The Real ICE ads, Part 5: How long has this disinformation been going on?

Enviro-activists say that not only did Exxon and the rest of the fossil fuel industry know the science of man-caused global warming was settled as far back as the 1970s, they paid ‘shill’ expert climate scientists to say it was not settled in deliberate disinformation campaigns. Enviro-activists, however, are loathe to engage in any direct science discussions with those skeptic scientists because, well …, quite simply they do not have expert level climate science experience or knowledge to match the expertise of those skeptics. How do enviro-activists circumvent that fatal problem? They need a shell game diversion. They have one in the claim that smoking gun proof for those corrupt disinformation efforts was revealed in ‘leaked industry documents’ in which – I’m paraphrasing here – industry executives declared ‘victory will be achieved when we reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.’ No joke on the literal words there, anyone can undertake an extensive internet search to see just how widespread the primary “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” memo strategy phrase is (along with its directly related audience targeting phrases “older, less-educated males” and “younger, low-income women”), and then do the same deep search for the secondary “victory will be achieved” memo set. Both memo sets are worthless as evidence because neither were ever implemented anywhere by any fossil fuel industry executive. It is disinformation, whether accidental or deliberate, on the part of any enviro-activist to say any fossil fuel company operated under the directives of either memo set.

The most plausibly sinister-sounding of the two sets was used by Al Gore in his 2006 movie in an accusation comparison of its strategy to a tobacco industry memo strategy, and he first quoted the set’s audience targeting phrase in his 1992 book; yet the rejected “reposition global warming” set’s key strategy was so obtusely worded that it was rejected outright by the people it was presented to. One of the officials in the “Information Council for the Environment” (“ICE”) PR campaign told me firsthand that their official copy was ultimately tossed into the trash, while the head of the campaign implied elsewhere that its too-narrow audience targeting suggestion was idiotic.

But someone else apparently thought the memo set copy they had, including its worthless discarded unused bits, could be turned into a weapon to use against the fossil fuel industry. Who ‘leaked’ it and when, and how did they portray the set to the recipients back then? What did the recipients know about the validity of the set, and did they undertake any due diligence to find out anything about the set?

This Part 5 blog post is one more outgrowth from when I utilized the free trial period offered by the site to find out which specific newspaper ads from the ICE campaign were actually seen by the public (my prior blog post was another outgrowth – that’s a whole other story). What follows is part of what I found in the earliest available mentions of the ICE campaign in old newspaper scans.

The small Utah Vernal Express newspaper noted the following under its March 13, 1991 “Western Resources Wrap-Up,” where its apparent ‘Washington D.C. correspondent’ Helene Monberg, said,

Western Fuels and other cooperatives and utilities have formed a new organization, Informed Citizens for the Environment (ICE) …

The problem there is that “Informed Citizens” was the rejected name suggestion, as reported later in the July 1991 New York Times article about the ICE campaign. However, it’s still unclear if Ms Monberg gleaned that name from any leaked memos. It’s long been my impression that the the main administrator of the ICE campaign, Western Fuels Association general manager Frederick Palmer, wanted the ICE campaign to be named the “Information Council for the Environment,” period. She interviewed him on February 25, 1991 and may have talked with other participants in the ICE campaign who might have mentioned the “Informed Citizens” name, along with what its basic intended purpose was, namely telling the public what the science-based rebuttal was to enviro-activists claims about ‘settled global warming science.’

More problematic is what’s seen in The Bismarck Tribune‘s April 16, 1991, “Utilities say global warming theory unproven” article, published 26 days prior to any ICE newspaper print ads being published anywhere.

I suggest there are three items within the article that point to its source being documents – including ultimately unused suggestions – straight out of the ICE campaign.

But there’s more seen in those old newspapers.

A May 12, 1991 Minneapolis Star Tribune article (full context PDF files: front page teaser – lower left / main article / continuation – mid-right) refers to the ICE campaign’s newspaper ads being unveiled — future tense — by the “Information Council on the Environment,” in Chattanooga, while noting that the ads will “liken global-warming warnings to the cries of Chicken Little…

One more indicator that the Star Tribune reporter saw internal ICE documents is his remark about the “selling” that ICE needed to do – question is, did he see that in a days-earlier letter from the Edison Electric Institute?

Compared to the month-earlier Bismarck Tribune piece, the tone change is noticeable at the Star Tribune; undercutting the ICE campaign in its Page 1 teaser box, while calling it “contrarian” and “acerbic.” They at least minimally allowed one of the administrators to say what the simple goal was, provide balance to the public on the issue that wasn’t otherwise seen in news media reports … and then offered an ad hominem accusation from a scientist who didn’t address the content of the ICE campaign.

But nowhere within the article does the reporter say where his ICE information sources from. The reporter does provide one more confirmation of what I detailed in my October 11, 2018 blog post about a long lost June 20, 1991 Greenwire fax news report, namely that contrary to recent claims, the Edison Electric Institute did not spearhead the ICE campaign, they had no involvement with actually operating it. He also notes that the National Coal Association had no involvement either. That’s interesting. Al Gore said the alleged ICE docs were leaked to his Senate office by the National Coal Association.

The one other person who says that is Naomi Oreskes, within her 2010 book chapter contribution where she cites the June 20, 1991 Greenwire fax news report which contains no suggestion whatsoever that the documents were leaked by industry officials. In her 2008 Powerpoint presentation, she first repeats the false assertion about the ICE documents collection being preserved at the American Meteorological Society, and then strangely laughs after proclaiming “the documents were leaked to them by someone good!” That’s an even more interesting twist.

The July 8, 1991 New York Times article about the ICE campaign said the documents were provided to them by the Sierra Club (something the Sierra Club has never once acknowledged). Everyone else says they were …

Leaked to the media. Leaked to the press. Leaked to an enterprising reporter. Leaked to the New York Times. Leaked to the New York Times. (wait, what?) Leaked to the Sierra Club. Leaked by unnamed environmental activists to the press (semantics!; “exposed”). Leaked to the public. Leaked, periodLeaked.

The collective inconsistencies in that particular narrative are quite maddening. It doesn’t appear that any one of these accusers could prove the ICE documents were leaked if their reputations depended on it. I’ve put individual quote marks around the word ‘leaked’ in this case whenever I can remember it. I’ve even wondered if the docs weren’t actually planted. It wouldn’t be the first time political leftists planted ‘evidence’ to create fake news stories.

Have a look again at that first Bismarck Tribune April 16, 1991 article, specifically where it says,

… there’s no conclusive evidence that the heating is actually occurring, said Jerry Fiskum, communications manager for Minnkota Power Cooperative Inc. “If global warming is a fact, let’s do something about it, but let’s not jump into legislation until we know what the facts are,” said Fiskum, who spoke to a meeting of public relations professionals in Bismarck Monday …. In late May or June, ICE will launch an advertising blitz in the test markets, Fiskum said. He showed several possible ads, one saying, “Doomsday is canceled again.” Another asks whether Chicken Little told you about global warming.

Where is any “leak” happening in that situation regarding what he showed?? It’s entirely plausible that some local reporter may have attended that meeting and asked for photocopies of what was shown, which the Minnkota rep was glad to share so that more of the pubic might know that skeptic climate scientists exist.

Did the Bismarck Tribune reporter actually attend the Monday April 15 public relations professionals meeting and witness the “possible ads” in person, or was he supplied with the ads and any other related ICE docs? Was he tipped in advance to the meeting, and if so, how was the meeting characterized in advance, and by whom?

Then there is the big one: Where is the sinister disinformation content in the ICE newspaper ads?? Why is it that after 30 years, the public is still being clobbered with horribly photocopy-degraded images with essentially unreadable text, along with never-used names and strategy directives when any competent, unbiased news reporter could thoroughly examine the collective ICE campaign and see that enviro-activists have made a Mount Everest out of a molehill pilot project 3-town PR campaign?

How long has this disinformation been going on? The long knives were apparently out for the ICE campaign before the general public saw a single published newspaper ad. The question now for congressional investigators and law firms defending energy companies accused of spreading disinformation is who started this disinformation process and who took the lead in keeping it rolling.