The Koch Brothers Are Working With BuzzFeed Now

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 9 2013 5:42 PM

The Terrifying Koch Brothers Sponsor a Boozy Pro-Immigration Reform Panel

131464880
Protesters from Occupy DC block a street during a demonstration against the billionaire conservative Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity, on November 4, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

My inbox occasionally swells with angry letters or petitions calling for the Kochs to be prohibited, somehow, from buying the LA Times or the Tribune company writ large. Just this morning I got a message from the California-based Courage Campaign informing me that "The Koch brothers want to buy the biggest paper in California and the fourth largest in the nation so they can set the debate, not cover it." (As if they're the first rich people to hunger for editorial control of newspapers.)

A few hours later I got this invitation:

Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 5.04.42 PM

W-w-what? Well, as a veteran of the Koch-funded Reason magazine, I can report that the libertarian brothers have always put their money behind immigration reform. Maybe that complicates their newfound (well, 3-year-old) role as all-purpose rich guy demons; they're sponsoring a night of debates intended to nudge along immigration reform. The announcement comes with a Kochworld quote:

"The Charles Koch Institute believes that advancing progress in our communities and the world around us begins by exchanging knowledge and ideas," said Richard Fink, Director of the Charles Koch Institute. "The importance and timeliness of the immigration debate make the need for such thoughtful dialogue imperative. Sponsoring a productive dialogue on this issue is a natural extension of our commitment to advance a free and prosperous society."

It's a major step forward from their 2011 vintage PR campaign: Irritated press releases accusing reporters of lying about them.*

UPDATE: From BuzzFeed's Ashley McCollum:

We were looking to expand our BuzzFeed Brews series and wanted to do something like this summit for a while. The Koch Institute came to us and were thinking on the same wavelength about doing an event which felt serendipitous. Immigration was the right topic at the right time and we're just happy it all came together.

*I edited the end of this item after the fact, to include that Kochworld quote.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

You Might Not Be Crazy if You Think You Can Hear the Earth Humming

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?