My Life Among the Libertarian Nomenklatura

Mark Ames blows my cover as a “valuable asset to the Koch PR Machine.” He claims that “readers are barely aware of Weigel’s long relationship with the libertarian nomenklatura and Koch-funded outfits,” which assumes that readers don’t use Google, but whatever: the first charge comes when he says I soft-peddled MoJo’s Koch donor scoop.

On yesterday’s breaking story from Mother Jones exposing the Kochs’ secretive meeting and the names on the list of their “Million-Dollar Donor’s Club,” Weigel laughed knowingly and dismissed the hullaballoo with the all-knowing sneer of a graying, grizzled veteran reporter… No surprise indeed. This is a classic example of the David Weigel Koch-Defense Strategy: Declare it’s “no surprise,” roll contemptuous all-knowing eyes at all the rest of us excitable novice reporters who clearly don’t “get it.”

How does he get to the conclusion? By quoting my post – except for the part that I will put in italics below.

No surprise: Most of the money on this list is coming from people who stand to make even more money in the energy industry if more leases are given out and more regulations are deep-sixed. And it’s just a disgrace that this information is smuggled out of a meeting like a heroin shipment, instead of being disclosed. The Tea Party movement, the GOP, etc – no one who benefits from this disagrees with the goals of these people in making more money. Why hide it?

Why did Ames leave out the second part? Because doing so makes me look like I’m siding with the Kochs, instead of 1) linking the story and 2) criticizing the Kochs for being so secretive. I’ll cop: When I cover the Kochs, it’s as a graduate of conservative and libertarian institutions who got a pretty good understanding of how Koch political/ideological money gets spent, and a sense of how much more secretive and combative they’ve become as liberals have focused on them. It’s good to know what they’re funding, and they shouldn’t hide it – their quest to do so is actually pretty amusing. (I’m fond of the interview Richard Fink gave to FrumForum, denying any role in the Tea Party, once the coverage got to be irritating.)

When I say some of the coverage is over-hyped, though, it’s because it’s over-hyped! We get details of a secret meeting, the existence of which one of the attendees/panelists had already revealed to the world. We learn that I am covering up for the Kochs by downplaying stuff like Ian Murphy’s Koch prank call to Scott Walker; hey, I interviewed Murphy about the prank as part of my Wisconsin coverage. Ames is annoyed that I don’t cover the Kochs like he does. Fair enough! But my position on liberal and libertarian money is the same – expose it, use it to judge the people who accept it, but keep some perspective about what the money actually achieves.