I Dare You to Read Jane Mayer’s ‘Dark Money’ — and Feel the Fury

A man's hand holding a roll of $20 bills, against a dark background
Written by JoAnn Chateau

The wealth inequality and environmental exploitation we have today did not happen by accident. They are the result of a patient libertarian/free-market activist campaign that began decades ago, stealthily funded and directed by wealthy capitalists. Jane Mayer outlines the entire endeavor in her 2016-2017 book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

I’m presently listening to the Dark Money audio version. I already knew about the Powell Memo, and am only too aware of the infamous Koch Brothers, but Mayer fleshes out the details of this horrible takeover of American democracy in remarkable detail. The full report is nearly overwhelming, and I feel furious.

…What were all these organizations and donors promoting, other than the election of Republican candidates to office? Free-market orthodoxy, to start with. “Market principles have changed my life,” Charles Koch declared in the 1990s, “and guide everything I do.” That seems as true in 2016 as it was when he said it. Closely related to free-market faith is the hatred of regulation, federal, state or local…

This ideology helps to explain one of the most important Koch crusades of recent years: the fight to prevent action against climate change. The Koch-sponsored advocacy group Americans for Prosperity has been at the forefront of climate-change opposition over the past decade…

As ferocious as they have been in defense of free-market ideas, the Koch brothers are also acting out of tangible self-interest, Mayer argues…

Alan Ehrenhalt

READ MORE: ‘Dark Money,’ by Jane Mayer | The New York Times

By the way, the Koch Brothers aren’t the only players in this dark saga.

I dare you to read Dark Money — and feel the fury. Do let me know what you think. Meanwhile, here is Thom Hartmann reading an excerpt from Chapter Eleven:

Seeing the Big Picture


About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • You might “enjoy” — which is not quite the right word — “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” as well. Soon after he published it, he got cancer. Coincidence, no doubt. Meanwhile, you might also check out my blog series about SHRUGS — Super Hyper REALLY Ultra Greedy Swindlers. I think it’s normal for most people to put their own interests first, but…SHRUGS would destroy the entire vast tree of life to save themselves the trouble of walking to the recycling bin. So far as I can tell, they feel little or no kinship to the rest of life or to humanity.

  • This book seems to be close to the one I’m reading (off an on). Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” by Nancy MacLean.

    And yes, even the Introduction will get your blood hot and the first chapter will make it boil. Much of it I discovered in researching for my novel, but this book digs much further. Her research was very well done.

      • Hmm, I hadn’t thought of the one I’m now writing as “dark,” but I suppose it could be viewed as such. My first was much more philosophical and challenging to the Christian/theocratic reader, so I’m sure they would consider that one “dark.” But thank you for the encouragement. 😀

      • Oh yes, political corruption is definitely in both my published novel and the one I’m writing. In, The Empathy Imperative, political corruption as well as a true account of the rise of the neoconservatives and their dark worldview are covered. In fact, I have to laugh (darkly) when I see that much of what I wrote as a projection to the future has and is actually happening.

        The following excerpt is only a part of the full history and my projection into the future of what might occur if the pendulum of politics became inextricably entangled to the far right with corporate greed:

        . . .Yet, even with the government controlled by [neoconservative] oligarchs and policies moving their way, in a republic—a constitutionally limited, representative democracy—the support of the population had to be secured before the republic could be replaced by the oligarchy.

        Thus, since the greatest deterrent to political domination is a well informed, educated middle class, its destruction became top priority. The citizenry had to be reeducated such that they would willingly accept the dismantling of their own economic and intellectual underpinnings. It was a long-term strategy, but the neocons had the patience.

        As the most effective means of reeducation, historically tried and proved, is a strong propaganda network, the Fairness Doctrine, which had prevailed upon networks to broadcast all sides of an argument, was ended. The traditional wall between newsrooms and advertising departments came down, allowing corporate and political control over news content. Deregulation abolished limitations on how many, and what type of news outlets a single corporation could own.

        These measures allowed the building of the oligarchs’ propaganda network for one-way slanting of the news and the propagation of unchallenged falsehoods.

        The oligarchs, largely financed by Wall Street and the oil barons, then seeded radio and television airwaves with self-serving, corporate propagandists, and consolidated their “news” network from which they told the public that the other networks—the “liberal media”—mislead them and that they, themselves, where unbiased and evenhanded.

        For control and consistency in messaging, propagandists across the nation received their talking points directly from the oligarchs in charge of the conservatives’ supreme council—the Republican National Committee.

        To lend an air of legitimacy and credibility to the propaganda, wealthy corporatists bankrolled policy foundations known as “think tanks” to churn out misleading studies and reports on the economy, on foreign policy, and on illegal immigration, thus obscuring reality and ramping up the level of fear. Even networks with a past record of objective reporting were taken in by the “studies” emanating from the think tanks and echoed by corporate propagandists.

        Thusly the neoconservatives poisoned America’s collective pool of ideas, infecting the media with disinformation about their own goals and about their opponents’ desire to convert capitalism to socialism and to confiscate their guns and Bibles. . .

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