The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
 Latest Slideshows

Seeger Clogging Allstars + Trampled by Turtles at the Newport Folk Festival

Gogol Bordello + Ramblin Jack Elliot + Pete Seeger at the Newport Folk Festival

Elvis Costello + Head & the Heart at the Newport Folk Festival

Tea Party Enabling Billionaire David H. Koch Moonlights as WGBH Board Member

David Koch

Last week's revealing phone call between a Buffalo Beast prankster and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker clarified the extent to which billionaire rainmaker David H. Koch manipulates public officials.

But Koch doesn't just play puppeteer with politicians. He also has his hooks into public radio and television: although it has not been widely reported, Koch is a trustee at the Boston-based WGBH, PBS's largest producer of web and television content.

WGBH is in the midst of its own labor problems. The Boston Globe reported earlier today that negotiations between WGBH management and nearly 300 union writers, producers, and editors are deteriorating quickly. Yet there's been no mention in the media that Koch -- a vicious adversary of employee unions -- sits on the station's board. (The Phoenix mentioned it years ago, but only because Koch's brother Bill was spending millions to “protect” Nantucket Sound from wind farms.)

Public records show that Koch, along with his brother Charles, gave more than $17 million over 10 years to groups that organize against workers. They also provided seed money for the private sector front group Americans For Prosperity (AFP), which is currently backing the union-busting Walker in Wisconsin and comparable efforts elsewhere.

A WGBH spokesperson tells the Phoenix that "the Trustees have no involvement in the day to day running of WGBH," and that Koch "has responsibly fulfilled his role, supporting the educational activities of public media and WGBH." Management has also denied allegations of union-busting. But with an avowed enemy of unions on its board, it's hard for some to take that seriously. At last month's Conservative Political Action Conference, an AFP staffer even pledged to help “take the unions out at the knees, so they don't have the resources to fight these battles.”

At WGBH, these developments are unfolding as the future of public broadcasting rests in the hands of the United States Senate. The House of Representatives already voted to axe funding for public stations like WGBH, while anti-NPR and PBS sentiment can be heard wherever Tea Partiers and AFP henchmen are waging counter-protests against union workers.

“This whole thing is outrageous,” says Russ Davis, the Massachusetts chapter president of Jobs with Justice, which represents more than 100,000 workers nationally. “It just doesn't make sense why someone who on one hand is trying to destroy public broadcasting should also be sitting on the board of this station.”

| More


  • mfo817 said:

    Wow, dot connecting that would make Glenn Beck proud.  No quid. No quo.  No nothing.

    Koch may be evil in his political and business dealings, but he also gives money to many charities, such as New York arts organizations, and asks for nothing in return but good art and/or good TV.  New Yorker covered this months ago and actually did reporting on it.

    This is lame.

    March 2, 2011 6:38 PM
  • mfo817 said:

    This is Glenn Beck-level dot connecting.  Puh-leeze.  

    The Kochs may be evil in many aspects of their political and business activities, if not most.  But their philanthropy -- as spelled out in New Yorker article a few months back-- seems very hands off.  There's no quid pro quo here.

    March 2, 2011 8:17 PM
  • Rima said:

    Nice bias, Chris. As a former WGBH employee and former union member, I'm not taking sides here because there's only one side: The one keeping WGBH alive and relevant, and its employees treated fairly. WGBH is the backbone of PBS, and I want to see it thrive.

    I am going to say a couple of things though:

    1) I never felt any pressure from trustees when I worked for a Koch-funded program, nor did I see any editorial input coming from Koch or others. There was no interference with the union at all.

    2) If it weren't for Koch, a lot of PBS programming couldn't survive. Way to ignore all of his charitable donations and stick his head on the chopping block. Here's a summary of donations:

    Obviously, if you don't believe this, you can cross check these facts against other reputable sites.

    Koch's work is no secret. He gets a credit on every NOVA, for example.

    I'm not here to defend or condemn Koch or his work, but I do want to offer the other side of this that you obviously ignored in favor of getting more hits/rallying the troops.

    March 16, 2011 2:51 PM

Leave a Comment

Login | Not a member yet? Click here to Join
 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Search Blogs
Phlog Archives
Friday, August 05, 2011  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group