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Media Turns Blind Eye to Liberal Dark Money

Focuses instead on Koch brothers

Laguna Beach / Wikimedia Commons
• May 8, 2013 4:55 pm

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Last week the Democracy Alliance held a five-day retreat at an oceanfront resort in Laguna Beach. More than 150 major liberal donors and activists attended the dark money retreat. Meanwhile, Charles and David Koch organized a similar event in nearby Palm Springs.

While reporters focused intensely on the activities of the Koch brothers, the Democracy Alliance received almost no attention.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times wrote an article detailing the event held by the Koch brothers.

"As the country’s leading conservative donors finished-off plates of roast lamb and spaetzle in a Palm Springs, Calif., hotel ballroom on Monday, Charles G. Koch delivered a pep talk," Confessore wrote. He went on to break down the discussions that took place during the two-day conference as well as disclose notable attendees.

There has yet to be a mention of the Democracy Alliance meeting in the New York Times.

The Huffington Post followed suit.

"Starting on Sunday in Palm Springs, Calif., Charles Koch is hosting a two-day strategy and fundraising conference for hundreds of wealthy conservative donors and corporate executives. Pitches to financially help the new association and other Koch-backed outfits will be made, say the GOP operatives," wrote Peter Stone.

The Huffington Post lone mention of the Democracy Alliance retreat came in a short blurb, jokingly headlined "RICH LIBERALS SLUMMING IT IN LAGUNA BEACH."

One of the few mainstream reporters to focus on the Democracy Alliance event was the Los Angeles Times’ Matea Gold. Gold reported the luxurious retreat was used to decide how the group would allocate a pledged $50 million to different liberal groups.

One of the groups asking for a piece of the Democracy Alliance’s cash was Organizing for Action, the advocacy group that evolved from President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, Obama for America (OFA)

Jon Carson, executive director of OFA, convinced the Democracy Alliance to make OFA one of the group’s top 2013 priorities.

He did so by promising the Democracy Alliance donors that OFA would work collaboratively with the special interests that make up the progressive infrastructure, rather than compete with them.

Yesterday, Andy Kroll of Mother Jones praised Gold’s article on the Democracy Alliance retreat and recognized the lack of coverage.

"The Koch donor retreats are, by now, well known in political circles, and a magnet for reporters and protesters," wrote Kroll. "What's often left unmentioned in coverage of the Kochs' gatherings is that Democrats and progressives do the same thing."

However, Kroll is one of the main offenders when it comes to ignoring groups like the Democracy Alliance in order to focus on groups from the right.

The week before the conference, Kroll made public an email written by Kevin Gentry, a top Koch aide. The email detailed the plans for the meeting, and included strategic points that would be discussed.

Kroll’s report was part of Mother Jones’ "Dark Money" series, which had not done any reporting on the Democracy Alliance event prior to the rehashing of Gold’s Los Angeles Times article.