Media Disguise Liberal Billionaire Steyer As ‘Climate Change Crusader’

Behind ‘green hero’ mask is a rent-seeking crony capitalist.

Steyer has been funding Democratic causes ever since the 2006 election. According to The New York Times in January, 2007, he was one of several “younger executives” from Wall Street “all of whom gave generously during the 2006 election cycle.”

Since then, his support of Democratic politics escalated. On Sept. 16, 2011, he and his brother announced plans for the “Center for the Next Generation, a nonprofit organization that aims to be a loud voice in major public policy debates.”

From that point, he has been covered extensively by the Times and The Washington Post – a total of 110 print mentions for Steyer in that time detailing everything from his speech at the Democratic National Convention to his massive financial support for Democratic politicians.

No one on the broadcast networks was paying any attention. ABC, CBS and NBC have done just one story mentioning Steyer and his funding since that date, and even then it was a mere 34 words in a story about the Koch brothers.

Charles and David Koch got the once-over from all three networks. There were 22 mentions of the Kochs funding conservative groups or politicians in that time. That’s a 22-1 ratio.

Network broadcasts repeatedly treated the Koch brothers as ominous characters. Reporters warned their contributions funded “very, very conservative causes,” that they operated in “secrecy” and were called “elite.”

Professional left-wingers including Stephen Colbert from the “Colbert Report” and Obama-loving Chris Matthews, of MSNBC, were brought in by the networks to complain about the Kochs. One ABC story featured representatives from three Soros-funded organizations to criticize the Kochs. Not one of them was identified as such.

It didn’t stop there. The only other network story mentioning Steyer since his creation of his climate PAC in 2011 was an NBC “Nightly News” piece on the Keystone pipeline. Steyer, who opposes the pipeline was allowed to criticize the project without the network’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent/anchor Andrea Mitchell ever bringing up his own coal past.

The New York Times took Steyer to task for his huge investments in Australian and Indonesian coal projects. “As with those in coal mining, Mr. Steyer’s investments in coal-fired power will reverberate far into the future,” the paper wrote, on July 4, 2014.

Yet, that type of coverage never appeared on the network news. Steyer’s commitment to the climate was never challenged and his hypocrisy was never discussed, even though the issue was brought up in print.

The entirety of network coverage mentioning his funding efforts since fall, 2011, was a quote from ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer.” Investigative reporter Brian Ross was doing a report on the Kochs and needed a hint of balance.  “But the Democrats have their own big money figures,” Ross said. “California billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer has put out the word he, too, will put up about $100 million for the coming elections cycle.”

Steyer’s funding was never at issue. Largely because network journalists had already passed judgment on it in a very positive way. On Nov. 29, 2010, Christiane Amanpour interviewed Steyer for ABC’s “This Week.” It was more puff piece than journalism.

Amanpour’s interview was about Steyer’s involvement in philanthropy and The Giving Pledge, as “one of the rich you may not recognize.” Of course, the reason for that was the network’s own refusal to report on Steyer.

She lionized the billionaire saying, “Steyer drives a 2005 hybrid Honda and he flies commercial, but this everyman runs a hedge fund that’s worth $20 billion.” He was allowed to talk about “the big new thing I believe is staring us in the face is sustainable energy.” Apparently not staring him in the face enough to set aside his many future coal investments.

Naturally, it was a different story for the Koch brothers. Of the 28 stories involving the Kochs from Sept. 16, 2011 to Oct. 23, 2014, not one of them said anything positive like this. A Nov. 1, 2011, NBC “Nightly News” piece called them “climate deniers.”

None of the stories detailed the Koch brothers non-political charities. According to the Koch Family Foundations, David Koch, “a prostate cancer survivor,” has donated or pledged nearly $350 million to cancer research. That includes $100 million “as prime contributor for the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.” The American Apparel and Footwear Association named him Humanitarian of the Year in 2011.

David Koch also pledged $35 million pledge to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to renovate the dinosaur hall, as well as $165 million in other arts grants.

Instead the Kochs were depicted, as ABC showed in one graphic, as “buying influence.” Or as CBS’s “This Morning” host Charlie Rose summed up of the Kochs on May 10, 2013, when they were rumored to be buying the Tribune newspaper chain: “They say it’s their constitutional right to try to influence politics.”