NYT Touts More Democratic Attacks on Koch Brothers on Sunday Front Page

April 6th, 2014 8:42 AM

Congressional reporters Jeremy Peters and Carl Hulse touted Democratic attacks against the paper's favorite enemy, libertarian donors Charles and David Koch, on the front of the National Edition of the Sunday New York Times, in "To Hit Back at Kochs, Democrats Revive Tactic That Hurt Romney."

It's just the latest in a series of Times reports and editorials highlighting and tacitly approving Democratic attacks against the Koch brothers in the run up to the 2014 elections, while avoiding mentioning Sen. Harry Reid's false allegations against them, some documented by Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler.

The Times used dull photos to help the case, under the guise of information: "To paint the billionaire Koch brothers as villains, Democrats are drawing attention to Koch Industries subsidiaries like the Invista Specialty Materials chemical plant in Wilmington, N.C."

After months of wincing in the face of negative ads funded by the industrialists David and Charles Koch, Democrats believe they have finally found a way to fight back: attacking the brothers’ sprawling business conglomerate as callous and indifferent to the lives of ordinary people while pursuing profit and power.

By drawing public attention to layoffs by subsidiaries of Koch Industries across the country -- a chemical plant in North Carolina, an oil refinery in Alaska, a lumber operation in Arkansas -- Democrats are seeking to make villains of the reclusive billionaires, whose political organizations have spent more than $30 million on ads so far to help Republicans win control of the Senate.

The approach should seem familiar. President Obama and his allies ran against Mitt Romney in 2012 by painting a dark picture of Bain Capital, the firm Mr. Romney founded, as a company that cut jobs and prized the bottom line over the well-being of its employees.

Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, has called out the Kochs -- whose combined net worth is estimated to be $100 billion -- in his latest ads. In one, which features a picture of the brothers grinning, one of them wearing a tuxedo, Alaskans look directly into the camera and unload. “They come into our town, buy our refinery,” says one. “Just running it into the ground,” says another. “A lot of Alaskans are losing jobs, and I’m definitely concerned about the drinking water,” says a young woman holding a baby.

The Times did the same with anti-Koch ads from North Carolina. After noting that Charles Koch had penned "a rare public defense of his political and business endeavors" in the Wall Street Journal, the reporters handed the megaphone back to Democratic attacks.

In Arkansas, Democrats criticize the same company, a Koch subsidiary, for eliminating hundreds of mill jobs. They have begun documenting its cuts in two Arkansas towns where Georgia-Pacific, the maker of household products like Quilted Northern toilet paper and Brawny paper towels, laid people off during the economic downturn. Senator Mark Pryor, the Democrat who is up for re-election, has also been pummeled with Americans for Prosperity ads.


Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said he found the line of attack unseemly because Democrats appeared to want to punish the brothers for exercising their First Amendment right to political expression. “What I find startling is singling out private American citizens who have decided to engage in the political process, and basically demonizing them by name,” he said. “I think that is something we haven’t seen in quite a while in American politics.”

The reporters even reached back to Obama's successful anti-Romney smearing, during the 2012 presidential campaign, of Bain Capital, the firm founded by Romney, and for some reason unearthed a pungent anecdote against the defeated candidate from two years ago.

Democrats hope their attacks, at their most powerful, will have the impact of one of the most memorable ads of 2012, an anti-Romney one in which a worker in Indiana described how he had built a stage for his company after it was acquired by Bain Capital. The stage, he would later learn, was for announcing the closing of his plant. He said it had been like building his own coffin.