The timing of a story by the campaign finance reporters of the New York Times, and its placement in the paper’s national edition, is fraught with meaning. Articles in which the totemic names “Koch” or “Adelson” appear have a habit of being published in the prime time of an election cycle, and share the uncanny ability to float, bubble-like, to the front-page. Stories that deal with the liberal moneymen who finance the Democratic Party and its affiliates, by contrast, tend to appear after the fact or when nobody is looking, and, like ballast, fall to the back of the A section, obscured by ads for Tiffany’s, Burberry, and Zegna. I wonder why.

A recent example: On the eve of Election Day 2013 the Times ran on its front page an article by John Eligon, “Koch Group Has Ambitions in Small Races,” about local chapters of the Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity becoming involved in municipal politics. Fighting over bond issues and tax increases is the right of every American, including Americans who belong to organizations associated with Charles and David Koch; but the Times wants us to know that “the group has not been so welcome” in Coralville, Iowa, where the “nonpartisan campaign” for mayor “has become an informal referendum on the involvement of outsiders.” And these outside agitators, even if their financial contribution is a pittance, are trying the patience of the local bosses. The article was a free advertisement and plea for assistance on behalf of Coralville’s tax-and-spend caucus. It did its work. The left-leaning mayoral candidate won. Another outsider, Joe Biden, phoned him with congratulations the next day. Congratulations that were, no doubt, “nonpartisan.”

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