Real Headline: 'Koch Says U.S. Can Bomb Its Way to $100,000 Salaries'

August 4th, 2015 2:26 PM

I noted on Sunday how former Associated Press reporter Philip Elliott, writing for Time magazine's website, joined the Scott Walker pile-on brigade criticizing the Wisconsin Governor's reasonable — arguably to a fault — position that he doesn't personally know whether Barack Obama is a Christian.

A separate post by Elliott, which covered a weekend retreat hosted by Charles Koch, originally carried a headline so obviously outrageous that it should never have gotten past him (though, to be fair, he may not have been responsible for creating it) or Time's editors (if they exist) for more than a few minutes after it appeared. Readers will see that headline after the jump (HT Mary Katharine Ham at Hot Air):


So obviously, Charles Koch would loooooooove to see the U.S. go into full warmonger mode and drop bombs all over the world in the name of domestic prosperity and six-figure incomes. What rubbish.

Koch actually said something quite opposite, decrying how the dollars involved in the production of war-related items are given equal weight to the value of other goods and services in the presentation of the nation's Gross Domestic Product.

The content of Elliott's post isn't as horrible as the headline, but it's far from perfect, starting with its very first word:

Conservative billionaire Charles Koch is predicting average American incomes of $100,000 annually in roughly a decade if government is scaled back and regulations are scrapped.

One way to get there? Building and using more bombs, he jokingly told about 450 donors to the political network he backs.

“I think we can have growth rates in excess of 4%. When I’m talking about growth rates, I’m not talking about that GDP, which counts poison gas the same as it counts penicillin,” the 79-year-old industrialist said, veering off his prepared remarks. “What a monstrous measure this is. If we make more bombs, the GDP goes up — particularly if we explode them.”

Charles Koch is a libertarian. Slate says so, and Salon says so. Either publication would be thrilled to call him a "conservative" if they thought the label was accurate and would stick.

For what it's worth, Wikipedia also says "Koch is a libertarian." The word "conservative" appears once at the Wikipedia entry — in describing the political orientation of the "conservative and libertarian" Heartland Institute, to which Koch has given a whopping ... wait for it ... $25,000.

Philip Elliott's "conservative" labeling of Charles Koch is either the height of laziness ("Well, he's to the right of Democrats, so he must be conservative") or deliberate disinformation. Which is it, Phil?

Because Elliott couldn't (or wouldn't) get his labeling right, it shouldn't surprise anyone that he misunderstood (or refused to communicate) the libertarian point behind Koch's statement, which extends beyond the production of war munitions:

... (Libertarian pioneer Murray Rothbard believes) that counting government expenditures in GDP figures made them inherently misleading as any kind of measure of citizen well-being, since, in Rothbard’s estimation, the very fact that government was spending it rather than any citizen of his own free well made its contribution to freely chosen well being dubious.

The Time post's headline now reads, "Charles Koch Mocks Common Measure of Prosperity," but its URL leaves fingerprints: “charles-koch-bomb-economy/”

A "note" at the end of the Time post indicates that "The headline on this story has been updated to more accurately reflect the content of the article." Time should have added, "and because the original headline was idiotic, defamatory crap."

The post currently has a updated time stamp of 4:10 p.m. yesterday. If that last update was to change the headline, which seems likely because the content doesn't seem to have required any kind of subsequent change, that would mean that the outrageous headline seen above was present for at least 21 hours — if not longer.

One gets the sense that Philip Elliott somehow feels liberated now that he has left the Associated Press as a supposedly "objective" reporter for an apparently more commentary-oriented position covering the 2016 presidential race at Time. If what he has produced in the past few days is what we are to expect from here on out, I'd rather see him go back to the AP, where the distortion allowed at least occasionally has its limits.

Cross-posted at