Co-authored by Jesse Lava
Just in time for the release of Brave New Foundation's new film, Koch Brothers Exposed, Rush Limbaugh has thrown in with Charles and David Koch in their letter war with Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. No surprise there; Rush has made his fortune defending the rich and powerful against the 99%. But does Rush actually have a vested interest in the Koch brothers' success?
The letter war started when Messina sent a fundraising letter saying the billionaire brothers bankroll "Tea Party extremism" and manipulate oil prices to buttress their energy business. The Kochs responded that Obama was treading on their "right to free speech." (To them, I guess, being criticized by the president is tantamount to being arrested for sedition.) Team Obama shot back again, and here we are.
Rush has taken to the airwaves and lauded the Kochs. "This is how you do it," he says. And on the surface, the reason for Rush's apologetics is straightforward enough: he's a man of the Right, and so are the Koch brothers. But below the surface of this defense lies a much more complex and insidious truth. The fact is that Rush needs the Kochs, and the Kochs need Rush.
Limbaugh is, fundamentally, a mouthpiece for conservative propaganda. He's not a researcher. He's not a grassroots organizer. He's a mouthpiece. And where would he be without propaganda to spout? He has to get his ideas from somewhere. He can't feed the right-wing echo chamber that's hijacking our democracy if someone isn't feeding him first. That's where the Kochs come in.
The video we made with Sen. Bernie Sanders reveals the Kochs' general method, whether Limbaugh is involved or not: fund an army of right-wing organizations so that politicians and pundits know exactly what to say:
Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society, Manhattan Institute: the list of Koch-backed groups goes on and on. And when such groups badmouth Social Security, say, or worker rights, that gives people like Limbaugh something to talk about.
The reverse is true too: without people like Rush -- or, for that matter, Fox News's Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham, who also just defended the Koch brothers against Obama -- the Kochs could never spread their pro-corporate ideology as far and wide as they have. That's why the Kochs provide the financial fuel that lets these people yap their trap. The propagandists need the funders, and vice versa.
Koch Brothers Exposed goes into detail on exactly how this echo chamber works. The reality is that corruption doesn't happen mainly when a rich guy wangles a quid-pro-quo from a politician in a smoke-filled room. It happens when interests align so that powerful people have an incentive to stick up for each other and keep things just the way they are.
So are the Koch brothers funding Limbaugh? I'm not sure Rush has ever sent them an invoice. But he doesn't have to. And that's what's so insidious about what the Kochs do.