Last September 13th, we wrote about the Koch brothers: their reactionary agenda and their secretive methods. [Here] We learned about them through an excellent piece, “Covert Operations” by investigative reporter and staff writer Jane Mayer, in the August 30th edition of the New Yorker. [Here] The article was widely quoted and effectively opened the lives and political machinations of the billionaire Koch brothers to the glaring light of day. What we didn’t know then, but certainly could have suspected, that Jane Mayer’s essay would cause a huge target to be painted in the small of her back. I’m also certain that the New Yorker’s attorneys have been busy defending both Mayer and the magazine from the Kochs because of the disclosures in her piece.
Jane Mayer is a splendid writer and a courageous woman. She is also no stranger to controversy. She’s taken on high profile and powerful people before from Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin and the bin Laden family and also tackled sensitive, national stories such as the Bush administration’s policy of extraordinary rendition. [Here] However, I doubt that she has ever turned her journalistic pen to more powerful and secretive billionaires who have had an almost pathological stake in doing their work in the shadows.
The online magazine The Gawker ran a story by Hamilton Nolan, titled “The Desperate Campaign To Discredit Jane Mayer.” [Here] It was my first clue that she had been targeted for what Nolan called “a disturbing, organized smear campaign.” For example, Nolan linked to a long letter from Koch Industries Inc.’s legal Department to the New Yorker’s General Counsel asking for the magazine to publish a list of the article’s “biases and financial conflicts of its sources.” This should keep both legal departments busy for the foreseeable future.
The very conservative (and free) Washington Examiner (owned by conservative Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz [Here]) also got into the act, railing against the New Yorker piece. They also tried digging into Mayer’s background for any dirt, plagiarism or biases that they could find to throw against her. They came up empty and we hope they have moved on.
Jane Mayer is simply a fine jouralist/writer. Period. She’s also a New Yorker, bred and raised. She graduated from Fieldston and Yale and went on to study at Oxford. I would also like to note that she is the granddaughter of the honored Columbia University historian Allan Nevins. [Here]
Aside from her New Yorker reporting, Mayer has also co-authored Strange Justice: the Selling of Clarence Thomas (1994) and Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-1988, (1989) and The Dark Side (2008), the uses of detainee interrogation, possibly illegal, used by the CIA.
Yes, Mayer is a serious and extremely capable writer, who has a sharp eye and the grit to tackle subjects that citizens in a democracy should know about. Jane Mayer did her nation a deep service by writing about the power and influence and arrogance wielded by the Koch money.
I wonder what she’s working on now...