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Anonymous Satire of Koch Industries Prevails
May 11, 2011 12:41 PM   Subscribe

In December 2010, a Koch Industries press release spoof (Scribd; alt: screencap) was posted on a website that mimicked the appearance of the official site for Koch Industries. The press release stated that Koch would no longer support research and advocacy initiatives that denied or questioned the human role in climate change. The press release was quickly identified as a hoax, and both the fake press release and site disappeared quickly, yet the Koch company pursued the identities of those behind the stunt, going as far as to file a lawsuit to expose the anonymous pranksters as part of a larger lawsuit. This past Monday, the lawsuit was thrown out of court in Utah, with the judge citing that parody is not commercial speech, and thus a First Amendment issue.

Related: A Forbes blog compares the US case versus a similar UK case, in which billionaire US hedge fund manager Louis Bacon won a case in the UK to find the identity behind a number of online commenters on Wikipedia, the Denver Post and WordPress. (However, legal experts have told the Guardian that the US-based companies could legally ignore or refuse to comply with the orders.)

Tangent: As previously covered on MetaFilter, a study funded by Koch and others confirmed global climate change in late March 2011, yet the Koch Industries "Climate Controversies and Energy Needs" page is not yet updated to reflect the recent study.
posted by filthy light thief (40 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Isn't this exactly the sort of thing The Yes Men do? Sounds similar in execution to the whole Dow-Bhopal press release...
posted by FatherDagon at 12:46 PM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Koch brothers are such dicks.
posted by delmoi at 12:47 PM on May 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Libertarian my ass.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:50 PM on May 11, 2011 [25 favorites]


Anybody who happens to be in New York and doesn't like the Koch brothers should stop by the park in front of the Koch Theatre on 62nd & Columbus tonight around 8 for free popcorn... and some other stuff.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:55 PM on May 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Libertarian just means 'the freedom for the wealthy to do what they goddamn well please to anyone else', with the hope that if the poor parishioner of the church of Mammon votes and worships hard enough, they too will become as moneyed as their oligarch overlords. It'd be merely sad if it wasn't also destroying the country.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:56 PM on May 11, 2011 [42 favorites]


Fun Fact: SLAPP means Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.
posted by orthogonality at 12:58 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing that upsets me about the Koch Brothers is that David is one of the banner contributors to the funding for PBS' Nova. Being a program committed to the dissemination of vital, accurate scientific knowledge, I find it disingenuous and perhaps a conflict of interest that a man who denies certain scientific research has donated so much to such a program. I believe in PBS, and I hope his checks aren't a sway on the content.
posted by theartandsound at 1:02 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find it disingenuous and perhaps a conflict of interest that a man who denies certain scientific research has donated so much to such a program.

Since he sees no contradiction in disseminating the vital, accurate scientific knowledge that Obama is a socialist demon bent on destroying America, he likely doesn't share that view.
posted by blucevalo at 1:07 PM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


FatherDagon: Isn't this exactly the sort of thing The Yes Men do?

Indeed, and until an unknown group who call themselves Youth for Climate Truth claimed responsibility, people assumed it was the Yes Men (who have set up Yes Lab as a place/way for like-minded individuals to hone their craft).

And the Koch Brothers seem to fund a wide variety of programs. The previously mentioned climate study received $150,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation (as well as $100,000 from the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research (created by Bill Gates), and smaller amounts from other foundations).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:09 PM on May 11, 2011


In Des Moines there is a Koch Brothers office supply company. No relation, yet they still get death threats.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:10 PM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


See also: The Streisand Effect
posted by schmod at 1:10 PM on May 11, 2011


Pronounced "Cock"
posted by fullerine at 1:15 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sounds like the Koch brothers (pronounced "cock") need to start funding a few law school chairs and give the influence gained thereby a few years to work its way up to the judiciary.
posted by Naberius at 1:29 PM on May 11, 2011


Libertarian my ass.
Sure, but it'll be $20, SAIT.
posted by fings at 1:30 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought libertarians set the price to whatever the invisible hand requires?
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:31 PM on May 11, 2011


I guess they mistook their satirizers for libeltarians. Whoa! I'm doing things with words!!!
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:35 PM on May 11, 2011


cjorgensen, while there's definitely some truth to that, referring to the threats as coming from "liberals" without any source and the tone of that entire article are pretty much trademark Washington Times shenanigans.
posted by mikeh at 1:37 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


They apparently are buying influence in the University system now too.
posted by COD at 1:39 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Libertarianism is like the homeopathy of social-economic policy: "Problems will resolve themselves when you reduce regulation to 1 millionth of what it is!"
posted by yeloson at 1:51 PM on May 11, 2011 [19 favorites]


Yeah, I wasn't vouching for the content of the article, just the fact that people totally unrelated are getting hatred spillover. I don't believe in making death threats, but am pretty sure if I ever do that I'll get the right person.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:53 PM on May 11, 2011


COD: previously.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:55 PM on May 11, 2011


At least it wasn't a duplicate FPP - just a comment :)
posted by COD at 1:57 PM on May 11, 2011


gotbacon is one of the online commenters on wikipedia that Bacon sued: When he was called a “godfather” in the UK media, the London Daily News quickly retracted their story , tail between their legs, licking Louis Bacons wounds. [sic]

Louis Bacon's Wounds, now at Carl's Jr.
posted by benzenedream at 2:32 PM on May 11, 2011


Pronounced "Cock"

Normally I'd bridle a bit at something as petty as making fun of a person's name, but as I've already indicated today, these assholes share a name with something I love, and I don't like the idea of them tainting it, so "Cock" it is.

Perhaps this can be their "santorum"-ing.
posted by quin at 2:32 PM on May 11, 2011


Those guys are utter assholes.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:42 PM on May 11, 2011


I just came across this spoof site called Coal Cares. It's right on the money.
posted by funkiwan at 4:57 PM on May 11, 2011


It's hard to spoof these people's own language:

"Koch companies believe in the efficient use of all resources"
posted by hank at 5:13 PM on May 11, 2011


Normally I'd bridle a bit at something as petty as making fun of a person's name, but as I've already indicated today, these assholes share a name with something I love, and I don't like the idea of them tainting it, so "Cock" it is.

It is for that very reason that I pronounce their name "kotch."
posted by Sys Rq at 5:25 PM on May 11, 2011



Anybody who happens to be in New York and doesn't like the Koch brothers should stop by the park in front of the Koch Theatre on 62nd & Columbus tonight around 8 for free popcorn... and some other stuff.


I just walked past there and all I saw as a food truck with 1.50 chicken empanadas.

Granted, they were very good buck fiddy chicken empanadas.
posted by The Whelk at 5:35 PM on May 11, 2011


He's not a libertarian. He's a Libertarian (as in one who claims affiliation with the US Libertarian party), but he's definitely not a libertarian or a liberal (in the classic sense). Trying to muzzle someone else's free speech isn't something that libertarians do.
posted by -1 at 6:04 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing that upsets me about the Koch Brothers is that David is one of the banner contributors to the funding for PBS' Nova.

Sigh. Similarly, I just noticed that Goldman Sachs is now the sponsor of Frontline. Looks like we've solved the problem of PBS funding by letting big money pony up to remove the last place on American TV that had been capable of presenting intelligent critique.
posted by washburn at 6:19 PM on May 11, 2011


In this case, the Internet service provider, Bluehost, was eager to help. Dan Ashworth, a vice president and one of founders of Bluehost, told The Associated Press that his company had a policy of fully complying with a legitimate subpoena and already had in the case of Koch.

“We are not in the business of harboring, you know, felons and crooks. We are not about that. This isn’t WikiLeaks,” he was quoted saying. “We comply with the law here.”


Good news: The lawsuit (designed in part to identify the anonymous web designers) was reversed.
Bad news: Bluehost had already sent Koch all the info requested. Then they gave the NYT a quote about how they don't harbor felons...? Apparently also not people attempting to non-criminally exercise their freedom of speech.
posted by salvia at 6:59 PM on May 11, 2011


The Kochs make Mr. Burns seem like Mr. Rogers.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:17 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Kochs are Mr. Rogers, and it is 2011, and I can't tell how terrible or awesome that is.
posted by localhuman at 9:53 PM on May 11, 2011


One thing that upsets me about the Koch Brothers is that David is one of the banner contributors to the funding for PBS' Nova.

I too watch Nova frequently, and I bridle every time I see his name at the beginning of the show, and wonder what that's about.

I read an article a year or so ago (sorry, don't know the source right now) about the Koch brothers that said that one of them had a health scare that changed some of his priorities.

It's possible that funding such shows as Nova is related to that, but I'm still highly suspicious. I'm more inclined to suspect that, even if there is some genuine interest in ethical science, it's still at least partially (if not mostly) motivated by an interest in getting a hand on the joystick--just in case he wants to move it in the future.

Another possibility is that he is willing to fund certain science that does not affect his business in order to be able to distract from and falsely legitimize his influence on the science that (he believes) is bad for his business.

Nevertheless, as much as I enjoy most Nova programs, I am saddened by their need or willingness to take his money, because it throws a shadow over each show, as I can't help but constantly be on the watch for something that could be monetarily-biased by his support.

Also, 99.9999999999% of legitimate, impartial scientists stopped debating many years ago whether human-influenced climate change was occurring, and have since been hard at work trying to determine what the exact effects will be, how soon they will occur, and what we can do about them.

Personally, I'm hoping that just enough change will occur to partially affect enough business income that people like the Koch brothers will start to argue in the opposite direction because it is reducing their bottom line...but before it becomes too catastrophic.
posted by ottimo at 11:49 PM on May 11, 2011


This is the article I was referring to, by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, 8/30/10.

Advertise your name to people unlikely to otherwise support you, get your hand on the science joystick, distract from your corrupt manipulations by seemingly associating with an impartial (I hope) science program, and fool your superego into thinking you're finally doing something worthwhile: It's all a win-win-win-win for Koch to fund Nova.

He probably took the funds out of his advertising budget. Or his ego budget. I hope it helps him feel better.
posted by ottimo at 12:52 AM on May 12, 2011


"The remarkable thing about this era of Communist subversion through which we are going is how totally unaware the average American is of its presence. The average American business man will fight like a tiger if you tried to take a few thousand dollars from him, but here is a conspiracy which will take not only all his possessions but his life as well and probably that of his wife and children, and he either says, 'I don't believe it' or 'What can I do'?"
-- A Business Man Looks at Communism, 1960, by Fred C. Koch, father of David and Charles
posted by benzenedream at 1:49 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's not a libertarian. He's a Libertarian (as in one who claims affiliation with the US Libertarian party), but he's definitely not a libertarian or a liberal (in the classic sense). Trying to muzzle someone else's free speech isn't something that libertarians do.

If you look at the actions of the influential Libertarian entities in the political sphere, nearly none of them are 'libertarian'. If you look at the policies and ideals that 'libertarians' espouse, you realize that the Libertarian entities that are fucking things up are not only a natural outcome but in fact the only outcome.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:39 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the same antagonism here in regards to the Koch company would be similarly expressed toward, say, GM, if there were false, potentially highly damaging 'press releases' about them. I'm guessing that, no, you kids would be freaking out about how Jeffrey Immelt is the next Messiah and the people who made the false press release are the worst criminals on the planet.
posted by CountSpatula at 8:26 PM on May 12, 2011


I wonder if the same antagonism here in regards to the Koch company would be similarly expressed toward, say, GM, if there were false, potentially highly damaging 'press releases' about them. I'm guessing that, no, you kids would be freaking out about how Jeffrey Immelt is the next Messiah and the people who made the false press release are the worst criminals on the planet.

Yes, because if there's something we can all agree on, it's that General Motors makes a quality automobile.

What in the world are you on about?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:34 PM on May 13, 2011


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