What the Kochs Could do for their Country

By Josh Gelernter

Like concerned Americans dating back to nuisance pamphleteer Thomas Paine, les bêtes noires Koch brothers are trying to persuade people and influence elections. According to Alan Abramowitz at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the Kochs plan to spend $900 million in the next election cycle — though, says Abramowitz, super-PAC spending has an unexpectedly modest impact on election results. If the Koch brothers really want to spread the good word of libertarian conservatism, they might consider redirecting some of their largesse.

People talk a lot about media bias — X is too liberal, Y is too conservative. Often, they’re right, but this is more or less the way news has always operated. The balance doesn’t come from individual players; it comes from the field as a whole. The New York Times was balanced by the Herald Tribune, Walter Cronkite by Huntley & Brinkley, and The New Republic by National Review. The Guardian is balanced by the Telegraph, the Huffington Post by Drudge, CNN and MSNBC by Fox News. Fox News is the conservative counterbalance on cable; it has no equivalent among the broadcast news shows. And while Fox is much more popular than the other cable news channels — two and a quarter million prime-time viewers versus about half a million each for CNN and MSNBC — it is much less popular than the broadcast shows, each of which attracts 7 or 8 million people nightly.

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