According to a tax form recently made public, the Daily Caller News Foundation, which pays for much of the content published on the right-wing Daily Caller website, got 38 percent of its 2017 revenue from two foundations of one of America’s richest men, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch.
Koch, who is worth $51 billion, has crafted a public image of a libertarian business executive opposed to the anti-immigrant and isolationist trade policies of President Donald Trump. After Sludge’s previous report on the Charles Koch Foundation’s (CKF) and the Charles Koch Institute’s funding of far-right, pro-Trump media outlets, Washington Post opinion writer Radley Balko spoke with three upper-level CKF officials who said that “they personally and the Kochs and their foundations more generally find the Daily Caller abhorrent, and feel the same way about Tucker Carlson.”
Balko, an alumnus of Reason and the Cato Institute, both of which receive Koch funding, thinks the Koch Foundation should “set a clear line of demarcation between libertarians and Republicans, and Trump Republicans in particular.” The CKF officials agreed and said the Koch affiliation with Daily Caller “looks bad.”
The officials “also agreed that the Koch affiliation with the Daily Caller certainly looks bad, no matter the original intent. They also said they’re working on a number of other projects to make that distinction clearer. They also said they’ll be reevaluating the grant to the Daily Caller [News] Foundation, though they didn’t appear ready to say that they’d be discontinuing it.”
CKF did not return Sludge’s multiple requests for comment, so it’s unclear whether or not the foundation is reevaluating its Daily Caller News Foundation contributions. The 2017 tax forms are the most recent records available.
‘Semiliterate Primitive Monkeys’
Fox News host Tucker Carlson founded The Daily Caller in 2010, and as of 2017 he served as secretary of the board of the Daily Caller News Foundation. The foundation told Sludge that Carlson is still on its board but has no editorial role.
This week, liberal watchdog Media Matters released audio recordings from a radio talk show between 2006 and 2011 in which Carlson appears to defend statutory rape and calls Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys,” among other bigoted statements.
More recently, Carlson has adopted white nationalist talking points, which he often recites on air during his prime time Fox News slot. Carlson’s rhetoric is so in line with white identity ideology that he’s a huge hit with neo-Nazis; Andrew Anglin, head of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, has called Carlson “literally our greatest ally” and said Carlson’s show is “basically ‘Daily Stormer: The Show.’” In Discord chats recently released by Unicorn Riot, members of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa praised Carlson, writing things such as, “Wow Tucker was openly saying White Identitarian talking points” and “I love Tucker, watching him nightly is what pushed me towards white nationalism.”
Carlson’s Fox News show has already lost advertisers since Media Matters published his alarming comments, with drugmaker AstraZeneca pulling its ads on Monday and bedding company Sheex doing the same on Tuesday.
The 49-year-old host had already lost nearly 30 advertisers in January over anti-immigrant comments.
According to Media Matters, Fox News will hold an emergency meeting about its advertising losses on Wednesday at its New York City headquarters, where Media Matters and 13 other groups will host a #DropFox rally.
The Koch Cash
DCNF raised close to $2.56 million in 2017, significantly more than the $1.14 million it took in the previous year. That’s why the Koch foundations’ contributions to DCNF, which actually increased slightly in 2017 to $980,000, made up a smaller portion of the foundation’s revenue that year. In 2016, the Koch foundations provided 84 percent of DCNF’s revenue.
DCNF President and Daily Caller co-founder Neil Patel provided this statement to Sludge:
“The Daily Caller News Foundation receives funding from hundreds of small donors and from grant-giving foundations, including Koch. Your numbers on our support from Koch, however, are wildly inflated. None of our funders, including Koch, have any say in our content. Tucker Carlson is on the board of directors of The Daily Caller News Foundation but has no editorial role with us whatsoever. If you’d reached out to us for comment on your first story we would have been able to correct its wild inaccuracies.”
When asked what specifically was inaccurate in Sludge’s donation data, DCNF Executive Director Margaret Crilley did not respond. Sludge stands by its reporting, which is based on figures that the Koch foundations and DCNF submitted directly to the Internal Revenue Service on their annual tax forms.
Patel did not answer Sludge’s request for a statement on Carlson’s comments recently unearthed by Media Matters. Patel once worked under Scooter Libby, the chief of staff for former Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted in 2007 of four felonies for perjury and obstruction of justice regarding the unmasking of a CIA agent. Patel was chief adviser for Cheney.
Donald Trump’s third presidential pardon went to Libby, despite President George W. Bush having refused to give Libby a full pardon.
Additional donors to DCNF include several donor-advised fund sponsors—large charitable organizations, often linked to major banks, that offer individual accounts to clients and act as middlemen between the clients and their desired nonprofit recipients. These arrangements offer clients a double tax break and allow clients to anonymize their donations so even the Internal Revenue Service won’t know their identities. Several of the nation’s largest donor-advised funds have financed dozens of hate groups, Sludge’s reporting has found.
Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, the largest charity in the U.S., gave $800,000 to DCNF in the 2015 fiscal year (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015) and close to $38,000 in FY2017. The National Christian Foundation contributed $100,000 to DCNF in 2017. Donors Trust, another donor-advised fund used heavily by the Koch family, gave DCNF $70,000 in 2015. Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program donated $5,000 to DCNF in FY2017.