"Citizen Koch" Filmmakers on Political and Media Funding

Friday, May 31, 2013

A recent New Yorker piece chronicles how funding for the new film "Citizen Koch" was halted because of pressure applied on PBS from philanthropist and conservative businessman David Koch. Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, whose last film, "Trouble the Water", was nominated for an Oscar, discuss their documentary investigation into conservative efforts to dismantle organized labor in Wisconsin -- and the controversy over the Koch-tied funding withheld from their project.


Carl Deal and Tia Lessin

Comments [23]

Ryan from St. Paul

It's just amazing how little our politicians sell out for.

Jun. 03 2013 08:07 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL .... that's me, "soulless".
"Go along with the status quo" .... oh, you mean the status quo that allows so many slackers the subsidized idleness to get away with doing nothing except maintaining their own sense of "progressive" self-righteousness?
Er, yea, I guess so.

May. 31 2013 05:37 PM
Roy from Queens

I like it when people who are apparently soulless telling creative people to get real jobs while selling their minds, along with souls, to go along with the status quo. BTW, not every artist lives south of 23rd St. Thanks to the likes of Giuliani & Bloomberg, there's a growing artist community in Brooklyn.

Silly conservatives....

May. 31 2013 02:33 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

> Flip a coin in any Starbucks south of 23rd street and it will hit a "documentary film maker."

Or an Artist, Writer...

May. 31 2013 11:06 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

@MC -

...and Drudge -- both son and father -- or Breitbart -- or LGF!

C'mon, Martin, your point of view has no real facts behind it because there is NO DISCLOSURE.

The argument you are advancing is 'Your side is just as dirty as mine' when the argument should be 'How do we make the media environment clean and fair?". The Citizen's United decision was a step backwards, IMO.

Should money be able to buy elections? In a perfect world, no. The fact that money can (and does) buy elections is a sign of how far we have to go in achieving 'All men are created equal...'.

May. 31 2013 11:01 AM
Malu from Sea Cliff

I'd like to know why NRP?WNYC has not covered at all the Against MOnsanto March; it doesn't seem to cover the contamination of GMO seeds, the fight of MExican farmers against the contamination of their native corn; the Indian farmers suicide; the hormones, and pesticides; the death of bees and butterflies; the fact that JAPN just dropped an order of WHEAT fearing GMO contamination; 27 countries have boycotted and banned MOnsanto and it's allies, why don't you ask why?
Thank you, ML

May. 31 2013 11:01 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Maybe these two should think about going out and getting real jobs.

Flip a coin in any Starbucks south of 23rd street and it will hit a "documentary film maker."

May. 31 2013 11:00 AM
Chen from Queens

For such a "balanced" duo they don't explore public employee unions which directly silence the taxpayer and directly cost 1000s of dollars per family. You can so easily tell when guest are disingenuous.

May. 31 2013 11:00 AM
Robert from NYC

Neal Shapiro should be fired if he doesn't resign from PBS.

May. 31 2013 10:58 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

This woman should have a film made about HER, her family and her personal preferences. Hey, the IRS should audit her as well.

May. 31 2013 10:56 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Edward, maybe the filmmakers should've let David Koch & the others who withdrew funding *think* it was about the late mayor!

May. 31 2013 10:56 AM
This time I cannot say from New York

Let's assume what they say is true. It is NOT balanced.

- They did not answer Brian's question about Soros.

- Unions spent MORE on the Wisconsin election

- I am a union member. A big chunk of my dues goes to political issues I might not agree with. If I were to object, there would be consequences, so I just keep quiet.

May. 31 2013 10:55 AM
Amy from Manhattan

More specifically, David Koch sponsors many shows on PBS. Once I was surprised to see his name in the credits of a program that discussed (not dismissed!) global climate disruption & took it seriously.

May. 31 2013 10:48 AM

@Edward - I'm not saying that there will never be corporate sponsors, but PBS wouldn't be forced to be beholden to corporate sponsors if they had more support from the 99%.

May. 31 2013 10:47 AM
Robert from N YC

Neal Shapiro should either resign from PBS or get sacked.

May. 31 2013 10:45 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights


Michelangelo, da Vinci had corporate sponsors. The Medici.

May. 31 2013 10:44 AM
RJ from prospect hts

Given Citizens United, it's impossible to know which "side" is spending more money, because it let's them hide their money. But there seems to be a short memory on the decades-long money that's been coming in behind-the-scenes "turf roots" organizations funded by the oil industry, the Scaife family, the Coors family, et al. There haven't been nearly equivalent floods from the left; the closest has been the actual citizens who are active within their unions and other organizations that they choose to join--environment, women's, lgbt, etc. Isn't it obvious that there's a difference between 1% people and industries funding their private interests vs. organizations of actual people (who vote in their leaders) pressing/spending for *their* concerns?

May. 31 2013 10:43 AM
Robert from NYC

First of all when it comes to trying, trying to "equalize" the money on the left to that of the right it can't be done because there are far more m/billionaires on the right who give to "right causes". It seems the only name that ever comes up on the left is Soros. But were that not even the case, it turns out that the causes supported by these people are, one in particular on the right to prevent certain populations from voting in both national and state elections. The right who claim to be the "patriotic" side attempts to prevent citizens from their constitutional right to vote. Their motto isn't "get out the vote!" it seems to be "throw out the vote... of YOU!" Even the media tend to call "equal" the reporting on money going into left causes as there are going into right causes. But no one seems ever to take a look at where that money goes and for what the causes stand for. The support of unions is problematic!! Supporting workers rights-rights that have been wearing away over the decades-is something to be against? Really? I find it interesting how many of the supporters of anti-union rhetoric and causes are themselves workers who complain about dwindling salaries and benefits and increase in hours and workloads. You're being pitted against your working brothers and sisters. I find it sad how unionize public employees are pitted against private, corporate employees instead of working together as "employees", "the labor force" as one, working together, together, to improve and equalize all workers rights as a group, in the same sinking boat. Don't bitch agains those who have got better salaries and benefits! Join with them to get better salaries and benefits... and right.

May. 31 2013 10:42 AM

@David - Fantastic point. I'll also add that PBS wouldn't need Koch money if half the viewers of public television would donate. The actual donater/viewer ratio is pathetic.

May. 31 2013 10:27 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

And I thought it was about the NYC mayor...

It's long been time for an investigation of George Soros. His history during WW2 and his influence buying today.

May. 31 2013 09:52 AM
Richard Frascone

The Koch brothers, are the 1%. Isn't it sad that the real
"OWNERS" of America don't care about the people who live here. They have a simple philosophy "profits before people" The movie "Koch brothers exposed" proved this point. These guys are evil, BATTA-BING!!

May. 31 2013 09:49 AM
David from Fairfield CT

I blame the American people! For years they stood by "passively" (except for a few key organizations) as right-wing crusaders assaulted PBS which for decades provided an ojective counterbalance to the money/influence of the supper rich and well connected. Now great organization like WNET and WGBH are muzzled as the foxes moved into the hen houses using their money disguised as charity to gain access.

To remain a truly democratic society, we must have an effective neutralizer to those who would seek to turn this great nation into an oligarchy. There's nothing wrong with being wealthy! The problem is when that wealth is used to garner undue influence over the public. This is why the Koch Brothers and their servile dependants are so dispised across this nation.

Thank God for the "government invented" internet. Without it, we would all be doomed to deceptive right-wing dogma.

May. 31 2013 09:40 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Good heavens, there is a lot more money from the left buying elections and influencing politics. Peter Lewis (Progressive Insurance) gave 22 million dollars to a SINGLE election cycle. Almost all of the new internet wealth tilts left. Not to mention unions (Cal teachers' union 150 MILLION just to state elections ALONE in the past 10 years!). Gee, never hear about that stuff on NPR/WNYC, eh?

Poor David Koch and Sheldon Adelson, the only go-to targets for lefty slackers. Why don't Lessen and Deal look into George Soros and really become edgy ground breakers. What a joke.

May. 31 2013 08:39 AM

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