The original Post piece talked about oil sands in Canada, and which companies owned significant parcels of land. The authors, Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, used the following headline: “The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers.”
There’s no way to misunderstand that headline. They are saying that the Koch’s are the ones who will profit the most from projects like the unfortunately controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and that’s why people should continue their opposition to a pipeline that will provide thousands of job and millions of dollars to the local economies of multiple states.
(As an environmental issue, not having the pipeline causes the oil to be trucked to the refineries. This adds far more pollution in to the air. The pipeline would be much better for the air quality of the children.)
What Hinderaker discovered is that, no, the Koch’s are not the biggest lease holder. He went further:
I pointed out that Koch is not, in fact, the largest leaser of tar sands land; that Koch will not be a user of the pipeline if it is built; and that construction of the Keystone Pipeline would actually be harmful to Koch’s economic interests, which is why Koch has never taken a position on the pipeline’s construction. The Keystone Pipeline, in short, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Koch brothers.
He goes on to point out that one of the authors, Juliet Eilperin, has connections to the environmental lobby that screams, “conflict of interest!” A conflict that she does not make known in her “reporting.” From Hinderaker:
Juliet Eilperin is a reporter for the Washington Post who covers, among other things, environmental politics. As I wrote in my prior post, she is married to Andrew Light. Light writes on climate policy for the Center for American Progress, a far-left organization that has carried on a years-long vendetta against Charles and David Koch on its web site, Think Progress. Light is also a member of the Obama administration, as Senior Adviser to the Special Envoy on Climate Change in the Department of State. The Center for American Progress is headed by John Podesta, who chaired Barack Obama’s transition team and is now listed as a “special advisor” to the Obama administration. Note that Ms. Eilperin quoted Podesta, her husband’s boss, in her puff piece on Tom Steyer.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire progressive who made his money on the green movement, sits on the board of Center for American Progress where her husband works. How’s that for cronyism?
With all of this information, the only thing the Washington Post authors provided was a brief response which was not an apology. They stated:
…if Koch’s lease holdings are 1.1 million acres, that would make it one of the region’s largest, rivaled only by Shell (1 million net acres through an Athabasca joint venture and perhaps 1.3 million net acres altogether), Cenovus Energy (1.5 million net acres), and perhaps Canadian Natural Resources (717,000 net undeveloped acres plus an undetermined number of developed acres). Shell declined to release its total acreage figures. If Koch’s lease holdings are “closer to two million,” as has been said by industry sources we consider highly authoritative, then Koch is indeed the largest lease holder in the province.
As the Volohk Conspiracy’s Jonathan Adler accurately stated, “Where the first story proclaimed the Kochs are the largest lease holder in the Canadian oil sands, Mufson and Eilperin now say they are ‘one of the region’s largest.’ That’s quite a difference.”
The difference, clearly, between reporting and lying.
Phil Kerpen of American Commitment looked into the lease holdings in the Canadian oil sands. His totals show that the company Canadian Natural Resources Limited holds more than 2.5 million acres of oil sands. That would mean that if the Koch Brothers owned “closer to two million” acres, they would still be a far cry from the largest lease holder.
As of the posting of this article, neither the Washington Post, Steven Mufson nor Juliet Eilperin has apologized for their misleading headline and faulty reporting. However, those words are too kind. Mufson and Eilperin lied, and the Washington Post allowed it to happen (though, I cheer the Post for allowing Volokh Conspiracy to speak to the issue.)
When people complain of a cozy connection between the progressive left and the mainstream press, this is what they are talking about. The Koch Brothers are good fundraising fodder for the Democrat party. As Dave Weigel noted in Slate, attacks on the Koch Brothers have tripled e-mail fundraising efforts:
Nineteen e-mails didn’t mention the Kochs. They raised, in total, $48,146.30, for an average of $2,534.02 per message. But five e-mails mentioned, in at least some way, the Koch brothers. Those asks raised $32,668.72, an average of $6,533.74 per e-mail. The Democratic base, which has been hearing about and fearing the Kochs for nearly four years, responds to this stuff.
Knowing their base responds “to this stuff,” it seems clear that Mufson and Eilperin wanted a headline that their base would respond to as well, and wrote a story that helped their ideology, and, to a large degree, billionaire Tom Steyer.
All bashing and attacks on the Koch Brothers should be looked at as suspect, and require further examination of the facts and of those committing the attacks. Cheers to John Hinderaker, Phil Kerpen and the Volokh Conspiracy for bringing these lies to light.
FULL DISCLOSURE – I have worked repeatedly with Americans For Prosperity over the past three years. I have spoken at more than 50 events. I have done video work for them, and I have been paid for my work on numerous occasions.