NYT Approves of Harry Reid's 'Un-American' Slur of Koch Brothers

March 11th, 2014 3:14 PM

Tuesday's lead New York Times editorial attack on the paper's favorite conservative bogeyman, the Koch brothers ("The Democrats Stand Up to the Kochs") followed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's political playbook, denouncing Obama-care horror stories as "phony," while approving of Reid's Senate-floor smear of donors Charles and David Koch as "un-American."

And a recent Times report on Reid's push by Ashley Parker (pictured) skipped completely the slur by Reid, who stated in a February 26 speech on the Senate floor denouncing Koch-funded ads publicizing ObamaCare horror stories: "The Koch brothers are about as un-American as anyone I can imagine."

The editorial laughably portrayed Democrats as passive, cash-strapped victims of the Kochs.

Democrats have for too long been passive in the face of the vast amounts of corporate money, most of it secret, that are being spent to evict them from office and dismantle their policies. By far the largest voice in many of this year’s political races, for example, has been that of the Koch brothers, who have spent tens of millions of dollars peddling phony stories about the impact of health care reform, all in order to put Republicans in control of the Senate after the November elections.


Mr. Reid’s comments have gone to the heart of the matter. In his most recent speech, he pointed out that the fundamental purpose of the Kochs’ spending is to rig the economic system for their benefit and for that of other oligarchs. They own an industrial network that ranks No. 14 on the list of the most toxic American air polluters, and got their money’s worth in 2010 by helping elect a Republican House majority that has resisted environmental regulation....He called it “un-American” to spend lavishly to preserve tax breaks and end workplace safety standards.

Republicans quickly rushed to the cameras to demand an apology on behalf of their benefactors, furious that anyone would dare interrupt an industrialist in the process of writing a check. But Mr. Reid made it clear no apology would be forthcoming.

There was no mention of left-wing billionaire and activist George Soros, oddly enough.

Reporter Ashley Parker laid the groundwork for the Democratic Party's campaign tactic in her March 6 story, "New Democratic Strategy Goes After Koch Brothers," yet managed to leave out Reid's inflammatory "un-American" comment.

Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers who are perhaps the best-known patrons of conservative Republican politics, are bespectacled and in their 70s. They look genial enough.

But Democrats are embarking on a broad effort that aims to unmask the press-shy siblings and portray them, instead, as a pair of villains bent on wrecking progressive politics.

On Thursday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is starting a digital campaign that will use Internet ads and videos, as well as social media, to tie Republican Senate candidates to the policies and actions of the Koch brothers. Its slogan: “The G.O.P. is addicted to Koch” (pronounced coke).


Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, foreshadowed the campaign by taking to the Senate floor on Tuesday -- an unusual move -- for the second time in two weeks to accuse the Koch brothers of unfairly meddling in the political system by helping to pump more than $30 million dollars so far in television advertising and other activities into the most competitive congressional races across the country. On Wednesday, he attacked them again during his weekly news conference.

Many of the ads by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, are especially critical of President Obama’s signature health care law.

But whether the words of Mr. Reid, a member of an institution with historically low approval ratings, and even the efforts of other Democratic groups, will be any match for what the Kochs can spend remains an open and urgent question for Democrats.


Democrats say the strategy of spotlighting the Koch brothers’ activities is politically shrewd. The majority leader was particularly struck by a presentation during a recent Senate Democratic retreat, which emphasized that one of the best ways to draw an effective contrast is to pick a villain, one of his aides said. And by scolding the Koch brothers, Mr. Reid is trying to draw them out, both to raise their public profile, and also to help rally the Democratic base.

The approach stems, in part, from Democratic-funded research showing that many voters believe the political system is rigged in favor of the super-rich.

Again, no mention of George Soros.