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Powerline on Bloomberg, Koch Industries

The recent piece by Bloomberg Markets on the purported faults of Koch Industries is being revealed as another example of the politically-motivated slash-and-burn pieces that have become common at media outlets with a liberal political agenda.

Koch Industries itself has debunked the reporting in the piece on its KochFacts.com site. Others have too. John Hinderaker of Powerline Blog has a series of pieces that detail problems with the Bloomberg article. It’s a lot to read, as the Bloomberg article itself is lengthy. Here’s an excerpt from the first of three parts that reveals the political nature and motivation of Bloomberg:

Bloomberg’s article offers a pastiche of five or six incidents which took place over a period of decades, are completely unrelated, and were selected by Bloomberg simply because they can be used to put Koch in a bad light. Bloomberg says that “Koch’s history of flouting rules covers more than two decades,” but what that actually means is that Bloomberg had to go back a quarter century to find a handful of examples where Koch had a regulatory problem. (Actually, one of the instances cited by Bloomberg goes back to the Truman administration.) The same attack could be made against any large manufacturing company. Let’s take just one example.

General Electric is the Obama administration’s favorite U.S. company (with the possible exception of “green” energy sinkholes like Solyndra). Yet everything Bloomberg wrote about Koch Industries could just as easily have been written about G.E. G.E.’s foreign subsidiaries have done business in Iran, and G.E., like Koch, has publicly noted that its subsidiaries’ dealings with Iran were legal. Likewise, employees of one or more G.E. companies paid bribes to obtain business in Iraq, and just last year, G.E. paid a $23.4 million fine as a result. And G.E. has had environmental problems, like–to name just a few–contaminating the Hudson and Housatonic Rivers with PCBs, along with the Coosa River Basin, and releasing dimethyl sulfate, chlorine, 1, 1, 1, -trichloroethane, ammonia, and toluene from its silicone manufacturing plant in Waterford, New York. G.E. has had product liability problems, including claims of wrongful death that were, tragically, justified. And, while Bloomberg makes a laughable price-fixing claim against Koch, G.E. was in fact a party to one of the most famous price-fixing conspiracies of all time.

So, is Bloomberg’s story titled “The Secret Sins of General Electric”? Or, in the online version, “General Electric Flouts Law With Secret Iran Sales?” Of course not. G.E. is generally identified with the Democratic Party. Does anyone seriously doubt that Bloomberg wanted to do a hit piece on Koch Industries solely because that company’s owners are prominent conservatives? Of course not.

The three Powerline articles are here:

Bloomberg Whiffs, Part 1: “So the supposedly explosive charge that Bloomberg chose to headline–Koch ‘flout[ed] the law’ and acted ‘in defiance of a U.S. trade ban’ is simply false. Koch did no such thing; what is more, unlike hundreds of other American companies, it has voluntarily gone beyond the requirements of the law and has, in more recent years, prohibited all subsidiaries from doing business in Iran.”

Bloomberg Whiffs, Part 2: “The Koch subsidiary’s termination of Mrs. Egorova-Farines was held to be amply justified. But Bloomberg didn’t want you to know any of that. Bloomberg, motivated by political animus against the Koch brothers, wanted you to get the impression that she was a heroic whistle-blower who was fired for lifting the lid on another employee’s improper payments. This is the sort of dishonesty that pervades the entire hit piece.”

Bloomberg Whiffs, Part 3: “Like all too many ‘whistle-blowers,’ Ms. Barnes-Soliz was a poor employee who, anticipating termination, asserted false claims against her employer in order to set up a lawsuit. The criminal prosecution that resulted was far from the triumphant vindication that Bloomberg portrays; on the contrary, the prosecutor overreached and his case collapsed when it was tested in court, to the extent that the federal government pleaded for a settlement in which the Koch employees it had persecuted agreed not to sue it for malicious prosecution.”

In his conclusion, Hinderaker wrote: “This is a story from which one can learn a great deal. First, don’t take news accounts of noble whistle-blowers and evil corporations at face value. The truth is usually much different from what is implied by liberal reporters. Second, reporters like those at Bloomberg who write on such topics are generally ill-suited to the task. Typically, they know little about business, let alone the complex legal and environmental compliance issues that were involved here. Worse, they generally don’t know how to research effectively, and — to be blunt — aren’t very diligent. So if someone hands them a story that fits their political preconceptions, they swallow it hook, line and sinker.”

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