Director of capitalist think tank launches a stunningly hypocritical attack on a Guardian journalist

Kate Andrews, a pile of dollars, and George Monbiot
Joshua Funnell

Kate Andrews of the ultra-capitalist Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has attacked the Guardian‘s George Monbiot after he revealed Spiked magazine received substantial sums of money from US oil barons the Koch Brothers.

Monbiot’s Spiked revelations

In a piece for the Guardian, in collaboration with investigative group DeSmog, environmentalist Monbiot laid out his case against Spiked for receiving so-called “dark money” from the Koch brothers. The revelations are all the more interesting considering the pride Spiked takes in free speech advocacy. Spiked is also notorious for publishing defences of people like Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) on the hard right of politics.

Monbiot claims to have found three payments in the last two years to Spiked, amounting to $170,000 for “general operating support”. And although Spiked has now admitted to receiving the money, Monbiot found no evidence it had publicised this previously.

Monbiot describes dark money as “money spent below the public radar, that seeks to change political outcomes” which is “among the greatest current threats to democracy”.

He says the Koch brothers (Charles and David) are “among the world’s biggest political spenders”. Their influence should be a cause for concern, as in a 1978 essay Charles Koch stated his objective was to “destroy the prevalent statist paradigm”. Or, in other words, to destroy state regulation that may regulate his oil business.

This is significant, considering their horrendous environmental record and what Monbiot cites as, “a stunning record of corporate malfeasance”.

Meanwhile, judging by the Kochs’ own past statements, their expectations of organisations they give money to are clear. Monbiot details how David Koch once told a journalist:

If we’re going to give a lot of money, we’ll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our intent. And if they make a wrong turn and start doing things we don’t agree with, we withdraw funding.

In short, they pay money to help organisations publish and promote their preferred ideas and propaganda.

A predictable supporter

Others familiar with corporate money have rushed to defend Spiked. Kate Andrews, associate director of the IEA, tweeted:

Her assertion that Monbiot is unwilling to “engage in ideas” flies in the face of the Kochs own stated objectives for donating money for their own ends.

She then tried to move the goal posts:

Contrary to Andrews’ assertion, this only further highlights the dangerous influence money has on undermining the integrity of institutions and people’s ability to trust their research.

The IEA’s own flirtation with dark money

Andrews’ organisation has its own funding issues. According to transparency advocates Transparify, the IEA is one of Britain’s “highly opaque” think tanks which seeks “to shape public debates and influence politics and policies” in the UK. So it has a lot in common with the Kochs and their corporate constituency.

As Transparify has previously reported, the IEA has one of the worst records for financial transparency.

Although undercover filming by Unearthed (Greenpeace’s investigative journalism division) has identified some of their questionable corporate donors:

The IEA also has educational charity status meaning it must act in a “in a neutral and balanced way”. And yet the IEA’s director, Mark Littlewood, was filmed claiming that donors could influence the “content” and “salience” of its research content:

Andrews called out

But Andrews’ organisation’s own record of dark money did not go unnoticed. John Spiers of the folkband Bellowhead called her out:

And others saw the funny side:

Meanwhile, Andrews’ attempt at explaining the IEA’s funding did nothing to help her cause:

Some of us value a democracy that’s not secretly bought and paid for

Many people disprove of billionaires buying up our democracy with secret money to promote their own selfish interests.

But organisations like the IEA, usually obsessed with individual freedom and competition, are embracing collective solidarity when it comes to defending the corporate funding of our democracy.

Featured images by YouTubeYouTube and 401(k)2012 – Flickr

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