Citizen Koch

Citizen KochPBS is censoring Citzen Koch, a documentary about Citizens United, money in politics, and the billionaire Koch brothers. You may remember back in November, I wrote an article about an Independent Lens documentary Park Avenue. Apparently, the film made a lot of rich people very angry, including at least one of the Koch brothers. There’s even a delicious quote in Jane Mayer’s article, A Word from Our Sponsors, “They went on for twenty minutes, warning that such hateful attitudes could lead many wealthy New Yorkers to move to Florida, where the taxes are lower, and arguing that neighbors of theirs who spent millions of dollars on parties helped waiters and caterers.” How ungrateful we are not to worship the rich for their consumption!

Well, Citizen Koch was supposed to be part of the Independent Lens series too. But after Park Avenue got all the rich people upset, things changed. In particular, WNET and WGBH, the big New Jersey and Boston PBS affiliates, have Koch brothers on their boards. ITVS, the company that produces the Independent Lens series suddenly became very concerned. They wanted the title of the film changed. And they wanted the film to limit the inclusion of the Koch brothers. And they wanted more negative coverage of the Democrats put in. One of the ITVS executives put it frankly, “We live in a world where we have to be aware that people with power have power.”

Eventually, ITVS backed out of the deal. The filmmakers think this is due to pressure from PBS. I suspect that the people at ITVS are just assuming pressure from PBS. They don’t want another controversial film to damage their relationship with the network. Regardless of which is the case, it is certainly true that PBS would have had a problem with this film and it would have hurt the relationship. The filmmakers said, “It’s the very thing our film is about—public servants bowing to pressures, direct or indirect, from high-dollar donors.” Hopefully the film will eventually get a wide release and embarrass both PBS and ITVS. The “public” in PBS has been a joke for a very long time.

The trailer looks really good:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Citizen Koch

  1. Ridiculous. "Park Avenue" wasn’t really even that inflammatory. (Alex Gibney’s been harsher on the rich, namely, what they DO to get rich, elsewhere.) Unsurprising, however, that the Kochs have that kind of influence. They are the primary sponsors of "Nova," after all, which is a science show that will never, ever mention climate change. It does depict how groovy the future will be.

    There are obvious political reasons for the rich to shun criticism. There’s also a crazily fragile ego at work. These people don’t just want to win, they don’t just want to lord it over the rest of us (and lording it over is quite important to them; the idea of a world where the poor have decent lives and the rich merely have more toys makes them shudder.) Nope. They want to win, to lord it over us, and to be praised as public benefactors for doing so.

    After all, that’s what every book they read, every course they took at Harvard Business School, has ever said. The magic market which serves them so well also, in the end, helps everybody. With efficiency. And dynamic something. Or other.

    Not long ago I got an e-mail from a rich person I know, describing their life’s absolute fabulousness and asking how things were with me and mine. I responded not by describing all our woes but briefly stating that most people I know have very trying issues which stem from a lack of money. I didn’t criticize those who had money; I merely mentioned that not having it can suck. Well, that message went unanswered.

    I feel like rich people are starting to develop a Captain Queeg, "Caine Mutiny" sort of mania. As the ship becomes more chaotic, they are incapable of admitting that their rule has made it so. They either make increasingly feeble excuses for the gathering gloom, or they ignore its existence . . . which takes increasingly more effort, these days.

  2. @JMF – I think it is more that the rich have become an aristocracy. They think they are rich because they are better. That’s the theme of [i]Park Avenue[/i]. So I can see why they would be angry. Of course it never occurs to them that maybe the film is right about them. And claims that they employ waiters are hilarious.

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