Maddow Attacks Kochs for Funding Group that Pays MSNBC Interns

Cable host’s attacks on Kochs littered with double-standards

January 28, 2014

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow tried to tie the Koch Brothers to a Florida free market group on Monday by noting that the Kochs have ties to the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), which has paid stipends to interns at the group.

Maddow did not mention that IHS has also paid students to intern at MSNBC, according to its website.

The Monday segment was the latest salvo in Maddow’s long-running war on libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries.

She has tried to tie the fraternal billionaires to a Florida law, recently struck down by a federal court, requiring welfare recipients to undergo drug testing.

Maddow pointed to work by the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative Florida think tank, in pushing the law. She implicated the Kochs in the effort, claiming they have supported FGA.

When pressed on that claim, Maddow relied on multiple degrees of separation: the Kochs, she said, gave to a group called the State Policy Network, which gave to the FGA. Therefore, she claimed, the Kochs were involved in the effort.

Comcast, the parent company of MSNBC, also donates to the State Policy Network.

After numerous media watchers criticized her conspiratorial accusations, Maddow pursued another angle.

The Kochs have given money to IHS, she noted, which has paid students through its Koch Summer Fellowship program to intern at FGA, among about 80 other organizations.

According to IHS’s website, MSNBC is one of those organizations.

Washington Post media critic Eric Wemple found Maddow’s attacks on the Kochs by way of IHS wanting.

As a gotcha exercise, Maddow’s work here is admirable. After the Kochs made a sweeping statement of non-affiliation, Maddow found a relationship, right there on the Internet. Busted.

At the same time, Maddow is now premising her case of Koch-FGA collaboration on a Web page. As the Summer Fellow Program’s Web site states, the FGA is among 80 organizations that take part. Does that mean that every initiative of the FGA is essentially an initiative of the Koch brothers? That appears to be Maddow’s contention. […]

Delving into the particulars of the Koch brothers’ political activities is precisely what an enterprising anchor at MSNBC should be doing. The problem is that Maddow, in this instance, appears to have done things backwards. On Jan. 2, she made a series of allegations that carried little substantiation. The layman’s takeaway from her monologue that night was that the Koch brothers were a huge force behind the Florida drug-testing law. When challenged on her reporting, she refused to acknowledge any shortcomings. Then, last night, she went back to the subject with some new facts. The timeline thus suggests some un-journalistic behavior on the part of Maddow — that is, making a public claim and then seeking evidence in support of it.