Billionaire Industrialist David Koch Dies at 79

Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters


We ran the numbers: There are 2189 news articles covering this topic. 29% (626) are left leaning, 60% (1319) center, 11% (244) right leaning.

On Friday, billionaire industrialist David Koch died at age 79 in his home in Southampton, NY. Koch and his older brother Charles were the heads of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States. By 2018, the Koch brothers were worth approximately $60 billion each. The Koch brothers shared a deep distrust of government and used their company to fund conservative causes and bankroll Republican candidates. They have been credited with pushing the Republican Party consistently to the right over the past several decades. However, the Kochs were also philanthropists; David Koch doled out more than $1 billion to cultural and medical nonprofit organizations.

The left-leaning Washington Post published an extensive obituary of Koch, noting his and his brother’s influence on conservative politics, his philanthropy, and his roots in a strict family in Wichita, Kansas. In particular, the obituary notes that Koch Industries is extremely anti-regulatory and has invested a great deal of money in thinktanks and other organizations intended to discredit the reality of climate change. Most headlines from left-leaning articles highlight Koch’s history as a donor to conservative causes.

A right-leaning article from the New York Post characterized Koch as a “billionaire conservative icon.” The article quotes extensively from David’s brother Charles, who said ““David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay.” David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer 27 years ago and lived much longer than was expected from his diagnosis. The article also relates that the Koch brothers donated millions of dollars to back GOP members across all levels of government, “much to the dismay of the opposition party.” Right-leaning headlines were more likely to emphasize Koch as a billionaire and conservative activist.

A centrist analysis by NPR interrogates the difference between the two Koch brothers. The commentators describe David as an active philanthropist to the arts and sciences. In the discussion, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker  said of David “his largest accomplishment politically was they took fringe ideas that were ideas that were helpful to their industry - the oil industry. And they took those fringe ideas that were laughed at in the 1970s, and they put so much money behind promoting them that they are now the heart of the Republican Party and, in many ways, the heart of American politics.”