In the wake of the People’s Climate March, conservative writers Charles C.W. Cooke and Kevin Williamson of the National Review Online defended the Kochs and attacked Robert Kennedy Jr. Kennedy’s opinions and words have been twisted and mangled in an attempt to make him look silly and irrational.
However, if one actually watches the video of Kennedy speaking, it’s obvious that the conservative front is attempting a shoddy hit job on Kennedy. Watch below:
Cooke writes that “those who contend that global warming ‘does not exist,’ Kennedy claimed, are guilty of “a criminal offense – and they ought to be serving time for it.’” What Cooke blatantly gets wrong here is that, as one will notice in the video, Kennedy believes that the Kochs should be serving time for reckless endangerment, which is a crime, against the American people. The Kochs contribute to climate change, which does indeed pose a danger to the human race.
Instead of adhering to the narrative that actually takes place, Cooke insists that Kennedy claimed that the people who merely have a differing opinion about climate change need to be in jail. By making such a claim, Cooke attempts to illustrate Kennedy as some environmentalist nutjob.
Williamson no more than co-signs Cooke in a short, four-paragraph blurb also posted on the National Review Online. When instructed by Williamson to “consult the transcripts of his remarks, . . . to confirm this,” one can double check Cooke’s article and still see that it’s inaccurate.
Now that the weakness of the National Review’s attack on Kennedy has been established, here’s why the authors, by sticking up for the Kochs, are defending the indefensible. The Kochs’ criminality goes beyond perpetuating climate change, however.
First, Cooke claims that the Kochs are not war criminals. Although that may not be directly the case, according to Bloomberg, Koch Industries has sold “millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.”
Why wasn’t Koch Industries pegged for trading with Iran? The company was able to circumvent U.S. trade bans with the country because Koch Industries conducted the business via foreign subsidiaries, a loophole that allows American-based companies to buy and sell with countries otherwise sanctioned by the U.S.
Koch Industries has since ceased any deals with Iran.
Kennedy was also correct in characterizing the Kochs as criminals because the company has a mile-long rap sheet.
In 2008, Ludmila Egorova-Fairnes, who was the new Koch Industries ethics manager at the time, was sent to investigate a Koch subsidiary in Arles, France. She found that the subsidiary had been paying bribes to other countries to secure operating contracts. Koch Industries played the apologetic good guy, issuing a statement saying that “those activities constitute violations of criminal law.”
Within the year, Egorova-Fairnes was never rewarded for her find and was subsequently fired from Koch Industries.
From 1999 to 2003, Koch Industries racked up $400 million in fines and penalties, reported Bloomberg. The company allegedly stole approximately two million barrels of oil from federal land. This incident involved creating false purchasing records, according to a Senate investigation. Koch Industries was caught and paid $25 million to the government.
The company even had its own design for lying to and cheating producers called the “Koch Method.” The “Koch Method” was taught to employees by the companies managers.
The Kochs were also involved in the largest compensatory damages judgement in American history in 1999. Two teenagers were killed by an explosion caused by a butane pipeline rupture on a Koch-owned unit. Citing the company’s recklessness, a Texas jury imposed a $296 million verdict on Koch Industries.
Two years later, Koch Industries paid $20 million in fines after pleading to a felony count of lying to regulators.
With crimes like bribery, negligence, and felonious lying, it appears that Kennedy’s argument that the Kochs should be behind bars is more than sufficient. However, conservative hacks like those at the National Review Online have nothing to go on short of mangling phrases, manipulating discourse, and defending a company that’s questionably a criminal organization.