Could David Koch Be Calling the Shots on PBS's NOVA?

81068064 Could David Koch Be Calling the Shots on PBS's NOVA?PBS stays afloat thanks to funding from people besides “viewers like you,” and one of those people is David Koch. David is the younger brother of Charles, his partner at Koch Industries, and the two were profiled by Jane Mayer in last week’s New Yorker

The brothers’ involvement with PBS, however, is limited to David. He’s been contributing funding to NOVA, the station’s award-winning science documentary show, and his name has been mentioned as a sponsor. Now, with the New Yorker story inspiring more inquiry regarding the two Koch brothers and their involvement with Tea Party activities—not to mention Yasha Levine’s helpful breakdown of their not-quite-libertarian taste for corporate welfare—people are starting to question the businessman’s motives behind funding an educational PBS series.

Letters started arriving in the inbox of PBS ombusdman Michael Getler when a three-part NOVA series called “Becoming Human” ran in the wake of the New Yorker story, Getler wrote on the station’s website. With the Koch conservative agenda now on everyone’s mind, a few jumped to conclusions regarding one of the messages of the “Becoming Human” special — that our species has endured climate changes before and shouldn’t worry about them. Because Mayer’s piece and Frank Rich’s column in the Times both mentioned that the Koch brothers have funded global warming deniers, the letters accused Nova of shaping the programming in order to keep the Koch wallet close. One viewer from Brooklyn wrote “I am unable to trust anything I saw on that program.” Dave Lucia from Denver wrote “What a shame that Nova sold itself to this pernicious bidder.” Arden Collier from Vallejo, California wrote “I expect better from PBS.”

NOVA Senior Executive Producer Paula Apsell wrote a statement denying these accuasations, assuring viewers that NOVA “maintains complete, independent editorial control of its content.” Getler, who is a pretty objective party in this whole mess, said he trusts NOVA, and called it a “consistently first-rate program.”

Even if the program is defended by PBS brass, one can’t imagine they are pleased to be thrown into the sprawling Tea Party discussions. The theory about climate change in human history was probably unrelated to David’s funding, but any association with the Koch brothers could be a turn-off for NOVA fans who hold opposite political views. 


  1. Laura Robinson says:

    Opposite political views? 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps Koch should just stop giving money to PBS/Nova so there is not concern that Kock is somehow pulling the strings.  
    Simple, let PBS go commercial with no more public/government funding, case closed.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Why, so the Koch brothers can just buy the station with their daddy’s money and then leave no questions about their influence on the content of the station?

      1. JerzeyBoy says:

        So? Let Koch buy if they want.
        Then again, we can just let the oh so honorable US Government fully fund PBS, we can sure trust all the info we get then, eh?

    2. Jordy says:

      That of course is precisely what Republicans have been trying to accomplish for years: remove PBS’ government funding and refund it through corporate grants, so there will no longer be any broadcasting that reflects anything other than the views of the rich and corporate.

  3. Wilburn says:

    While I am happy that David Koch cares about education via PBS, I will  paying more attention to the content of Nova as well as other PBS programs bearing the Koch name. It’s not that I don’t believe in redemption, or that I, as a liberal, do agree sometimes agree  with some libiterian ideas, the Koch funding of such a radical right-wing group as the T Party is of great concern.

  4. Yukon says:

    Congress’s deliberate cutbacks to public funds for PBS and NPR, leaves public broadcasting more dependent on other sources of funding. This is a calculated strategy, by those who would like to be rid of Public broadcasting. Just like PBS NewsHour should not be funded by the likes of Monsanto, Chevron etc, science based programing should not be funded by those with obvious political and environmental agendas, especially the notorious Koch brothers!