In Which I Join the Conspiracy

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Joe Conason writes about a recent conference organized by Charles Koch.

[C]onservative journalists were the true stars of that June meeting, notably Washington Post columnist and Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer (who spoke at a mountaintop dinner on “What’s Ahead for America?”), the National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, syndicated columnist and author Michael Barone, and Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal editorial board. Glenn Beck of Fox News – who has lately been defending the Chamber of Commerce as advocates of “the little guy” – is also listed as a “presenter.”

Nobody was supposed to talk about the meeting, as the brochure’s “Confidentiality and Security” section emphasizes, so nobody was meant to know that Krauthammer, Ponnuru, Barone, Moore and Beck were flown out to Aspen, lodged in luxury accommodations, and presumably paid a handsome honorarium by Koch to entertain and enlighten the would-be saviors of the Republic. But now we know. So where are the guardians of media integrity, who made so much noise about the innocuous jawing of the liberals on Journolist?

A better question is where’s the scandal here? If Conason had bothered to call me he would have learned that I was paid no honorarium, “handsome” or otherwise, and said nothing that I have not said on the record in other venues. If I had been paid an honorarium—and Kochsters should feel free to contact me if they want to offer me one retroactively—I would have disclosed it any time I wrote about the Kochs. (I probably would not have noted that Koch Industries paid for my opportunity to make a connecting flight in Denver, because it would have sounded too much like complaining.) But I haven’t written about them.

For the record, I was more amused than exercised about Journolist. This story is even less compelling. It’s telling that Conason, in the course of insinuating that some ethics violation has occurred, doesn’t even state what it might have been.