Bashir Blasts Parent Companies’ Group

Asks why Koch Industries hasn’t left ALEC—though GE and Comcast are still members

MNSBC host Martin Bashir suggested Thursday that Koch Industries should withdraw from the pro-free enterprise American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in order to distance itself from the controversial Trayvon Martin shooting.

In an interview with Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden, Bashir demanded to know why the company had not "taken an avowed public step and … walked away [from ALEC] following this terrible and tragic death?"

Bashir seemed less concerned that MSNBC parent companies Comcast and General Electric continue to be involved with ALEC. When Holden asked if Comcast and GE had withdrawn their membership in ALEC, which they have not, Bashir said, "That’s not the issue … I’m asking you the question."

A number of companies have bowed to pressure from left-wing groups to withdraw from ALEC over its loose association with controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, such as the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin case.

"[Koch Industries] have not walked away because their involvement in ALEC, like a lot of companies including MSNBC’s parents—Comcast and GE—because there’s other work they do," Holden said.

Both MSNBC parent companies have close ties to the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt currently chairs President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, a former lobbyist, is also closely tied to the president, having raised at least $1.2 million for Obama’s reelection campaign. Cohen hosted a $10,000 per head fundraiser for the president at his Philadelphia mansion, and has contributed $224,850 to liberal groups and candidates since 2007, including a $2,300 donation to Obama in 2008.

Comcast has donated at least $2.3 million to Democrats since 2008, far more than the $300,000 it has given to Republicans during that same period.

Libertarian businessmen and philanthropists Charles and David Koch have long been a target of liberal interest groups. MSNBC has been a particularly vocal critic.

MSNBC political analyst and Democratic fundraiser Karen Finney went so far as to suggest that the Koch brothers, through their involvement in ALEC, were partially responsible for Martin’s tragic shooting, referring to them as "the Typhoid Mary for this horrible outbreak."  Finney also implicated Republican politicians in the tragic killing. On each occasion, she was filling in as a guest host on Bashir’s show.

Several days later, MSNBC contributor and former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones said, "You can draw a direct line [from] the Koch brothers" to Martin’s death.

Holden said that following Finney’s "irresponsible" broadcast, the Koch brothers received a number of death threats. He asked Bashir if the T.V. anchor was "okay with that."

Bashir said he was not.

Representatives for MSNBC, Comcast, and GE did not return requests for comment.