David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
On the eve of our first Neo-Pleistocene summer, right-wing carbon barons David and Charles Koch seem to be everywhere, buying influence and trying to de-pollute their image.
The multibillionaire brothers are the potential new owners of the Tribune Company’s eight newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and Hoy, the nation’s second-largest Spanish-language daily. They’re helping to shape what gets on PBS; as Jane Mayer tells it, David Koch barely had to lift a goldfinger to get a public television company to censor itself and drop a documentary critical of him. They’re getting down with BuzzFeed; the Charles Koch Institute–sponsored a BuzzFeed Brews “immigration summit” a few weeks ago, with free beer and Ben Smith.
And, I’m approximating here, but in roughly 400,000 parts per million, the Kochs are all over the coming “climate-change wars,” as fights over EPA greenhouse-gas regulations and the (Koch-enriching) Keystone XL pipeline heat up, and, in Detroit, Koch Carbon’s mountain of “the dirtiest residue from the dirtiest oil on earth” builds up, three stories high and counting.
That last—an entire city-block of petroleum coke, a waste byproduct of refining Canadian oil sands—is also the dirtiest public face of the Kochs. But like any savvy corporate sponsor, they’re scrubbing it with philanthropy to present a clean, enlightened face, like the one greeting you at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where large signs tell you you’re standing on “the site of the new David H. Koch Plaza.” Originally the $65 million Dave gave to redo the plaza and fountains wasn’t going to result in naming rights, but somehow it did. And because of a $100 million donation, for the last five years you no longer attend the city ballet or opera at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center but at the David H. Koch Theater.