David Brooks

New Report Shows Koch-Controlled Entities Contributed over $192 million to 72 Climate Denial Groups

Why does David Brooks keep repeating the canard that Al Gore is the reason the climate crisis is so politicized?

In a 2012 New York Times column, A Sad Green Story, Brooks made the case that all was going well before Gore stepped forward with An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. Then, in a “Shields and Brooks” segment with Miles O’Brien on climate change politics on Sept. 1, 2017, he did it again.

Brooks: “Climate change, in the way it was 20 years ago, is a total partisan issue now.”

O’Brien: “Is that because Al Gore ran for president?”

Brooks: “He had some positive effects with the move, but he had a very negative effect. Used to have John McCain and a lot of other Republicans with climate change legislation. And once it became a Democratic issue, the Republicans had to go on the other side. And there was a perverse effect for what Al Gore did.”

There is no disagreement that climate change politics has become a partisan issue. Gore ran for president in 2000 as a Democrat. So, when he later marshalled scientific facts about the climate crisis and presented them in a documentary and a book, it’s logical that some would focus on the messenger and not the message.

But the blame for today’s hyper-partisanship lays elsewhere.

Koch Direct Funding Peaks Same Year Inconvenient Truth is Released

Recently, Checks and Balances Project conducted the most comprehensive probe of its kind into the campaign by Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch to undermine climate science and climate change solutions. We found that Koch-controlled entities – including family foundations, organizations founded or run by Charles or David and key grantmaking vehicles for Koch groups – contributed over $192 million to 72 groups associated with climate denial and opposition to clean energy solutions from 1997 to 2013.

You can read that excerpt from our upcoming report by clicking HERE or by visiting our website.

The five Koch Family Foundations alone donated more than $73 million to 63 foundations, academic institutions, think tanks and advocacy groups associated with the climate change counter-movement. Koch Family Foundations funding of these organizations peaked at a total of $8.5 million in 2006 — the year Gore’s Inconvenient Truth was released. From 2007 to 2013, the cumulative totals given directly to groups associated with clean energy opposition efforts from the family foundations ranged from $4.7 million to $7.5 million.

In other sections of our soon-to-be-released report, “The Disrupted: The Definitive Investigation into Koch Self-interest, Infrastructure and Strategies to Control Government,” we show how the decline of Koch Family Foundations direct funding of anti-climate change groups corresponded with the rise of cloaked Koch investments and increased use of grantmaking vehicles. These include donor-directed dark money funds, and Freedom Partners Chambers of Commerce, the Koch network’s funding arm launched in 2011.

The Koch’s multi-leveled assault, which they call The Structure of Social Change, has had a devastating result.

True Ties Revelations

Ever since our True Ties initiative in 2011, when we first asked why 94% of mainstream media outlets quoted “experts” from fossil fuel front groups without explaining the source of their funding, news organizations have generally taken a more honest approach. From the New York Times to Newsweek, media organizations have frequently chosen to publish corrections and provide greater transparency.

We don’t mean to place David Brooks in the same category as Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute. We are not asking PBS NewsHour for a correction. Perhaps Mr. Brook’s statements on Sept. 1 are the result of our not sharing research with him in time to inform his latest statements.

On Sept. 4, 2016, we sent a letter to Mr. Brooks that advised him of our study in the hope that in the future he will include these missing facts. We have yet to hear from him.


Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog that holds lobbyists, government officials, corporate managers, and others who block the growth of a sustainable economy accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors.