Money Talks

Public TV Tries to Placate Koch

What does $23 million in donations to public television get you? A lot more than a tote bag, according to The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. A New York public television outlet, WNET, went to great lengths to placate conservative industrialist David Koch as PBS aired an Alex Gibney documentary on income inequality that focused on the conservative billionaire. The president of WNET called Koch and offered to let him film a roundtable discussion that would air after the documentary, among other conciliatory gestures. The controversy reportedly also prompted PBS to back off another Koch-focused documentary in the pipeline. All the placation didn’t work: Koch resigned from his position on WNET’s board and reportedly canceled a large donation. Also, according to Koch’s doorman, Koch’s philanthropy doesn’t extend to tips. “We would never get a smile from Mr. Koch,” he says in the Gibney film. “Fifty-dollar check for Christmas, too—yeah, I mean, a check! At least you could give us cash.”