Gasoline prices are rising, which means it's time for a new round of hysterical media stories about that dastardly oil industry, its obscene profits, and its nefarious ways.
Now the media are at it again, but with a different target. They're turned their guns on Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, whose energy hedge funds have delivered staggeringly successful results for their investors in recent years. (Full disclosure, and sorry to steal the thunder from left-wing conspiracy buffs: Pickens supports the Media Research Center. Not only that, but he's also a friend, though this friend didn't have the Abramoffian common decency to compensate me for writing this.)
In February, the New York Times and CNN reported breathlessly that Pickens had made a $165 million tax-deductible gift to Oklahoma State University (OSU). So what's so scandalous about that? Well, there was more to the story, you see. After receiving the gift, OSU turned around and reinvested it all right back in Pickens' company. How perfectly quaint! If not illegal, certainly it was unethical. No, sleazy. The man took a monster tax write-off with this gift only to have the money put right back into his investment company. They don't call them the greedy rich for nothing. Some friends you've got, Bozell.
Except for a couple of things. What neither "news" outlet saw fit to report was that by the time these stories emerged, just months after the re-investment, Boone Pickens' funds had already generated a cool $20-plus million additional profit for OSU. (That was February, remember.) I understand the number has now topped $40 million!.
Yeah, but what did Pickens make on the deal between management and performance fees? Buried in the Times story in the 12th paragraph, when most people have stopped reading, and ignored altogether by CNN, was this little nugget of information: Pickens had waived all fees and commissions on that reinvestment. In other words, Pickens didn't earn a penny for the work he did increasing the value of his gift to his alma mater to over $200 million.
And get this: The $165 million gifted by Pickens constitutes the largest gift ever received by Oklahoma State University. The fees and commissions waived by Pickens represent the second largest gift ever to that school.
And for that he was attacked by the New York Times and CNN.