Bloomberg Businessweek on Bloomberg Markets Article: "Did Koch break the law? It seems not."

The much-anticipated Bloomberg Markets article about the left's most hated industrialists, Charles and David Koch [the latter of whom sits on the Board of Trustees of the Reason Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that makes this website possible], was, as I indicated in a blog post Monday, much ado about not much. Or as Powerline's John Hinderaker put it, in two posts worth a read if you're interested in this stuff, "Bloomberg Whiffs." 

How much did Bloomberg Markets overpromise and underdeliver? Consider that the mag's headline was "Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales," and that a follow-up editorial by Bloomberg Businessweek concluded something closer to the opposite: "Did Koch break the law? It seems not." (The editorial goes on to use words like "loophole" and "opportunistic," and advocates a much stricter ban on trade with Iran.)

Over at the non-Koch-funded Atlantic, Daniel Indiviglio writes a detailed journalistic critique with the subhed: "Working for six months, 14 reporters around the world found eight ugly incidents in the last six decades -- all of which already resulted in fines or settlements, if applicable. Is that it?" Excerpt from that:

To further attempt to sway the reader before explaining the facts, the reporters reveal the following fact that someone not familiar with politics and lobbying might find shocking: "Koch Industries has spent more than $50 million to lobby in Washington since 2006." My reaction to reading this was, "$50 million? That's it?"

That might sound like a lot, but let's compare that to, say, General Electric. Over the same period, GE has spent more than $136 million lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And of course, GE's CEO Jeffrey Immelt serves as the head of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Immelt is the same man who once urged businesses to find ways to profit from government subsidies, saying: "It's never been a free market; it's never gonna be a free market. That's just the way it is."

The reporters provide no such perspective or comparison. [...]

Really, the most shocking thing about this expose is that an army of Bloomberg reporters working for months only found eight instances of alleged misconduct by a giant multinational over the span of 63 years. To put this in context, do a quick Google search of "GE Fines." Within a few pages of results you find:

  • $16.1 million fine for Pentagon fraud (1990)
  • $200 million settlement for various environmental pollution claims (1998)  
  • $23.5 million settlement for bribes associated with Iraq Oil for Food program (2010)  
  • $50 million fine for accounting fraud (2009)
  • $97 million for unlawful debt collection practices (1998)
  • $1 million settlement for misrepresentation of airline circuit board testing
  • $7.1 million settlement for fraud regarding aircraft engine plant (1995)
  • $69 million fine related to defense contracting (1992)

(Sources: NY Times, CorpWatch, Florida Political Press)

I'm not trying to pick on GE here. But we know that GE's executives aren't crusading against regulation, and yet their alleged misdeeds appear as bad as or worse than Koch Industries'. And I didn't need a team of 14 reporters to work six months to figure that out -- I just did a quick Google search.

And here's a video rebuttal from

Meanwhile, Greenpeace USA is calling for a congressional investigation into Koch Industries' dealings with Iran, marking an interesting departure from the organization's longstanding opposition to sanctions against, for example, Iraq.

And no, this kind of political hate-figure pile-on is not one eyelash prettier when directed at George Soros.

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  • Mainer||


  • rather||

    If "found eight ugly incidents" is theft, what are we calling murder? Soul displacement?

    I love the "that guy is a bigger crook than my guy" excuse, it's so libertarian

  • ||

    Haven't you been banned? Did Reason's restraining order run out or something?

  • rather||

    He's a clue disloyal John: don't believe ANYTHING THEY

    -BTW, I don't believe half the shit they have said about you either :-)

  • ||

    The word is that you are the "oh no not this again" franchise. If you are, you deserve to be banned.

  • rather||

    I never deny when I post. I have no clue who that is but I hear I'm a computer cryptology expert-getting on it now ;-)

  • rather||

    It's sugarfree :-)

  • rather||

    No, it's epi

  • rather||

    Wrong again, it's helle

  • rather||

    OMG john, whomever it is they are upstairs. GET THE FUCK OUT OF YOUR HOUSE!!!

  • Sparky||

    Holy shit, your blog has a list of almost all of the regulars at H&R!!! That is some spooky-ass stalking.

  • ||

    I guess I haven't done enough to piss him off yet. I should get to work on that and post more often, lol.

  • rather||

    I write post on comments to further the discussion. They fall under:
    I find interesting, or ASD libertarian B&W,

  • Sparky||

    Based on that comment, I hope nobody is expecting your writing to be coherent.

  • rather||

    35,642 (views all-time) find me deliciously incoherent ;-)

  • Sparky||

    Deliciously incoherent? WTF? From what I saw on your (poorly designed) site, you obviously get a kick out of playing Internet tough gai (bitch?).

  • rather||

    Sparky, my stories have been quoted in newspapers. Methinks you aren't an expertologist

  • Sparky||

    That makes me sad for the newspaper industry. Oh well, as long as you take joy in what you do.

  • rather||

    wait till you read my book ;-)

  • Gimlet||

    Blocked at work. Can you repost the list?

  • rather||

    Found three with your name on my List

    Gimlet and STEVE SMITH, It wasn't consensual, dammit

    Gimlet On The Rocks -That's The Way Epi Likes It

    Gimlet, Tale Of Another Autism Spectrum Disorder Libertarian

  • cynical||

    Did I make the cut?

  • rather||

    You're too fucking optimistic for me, baby

  • ||

    The fact is that Koch Industries is not a paragon of libertarian values. It has a demonstrated propensity to bribe foreign officials, pressure employees to perjure and finance statist politicians.

    Providing perspective necessarily means that one rejects the pointing at Soros / GE meme. That is the refuge of intellectual dishonesty and should be accorded the disdain it deserves.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And I hear they're fans of William Tecumseh Sherman.

  • ||

    The Exterminator!

    How would david koch fare against him in a no holds barred steel cage death match?

  • Joe M||


  • Almanian||

    Way to stroke Big Koch, Matt.

    What else would we expect from someone whose very existence he owes to David Koch's largesse?


  • ||

    I think the point Matt was trying to make (and he does own the David Koch is on the Board of Trustees in the fucking article) is that it's fucking retarded to bitch about one group of assholes when another group of assholes is just as bad, if not worse. And that it's even more retarded when you pick and choose who you go after based off of their politics.


  • ||

    No, if you are a journal / mag / organization devoted to liberty and the rejection of statism, socialism, communism, progressivism, political correctness, crony capitalism, etc, and one of your big benefactors who happens to preach liberty but practices bribery of foreign officials, pressuring employees to perjure and financing statists, well, yes, you do have a duty to pull the curtain.

    If you are a big boy, you don't point your fingers at others who do the same. You acknowledge that your benefactor is acting in a manner utterly inconsistent with the values of liberty.

  • Professional Critic||


  • ||

    Actually the whole article is about how the media is doing the exact opposite of your second paragraph.

  • rather||

    I think the point Matt was trying to make (and he does own the David Koch is on the Board of Trustees in the fucking article) is that it's fucking retarded to bitch about one group of assholes when another group of assholes is just as bad, and aren't paying his ass to STFU.

  • KDN||

    I think your sarcasm meters are broken.

  • cynical||

    I think the point Almanian was trying to make was that people who say what he said are idiots. That's why he wrote /idiot at the end: it's approximating an HTML tag, it's sort of an internet slangy type thing.

  • ||

    If that's the case then I need to get my sarcasm meter fixed and learn internet slang.

  • marlok||

    Countdown to bitchy Vanneman post. 3, 2, 1 .....

  • ||

    Let's see if the Koch Bros get in trouble for doing business with Iran. I'm not holding my breath. There are clearly different rules for people who are that rich.

  • affenkopf||

    That makes me like the Koch brothers more. Sanctions are stupid.

  • Nike Dunk High Women||



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