Politics
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Filmmaker bungles facts in attack on Roger Ailes, Koch brothers

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

Robert Greenwald, the liberal filmmaker behind an anti-Fox News documentary, conceded to The Daily Caller that he did not practice due diligence when he attacked Ohio University’s George Washington Forum ahead of a presentation from Fox News Channel Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

In a column that ran on the Huffington Post and several left-wing blogs Monday, Greenwald alleged that Koch Industries magnates David and Charles Koch were subsidizing Ailes’ speech to Ohio University students. Greenwald wrote that because the Koch brothers donate to the Ohio University organization that hosted Ailes’ speech, they’re behind an effort to indoctrinate young people.

“Why would the esteemed Ohio University host a talk by the likes of Roger Ailes?” Greenwald wrote. “Maybe we should ask one of the talk’s patrons, Charles Koch.”

“Is it just me, or does it look like Charles Koch is paying the university to spread his right-wing ideology?” Greenwald asked later in his piece.

Greenwald also allowed that he was unsure of the details of the Kochs’ role with the sponsoring organization at the school. “In the case of Ohio University,” he wrote, “the full extent of Koch’s donations to the George Washington Forum isn’t known.”

The Koch brothers do contribute to the George Washington Forum, which is run by conservative professor Robert Ingram. But Ingram told The Daily Caller before Ailes’ presentation that he publicly lists his organization’s donors on its website, and that no outside figures — donors or otherwise — control its activities.

“A few years ago, we got a little seed grant from the Jack Miller Center and they said, ‘See what you can do with it,’” Ingram said. “So, I thought we’d set up a speaker series and try to bring not just conservatives and libertarians, but sort of contrarians — idiosyncratic people.”

“It’s about promoting intellectual diversity on this campus, and it’s also about promoting civil debate.”

Ingram said Greenwald did not attempt to contact him before publishing his column, which he said “seemed like bullying.”

Ingram said his first thought after reading the column was, “I have an email. People can ask me what my thoughts on this are.”

He added that Greenwald’s writing seemed calculated  “to intimidate me and, I have to assume, the university.”

“And it seemed that it was not at all ‘reported,’ which was strange for something — for stories — that complain that Ailes isn’t a reporter, right? So, you have reporters who don’t even check their facts.”

TheDC asked Greenwald why he hadn’t interviewed Ingram. “I have no idea who Robert Ingram is,” he replied. “Therefore [I] did not reach out to him.”

Still, Greenwald quoted Ingram, without naming him, in his column.

“The guy who invited him says the point was to get ‘perhaps the most influential newsman in America’ to spark a discussion about ‘free speech and the media,’ particularly given OU’s ‘first-rate school of journalism,’” Greenwald wrote, referring to comments Ingram made to an Ohio newspaper.

Confronted with this inconsistency, Greenwald backed off, explaining his first answer to TheDC by saying he had been “typing too fast this morning.”