Alex Gibney’s latest documentary, Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream, is a searing expose of greed in action. Using 740 Park Avenue (the world’s “richest apartment building”) as a narrative starting point, Gibney casts a spotlight into the murky water between money and power in American politics. Both fascinating and frightening, Gibney’s documentary takes aim at some of the wealthiest men in the country.
Among the mega rich residents indicted in the film is billionaire oil tycoon David Koch. After WNET, New York’s public-television outlet, aired the program, David Koch promptly cancelled his plan to make a large donation (he previously donated $26 million) before eventually resigning from WNET’s board. In subsequent New Yorker Piece, Jane Mayer investigates the connection between Koch’s resignation and the defunding of another documentary critical of David Koch (Citizen Koch).
In response to their defunding, the filmmakers of that documentary, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, had this to say:
The film we made is identical in premise and execution to the written and video proposals that ITVS green-lit last spring. ITVS backed out of the partnership because they came to fear the reaction our film would provoke. David Koch, whose political activities are featured in the film, happens to be a public-television funder and a trustee of both WNET and WGBH. This wasn’t a failed negotiation or a divergence of visions; it was censorship, pure and simple.”The filmmakers consider this an ironic turn: “It’s the very thing our film is about—public servants bowing to pressures, direct or indirect, from high-dollar donors.”
David Koch and his brother are currently in talks to buy eight daily newspapers (among them the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune). One wonders what sort of integrity this Koch media empire will be able to maintain?