A blog post on the Media Matters for America website criticizes Newsweek for failing to disclose the energy industry ties of an op-ed author, Randy Simmons, who penned an article railing against wind power. The Media Matters post notes:
“…Simmons isn't just any professor of political economy; he is the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy at Utah State's business school. He's also a senior fellow at the Koch- and ExxonMobil-funded Property and Environment Research Center.”
The editor of Newsweek has since added an almost word for word note to the top of its errant article that reads:
“The author of this piece, Randy Simmons, is the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy at Utah State University. He's also a senior fellow at the Koch- and ExxonMobil-funded Property and Environment Research Center. These ties to the oil industry weren't originally disclosed in this piece.”
The Newsweek editor’s note and the Media Matters article both link to the same LinkedIn web page which had indicated that Simmons was currently a Charles G. Koch Professor of Political Economy at Utah State University. That LinkedIn page has since been updated to reflect the fact that Simmons’ status as a Koch Professor ended in 2013.
A quick peek at the Utah State website also reveals that Simmons is not listed as a Koch Professor but is rather associated with something called the Koch Scholar Program. Noting this association rather than erroneously labeling him a Koch Professor wouldn’t dilute the author’s ties any but would certainy add an extra tinge of truth to Media Matters’ pointed criticism.
The author responded right away via email to let me know that Media Matters had contacted Utah State University to confirm Simmons' position at the school and added the following correction to its article:
"This post has been updated to reflect that Simmons is no longer the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy at Utah State's business school. At the time the post was written, Simmons listed himself as the Charles G. Koch professor on both his LinkedIn page and his personal website. He has since updated his LinkedIn page and told The Washington Post he no longer holds that title, and a Utah State official confirmed via email to Media Matters that the funding for the Charles G. Koch professorship was a fixed term from 2008-2013. He remains a supervisor of Utah State's Koch Scholars program and a senior fellow at the Koch- and ExxonMobil-funded Property and Environment Research Center. "