In April of 2013, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s film “Citizen Koch” died an untimely death. The film had sought to illustrate the role of Koch money in American electoral politics. But the very day after the “Citizen Koch” played at the Wisconsin Film Festival, public television funding was pulled in order to placate the right wingers who were the subject of the film.
The Koch Brothers were already smarting from a negative portrayal in award-winning documentary director Alex Gibney’s “Park Avenue.” As Jane Mayer documents in The New Yorker (“A Word From Our Sponsor: Public Television’s Attempts to Placate David Koch,” May 27, 2013), WNET President Neal Shapiro had warned PBS Board trustee and donor David Koch before Gibney’s film was screened. He also allowed Koch Industries to air a disclaimer after the film, which called the film “disappointing and divisive.”