Jane Mayer's Influential Anti-Koch Piece, "Covert Operations," a National Magazine Award Finalist



Former Reason intern Mike Riggs points us to today's journalism-award jaw-dropper: The New Yorker's very influential and controversial hit piece on Charles and David Koch (the latter of whom sits on The Reason Foundation's Board of Trustees), has been named one of five finalists for the most-prestigious-of-'em-all National Magazine Award in the "Reporting" category. Full list of nominations here. Reason was shut out in the print categories, though we did earlier snag a nomination for multimedia package.

Read some real-time Reason discussion of Mayer's effort from Nick Gillespie, Jesse Walker, and me (twice). I also wrote a later column about "The Great Libertarian Conspiracy."


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  1. Wow… they’ll hand out awards for all KINDS of shit these days.

  2. Everyone without fillings knows The New Yorker is just a mouthpiece for the Bilderbergers, so this is hardly surprising.

    1. Crap, all this time I thought the New Yorker was the mouthpiece of the No Homers.

      1. Can I join?

  3. The New Yorker: Speaking Truth to Power.

  4. In other news: no one who’s not a journalist cares.

    1. True. But many who are journalists care a lot.
      And readers should care, because journalists who covet prizes see what kind of stories win those prizes, producing more of those kind of stories, forever and ever amen.

      1. The only time I want to hear somebody say they “care a lot” is if it’s Faith No More.

        1. Ninety-five cents?! Fuck you, I’ll skate to the beach. And I’ll look better gettin’ there.

  5. Why is it “jaw-dropping”? As you say, the article has gotten an enormous amount of press. I haven’t seen any refutation of the facts presented in the article. (The phony, isn’t this terrible tone, of course, is classic New Yorker). The Kochs are spending a lot of money to influence public policy, so why shouldn’t they get the same kind of criticism that Soros does?

    The Kochs should have kept their mouths shut. They come across in that Weekly Standard article as a couple of diaper-wetting dickheads. Obama is a “dedicated egalitarian.” His dad was “Kenyan-born”! The stock market’s up 50% since Obama took office. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. These guys are sitting on $20 billion each and they feel oppressed. Guys! Sell your stock and buy gold and move to Singapore! And shut the fuck up!

    1. Someone took one to many Tony pills today.

    2. This is really your take on it, Vanneman?
      That the fact the Kochs didn’t “keep their mouth shut” plays a role in the National Magazine Award nomination? I think you’re probably right, but I don’t think that makes the point you’re trying to make.

    3. Both Soros and the Kochs get to spend their money on whatever they want to. How about that?

      I know very little about the Kochs and don’t care too much. But one observation I ran into about the subject seemed particularly apt: If the Kochs only give money to political causes to increase their own wealth, wouldn’t they be better off spending the money lobbying the government for special contracts and favorable regulation, like most other big companies do? If they believe that free market is good for their business, then it is good for all of their competitors as well.

    4. Alan, did you read any of the critiques of the Mayer piece by the writers here at Reason?

      Like, at all?

      Because if you did you wouldn’t have said this -“I haven’t seen any refutation of the facts presented in the article.”.

      That tells me that no, you haven’t

      1. Too busy writing Charlie Chan on the Moon.

        1. Sherlock Holmes and the Bear who Loved Leather…

      2. Alan was too busy jerking off to his toy collection to actually read it.

    5. “I haven’t seen any refutation of the facts presented in the article.”

      Really? Did you not read the reason pieces about it? Also, what about the fact NOT presented in the article? Lies by ommission are still lies.
      As to the “they’re rich so they can’t fucking complains about any shit at all” argument, shut the fuck up. That’s the worst argument in the history of the world. it holds NO logical weight or water.

      The bottom line is, the article is being rewarded as a journalistic effort when it was incorrect and incomplete in the details.

      1. I have to say, if I somehow stumble into billions, I’ll spend some significant coin on promoting free market and libertarian values. After I’ve built a space elevator/statue of me.

        1. I’m going with hedonism first, college education for my kids second, and libertarian values with whatever is actually left after paying for 3 educations in 18 years…

        2. After I’ve built a space elevator/statue of me…

          That’s good, because the statue of Episiarch already exists.

          1. That link appears to be a monument to Sugar Free.

            If I fall into that kind of scratch, I plan to spend whatever it takes to bust the unions so I can stick it to the working poor, whom I hate so much. And anything left over, of course, goes into finishing my doomsday machine.

            1. That link appears to be a monument to Sugar Free.

              Well, he was kind enough to show that flattering photo of me earlier…

              As for me, if I ever get wealthy, I’m buying the libertarian trifecta: 1) drugs 2) trafficked women 3) monocles.

              1. I await the day that my eyesight is poor enough to warrant a bifocal monocle.

              2. That link appears to be a monument to Sugar Free.

                I think he’s commenting on the fact the link is dead. He’s so cruel.

                1. Ha ha ha ha! Holy shit, I can’t remember the last time fucked up a link – and I do it trying to link to SugarFree’s blog. Priceless.

            2. New monocles for everyone!

              1. Goddamnit you just beat me to it… monocle polish instead maybe?

                1. Neither Ska nor I mentioned top hats, Greg…

        3. Personally I’d buy a plane and fly over the Middle East dropping porno mags, condoms, peanut butter, and fiberglass insulation. But to each his own.

          1. yep. that would actually solve a lot of problems.

          2. Me? Hookers and blow.

            Old Skool…

  6. “When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ”

    Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects

    1. And then there’s the Obfuscatory Corollary: “When a true idiot appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

      And the Politician’s Corollary: “When a true idiot appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces rush to join his campaign for office.”

      …really confounds the utility of that observation.

  7. And with any luck, she’ll get the Nobel, too!

  8. The stock market’s up 50% since Obama took office.

    Thanx, Bennay!

    1. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

      1. Right? Where are the people who still have jobs supposed to put their money? In real estate?

        1. I’m still investing in the stock market, though my favorite investment these days is debt retirement.

          1. Debt retirement? Really? With the coming inflation? If you’ve got loans at %5 or less, fixed, I think you’re setting in a sweet spot — or soon will be.

          2. Debt retirement is counterproductive right now. Wait it out and pay your debt with worthless future dollars.

            But yeah, that’s what I’m doing. I’m thinking very shortly, not owing anybody any money will be an even better idea than it usually is.

            1. I understand what you’re saying, but if that happens, I’m screwed, anyway. I’m already in the market and in real estate, so it’s not like I’m swimming in alternatives. I’m not jumping into gold at this point, for instance.

        2. Silver, oil, palladium, and porkbellies.

          1. Lead and brass.

            1. Worthless without the lead delivery system.

      2. I bought an airplane ticket in a foreign country 6 months ago. I cancelled the ticket and with the dollar’s erosion I received (seemingly) $100 ‘extra’ on the refund. A liberal would see that as a way to make money.

    2. If you measure it in ounces of silver instead of dollars, the Dow is actually down.

  9. If Reason had good capitalist impulses, they’d be selling a Kochtopus T-shirt right now. That shit is blowin’ up, yo.

    1. I love how the term “Kochtopus” is starting to be used by the left. When it was Murray Rothabrd who came up the term. I doubt any of them know who he was, or that Kochtopus had a completely different meaning when he used it.

      1. I’m pretty sure it was Samuel Edward Konkin III who actually coined the term, but Rothbard adopted it after the great Crane/Rothbard schism of 1981 rent the libertarian movement asunder.

    2. Only if the tentacles have Reason editors’ heads on them. But first they have to get the Radley Balko bobblehead train moving.

      1. That’d be sweet. Katherine with Medusa hair. Nick belching flame. Matt squinting.

  10. But more importantly: is it art?

  11. college education for my kids

    Spencer, I am disappoint.

  12. If I fall into that kind of scratch, I plan to spend whatever it takes to bust the unions so I can stick it to the working poor, whom I hate so much. And anything left over, of course, goes into finishing my doomsday machine.

    Admirable, indeed.

    I would buy that Lamborghini LM002 I’ve always wanted, and equip it with a .50 cal machine gun and Somali diplomatic license plates.

  13. Libertarian sources like Mises and Lew Rockwell have made their cases against the Koch brothers’ rent-seeking.

    I think my beef is more that the Koch-funded organizations are averse to criticizing corporations or to question why limited liability should be protected by the government. (As the owners of a huge polluting company noted for dumping massive amounts of chemicals into the Mississippi, who can blame them?)

    This has caused the entire libertarian movement to go corporate instead of balancing appeal between the Right and Left and targeting mutualists, agorists, Georgists, Alinskyans and open-minded liberals and progressives who are naturally turned off by corporate shilling but willing to hear why limited government would accomplish what they want better than command/control economies and the welfare state. While their money is nice for the movement to have, the inky message they want their tentacles to send is not worth it.

    1. The point is not that the Kochtopus isn’t a greedy, rent-seeking, monocle-wearing corporate monster, but that it’s our greedy, rent-seeking, monocle-wearing corporate monster.

      1. Speak for yourself. I have a different greedy, rent-seeking, corporate monster with inky tentacles.

        Well, have in the sense of “work for”.

    2. Rockwell’s obsession with THE KOCHTOPUS is so bizarre it makes his blog impossible to read. And it’s also hyprocritical; Mises’ salary as a professor was paid for by businessmen as the university didn’t want to pay it.

      It’s amazing that Rockwell idolizes Rothbard so much, considering Rothbard was an intellectual who would flirt with all sorts of groups from the Left and Right. Lew has a very divisive and puritanical approach to libertarianism, I think that he does the movement more harm than good whenever he opens his mouth.

      1. For the record, while I agree with many of Rothbard’s ideas re: corporations and government, I think he was also counterproductive to the libertarian cause by rejecting incrementalism and refusing to allow anybody to appeal to moderates by meeting them halfway. He singlehandedly is responsible for consigning libertarians to a “dogmatic egghead anarchist” stereotype that we have been trying to overcome ever since in order to grow in numbers. Then he, inexplicably, abandoned the LP to become a Republican. The Kochtopus deserves credit for making libertarianism more “mainstream” but that didn’t come without selling out laissez faire/classical liberalism to appeal to rent seekers and giving up on appealing to the Left in any serious fashion. Neither method was the right balance.

  14. Money is evil, and taxation is the only way to relieve it’s horrible burden. We must save the Koch brothers from their evil donating scheme by taxing them with great mercy. Sweet merciful taxes are the only thing that can save the rich from their entrenched evil ways.

  15. I’m going to buy a giant gold space monocle. It will also double as a doomsday device and a new kind of AGW for us to argue over.

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