthiest men in America. They've been giving to conservative and libertarian causes for a long time. But now, Democrats are trying to make them public enemy number one.

SEN. HARRY REID [D-NV]: These two brothers don't like government.

CORDES: On Capitol Hill, there is one name on every Democrat's lips.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS [I-VT]: The Koch brothers.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER [D-NY]: The Koch brothers.

SEN. DICK DURBIN [D-IL]: The Koch brothers.

CORDES: The Senate's top Democrat Harry Reid mentions them in almost every speech, calling them shadowy and un-American.

REID: The secretive Koch brothers....the Koch brothers are trying to buy America.

CORDES: David and Charles Koch are the businessmen behind Koch Industries, a Kansas-based conglomerate that employs 100,000 people and brings in $115 billion annually. The brothers are also the chief backers of Americans for Prosperity, a powerful political action committee that spent $122 million in 2012 and $30 million just since last year, mostly targeting the President and vulnerable Senate Democrats.

So now, Democrats are trying to turn the tables with their own $3 million ad campaign against two men who have never held elective office.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [AD NARRATOR]: Out-of-state billionaires spending millions to rig the system and elect Bill Cassidy.

CORDES: Tim Phillips, who runs the Koch-backed group, argues the left has their own big donors.

TIM PHILLIPS [PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY]: It's hypocritical when Harry Reid takes millions of dollars from billionaires on the left to attack folks who have resources on the free-market side.

CORDES: A recent bipartisan poll found more than half of Americans [52%] have never heard of the Koch brothers.

Republican pollster, Ed Goeas, who conducted the survey, says Democrats are simply trying to fire up their base.

ED GOEAS: It's basically giving them a bad guy that they're going out to vote against as opposed to voting on the record, which at this point does not look very good for the President.

CORDES: He says Republicans employed a similar strategy ten years ago against progressive billionaire George Soros.

GOEAS: We don't do it anymore, so it pretty much tells you how that went. It ended up not mattering to people.

CORDES: His poll found a seven-point enthusiasm gap right now between Republicans and  Democratic voters. That means Democratic voters are less fired up to get out and vote. And that's why Democratic leaders are working so hard right now to try to rile them up. Because that turnout could be the difference, Norah and Charlie, between holding on to control of the Senate or losing it.

O'DONNELL: Alright, Nancy, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC