If you haven’t seen it, John Hinderaker at Powerline has a devastating fact-check on a shabby piece in the Washington Post today on the Koch Brothers. Read it here.
The authors of the Post piece, Steve Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, have responded. Here’s the bulk of it:
First, regarding the political leaning of the group that brought this story to our attention, our article makes clear its left-wing origins, the controversial nature of its earlier claims, and its political agenda. Second, regarding whether Koch would benefit from the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, we make clear that many of Koch’s leases pre-date the pipeline plan, that Koch has not bid for space in the pipeline, and that Koch would not be a customer. Third, if Koch’s lease holdings are 1.1 million acres, that would make it one of the region’s largest, rivaled only by Shell (1 million net acres through an Athabasca joint venture and perhaps 1.3 million net acres altogether), Cenovus Energy (1.5 million net acres), and perhaps Canadian Natural Resources (717,000 net undeveloped acres plus an undetermined number of developed acres). Shell declined to release its total acreage figures. If Koch’s lease holdings are “closer to two million,” as has been said by industry sources we consider highly authoritative, then Koch is indeed the largest lease holder in the province.
The Powerline article itself, and its tone, is strong evidence that issues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year. That’s why we wrote the piece.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to me they do a good case of laying out (some of) the reasons why they never should have written the piece in the first place. But then they close by claiming they were justified because the outrage their shoddy attack provoked proves the relevance of the Kochs. By this logic any unfair attack posing as reporting is worthwhile when people try to correct the record. Why not just have at it and accuse the Kochs of killing JFK or hiding the Malaysian airplane? The resulting criticism would once again provide “strong evidence that issues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year.”