Daniel Schulman

  • Aired:  06/17/14
  •  | Views: 22,116

Daniel Schulman takes a look at the Koch brothers, who are part of one of America's most powerful and enigmatic billionaire families, in "Sons of Wichita." (7:05)

Watch Full Episode

WELCOME BACK. MYGUEST TONIGHT,

A SENIOR EDITORFROM MOTHER JONES MAGAZINE.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED "SONS OFWICHITA: HOW THE KOCH BROTHERS

BECAME AMERICA'S MOST POWERFULAND PRIVATE DYNASTY."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAMDANIEL SCHULMAN.

SIR!... SIT, SIT. ENJOY, ENJOY.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> MY PLEASURE.

>> THE BOOK IS CALLED "SONS OFWICHITA."

AND I AM, I AM VERY ANGRY WITHYOU.

YOU'VE PRESENTED A BOOK HERETHAT'S VERY COMPLEX, THAT'S VERY

WELL RESEARCHED.

IT'S QUITE FAIR, AND THESE KOCHBROTHERS ALMOST SEEM HUMAN IN

YOUR DEPICTION.

>> I APOLOGIZE.

>> Jon: HOW COULD YOU, SIR?

>> IT REALLY, IT'S AFASCINATING STORY OF THESE...

I MEAN, THE TWO BROTHERS ARESORT OF THE FAMOUS ONES.

BUT, THERE'S FOUR OF THEM.

>> RIGHT. RIGHT. SO, I MEAN,

THE INTERESTING THING ABOUTTHIS FAMILY IS YOU REALLY HEAR

JUST ABOUT CHARLES AND DAVIDKOCH.

OF COURSE THERE ARE FOUR KOCHBROTHERS. AND WHEN I WAS

RESEARCHING THIS BOOK, I WAS YOUKNOW, THE POLITICAL PART OF

THEIR STORY IS ALMOST THE LEASTINTERESTING PART OF IT.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THESE BROTHERS DUKED IT OUTOVER CONTROL OF THE FAMILY

COMPANY. IN ONE OF THEM,WHAT'S GOT TO BE ONE OF

THE MOST BARE-KNUCKLED BRAWLS,LEGAL BRAWLS IN HISTORY,

AND THE INTERESTINGPART ABOUT IT IS THAT, YOU KNOW,

WHEN THEIR DAD DIED IN 1967...>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> BEQUEATHING THE FAMILYFORTUNE TO HIS SONS, YOU KNOW,

CHARLES KOCH FINDS ALETTER AFTER HIS DEATH

AND IT SAYS, YOU KNOW, BE KINDAND GENEROUS TO EACH OTHER, AND

YOU KNOW, THIS MONEY CAN BE ABLESSING OR A CURSE.

IT ENDS UP BEING BOTH BECAUSETHEIR INHERITANCE ENDS UP

FUELING THIS NASTY, NASTY LEGALWAR BETWEEN THE BROTHERS.

>> Jon: BUT IT'S ALMOST... YOUKNOW I, YOU READ ABOUT THEIR

CHILDHOOD AND THE WAY THEFATHER... YOU KNOW, IT'S A

DIFFERENT ERA, BUT THEREWAS ALMOST LIKE A DARWINIAN

ETHOS IN THE FAMILY, LIKE THEDAD WAS SORT OF LIKE,

WHO AMONGST YOU WILL BESTRONGEST? FOLLOW ME.

LIKE IT'S NOT SURPRISING THATTHEY DUKE IT OUT AFTER HIS DEATH

BECAUSE WHILE HE WAS ALIVE, THEYDUKED IT OUT, AS WELL.

>> THEY DID.

I MEAN, FRED KOCH, THEPATRIARCH, WAS A JOHN

WAYNE-ESQUE CHARACTER, VERYGRUFF, STAND-YOUR-GROUND GUY.

HE WAS EXTRAORDINARILYCOMPETITIVE.

AND, HE FOSTERED THAT SENSE OFCOMPETITIVENESS IN HIS SONS.

AN INTERESTING STORY THAT IHEARD WHEN I WAS REPORTING ON

THE BOOK WAS THAT, YOU KNOW, THECARETAKER FOR DAVID AND BILL,

THE FRATERNAL TWINS, WHEN THEYWERE GROWING UP, ACTUALLY

CARRIED BOXING GLOVES AROUNDWITH HIM, BECAUSE THESE GUYS

WOULD GET INTO SUCH BRUTALFIGHTS THAT THEY WERE AFRAID

THEY WERE GOING TO LITERALLYKILL EACH OTHER. SO...

>> Jon: OH, MY GOD.

SO THEY DIDN'T HAVE A CARETAKER.

THEY HAD MORE OF A CORNERMAN. ITWAS A CORNERMAN.

>> A CORNERMAN.

>> Jon: COMES OUT WITH ABUCKET. COMES OUT WITH A CHAIR.

OBVIOUSLY NOW THEY ARE... HOWARE THESE GUYS DIFFERENT FROM

THE BIG-MONEY INDIVIDUALS WE'VECOME TO KNOW IN POLITICS, THE

RICHARD MELON SCAIFE, SOROS, YOUKNOW, THE GUYS THAT WE'VE ALL

BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO, SHELDONADELSON, THROWING MONEY INTO

POLITICS.

WHAT MAKES THESE GUYS DIFFERENTAND MORE INTERESTING AND MAYBE

EVEN MORE FORMIDABLE?

>> YOU KNOW IN SOME WAYSTHESE GUYS HAVE BEEN PLAYING A

VERY LONG POLITICAL GAME.

FOR CHARLES KOCH, THIS GOES BACKTO THE '60s.

IT'S BEEN A CAMPAIGN OFINSTITUTION BUILDING,

METHODICALLY FUNDING ADVOCACYGROUPS, THINK TANKS, THINGS OF

THAT NATURE.

AND AT THIS POINT THEY NOWREALLY HAVE WHAT YOU COULD CALL

A SHADOW POLITICAL PARTY WITHINTODAY'S REPUBLICAN PARTY.

I MEAN, THEY WERE ABLE TO RAISE$400 MILLION IN THE LAST

ELECTION...>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THAT'S HOW MUCH THEREPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE...

>> Jon: AND IT'S NOT, IT'SINTERESTING. IT'S NOT THEIR,

IT'S NOT ALL THEIR MONEY.

>> IT'S NOT.

YOU KNOW, THEY BROUGHT TOGETHERA LOT OF DONORS. YOU KNOW,

THEY'RE PROBABLY CONTRIBUTINGTHE MINORITY OF THE MONEY TO

THESE POLITICAL EFFORTS. THEY'VE300 OR MORE HIGH-NET WORTH

INDIVIDUALS...>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> WHO ARE CONTRIBUTINGTO THESE CAUSES.

>> Jon: WHY DO YOU THINK THEYWANT SO DESPERATELY TO REMAIN

ANONYMOUS?

>> THIS IS SOMETHING THATACTUALLY GOES BACK TO THEIR DAD,

FRED KOCH, VERY, VERY PRIVATEGUY. AND ESPECIALLY AFTER HE,

YOU KNOW, HE WAS A LEADER OFTHE JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY,

CONTROVERSIAL GUY IN HIS TIME.

AND HE CAME UNDER SCRUTINYDURING HIS ERA.

I THINK THAT CAUSED HIM TOBECOME QUITE PRIVATE.

AND THAT RETICENCE HASREALLY CARRIED OVER TO HIS

FOUR SONS IN A MAJOR WAY.

>> Jon: BUT THESE GUYS DON'TREALLY FIT INTO ANY, YOU KNOW,

AT FIRST THERE WAS THISSENSE THAT THEY'RE KINDA WITH

THE MORE PURE LIBERTARIAN STRAINAND THEY'RE GOING TO BUILD THAT.

BUT THERE'S A SCHISM WITH THATAND THEY MOVE MORE TO THE

REPUBLICANS NOW.

WHAT, WHERE DO YOU SEE THEMSHAKING OUT?

>> YOU KNOW, WHAT, THEY WEREREALLY PART OF BUILDING THE

LIBERTARIAN MOVEMENTOF THE 1970s, BUT HONESTLY,

IT GOT A LITTLE BIT KOOKY.

YOU HAD THE DUNGEONS & DRAGONS,YOU KNOW, NERDS IN THERE.

YOU HAD ALL THESE KIND OFSTRAINS.

AND THE ANARCHISTS, THEDISAFFECTED SDS MEMBERS.

AND WHAT THEY REALLY WANTED WASTO LEGITIMIZE LIBERTARIAN

IDEOLOGY. NOW, AS YOUREFERRED TO, THERE WAS A BIG

CRACK UP IN THE LIBERTARIANMOVEMENT IN THE 1980s.

AND, THEY GRAVITATE MORETOWARDS REPUBLICAN POLITICS.

BUT, YOU KNOW, THE INTERESTINGTHING IS THEY'RE THOUGHT

OF AS THESE REPUBLICANPOWER BROKERS, BUT ON A LOT

OF KEY ISSUES THEY DON'T ALIGNWITH THE REPUBLICANS AT ALL.

DAVID KOCH HAS COME OUT AND SAIDHE'S PRO GAY MARRIAGE.

THEY'RE PRO REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS.BUT YOU DO NOT...

>> Jon: BUT, THEY DON'T SPENDTHEIR MONEY THERE, THOUGH.

>> THEY ARE NOT SPENDING THEIRMONEY THERE.

>> Jon: SO IS THIS REALLY ALLJUST ECONOMIC INTERESTS?

IS IT PURELY... BECAUSE IN THEREALLY MORE PURE LIBERTARIAN,

THEY'RE STRAIGHT UP AND DOWN,YOU KNOW, FOR PRO FREEDOM

AGENDA, BUT THESE GUYS ONLYSPEND THEIR MONEY ON ECONOMIC

ISSUES.

>> I THINK THESE GUYS AREGENUINE IN THEIR BELIEFS, BUT

CLEARLY THEY'RE LOOKING OUT FORTHEIR ECONOMIC INTERESTS.

>> Jon: I WONDER BECAUSE THEIRECONOMIC AGENDA SEEMS TO HAVE

SUPPLANTED WHATEVER THEREPUBLICAN ECONOMIC AGENDA WAS

ANYWAY.

THEY'RE REALLY ALIGNED ON THATREGARD.

>> YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

AND, I'M NOT EVEN SURE THEREPUBLICANS ARE QUITE...

I MEAN, YOU KNOW, CHARLES KOCH'SIDEAL GOVERNMENT IS REALLY NO

GOVERNMENT.

VERY LITTLE. YOU KNOW.

>> Jon: SOMALIA.

>> IF YOU TALK TO HISLIBERTARIAN ALLIES FROM THE

'70s, THEY'LL SAY HEWAS WHAT THEY CALLED AN

ANARCHO- CAPITALIST, ANDTHAT MEANS HE BELIEVES

THAT PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS CANHANDLE ALMOST EVERY FUNCTION OF

SOCIETY, BASICALLYELIMINATINGTHE NEED FOR GOVERNMENT.

NOW, THAT IS NOT WHERE WE LIVERIGHT NOW.

YOU KNOW, THERE IS SO MUCHPUBLIC INVESTMENT IN

INFRASTRUCTURE, THAT SORT OFSTUFF.

I MEAN, THAT'S, THAT'S NOT THEU.S.

>> Jon: I LOVE THAT BECAUSE ITIS ALMOST AT ITS CORE, IT'S SUCH

AN AN ELITIST VIEW BUT PORTRAYEDAS A FREEDOM AGENDA BECUASE IT

REALLY IS LIKE THE PEOPLE THATHAVE THE MOST MONEY CONTROL

THE ENTIRE AGENDA. IT'S ALMOSTANTI-DEMOCRATIC IN A WAY.

>> IN SOME WAYS THESE GUYS AREPROBABLY THE WORST POSTER BOYS

FOR, YOU KNOW, CHARLES KOCH ISAGAINST THE MINIMUM WAGE

>> Jon: RIGHT.>> AND, YOU KNOW, THEY WANT TO

GET RID OF THE WELFARE STATE,BUT OBVIOUSLY THESE GUYS HAVE

NOT EXPERIENCED A SINGLESOLITARY MOMENT OF FINANCIAL

INSECURITY IN THEIR LIVES.>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'SLIKE TO LIVE ON $2 DAY WHEN

THEY'RE MAKING $2MILLION, YOU KNOW, AN HOUR.

>> Jon: THAT'S A GOOD GIG.

>> IF YOU CAN GET IT, IT IS AGOOD GIG.

>> IT IS A GOOD GIG. VERY WELLDONE.

EXCELLENT BOOK.

"SONS OF WICHITA," IT'S ON THEBOOKSHELVES NOW.

DANIEL SCHULMAN.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Loading...