On — of all days — Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022. I’m not kidding, that’s exactly what the CBS Sunday Morning program did with their “Suing over climate change: Taking fossil fuel companies to court” report. In doing so, they telegraphed to the whole country how enviro-activists indeed only have one viable-looking weapon in their arsenal when it comes to supporting their claim that fossil fuel companies deceived the public into thinking no harm was happening while ‘knowing’ their products were causing catastrophic man-caused global warming.
The premise of CBS’ 6:45 minute segment was quite simple, featuring Charleston, South Carolina Mayor John Tecklenburg offering his views on sea level rise, and Connecticut Attorney General William Tong assuring the CBS audience that the lyin’ Exxon company knew in the early 1980s about the certainty of man-caused global warming. David Middleton, a guest post author at Anthony Watts’ WUWT website, has already dealt at quite some depth with the faults of Mayor Tecklenburg’s ‘science’ assertions. Attorney General Tong’s assertion of Exxon knowing in 1982 that “as the levels of carbon dioxide rise, the temperature of our atmosphere will rise” is contradicted by Exxon’s own 1982 document expressing sizable doubt about what computer models were predicting. That document also inconveniently dates to within two years of newspaper accounts speculating on the dim prospect of a new ice age, a larger science discussion which Exxon quite likely also knew about.
Between Tecklenburg’s and Tong’s viewpoints, CBS stated that the U.S. global warming lawsuits “are modeled after the ‘Big Tobacco’ cases of the 1990s, and accuse the companies and industry groups of making false and misleading claims about climate change” while their video simultaneously showed – in rapid succession without attribution – two print ads, where the clear implication is that the ads are false and misleading.
In their online transcript version of this broadcast segment, typically as many news outlets do, CBS Sunday Morning captioned its single ‘newspaper ad’ illustration with a source name and a bit of additional ‘information’ not spoken in the video:
One of a series of 1991 newspaper ads from the Information Council for the Environment, an energy industry group. Internal documents said the goal of their advertising campaign was to “Reposition global warming as theory (not fact).”
[source:] Information Council for the Environment
When I saw a broadcast report in the summer of 2020 by the BBC with a quite similar premise to this CBS Sunday Morning report, I didn’t simply write about it, I made the effort to file a formal complaint to the BBC. Utilizing the CBS company’s website feedback form, I sent the following text verbatim to them on the same evening of their broadcast. The link in “Error 1” was included in my text complaint regarding a minor oversight for CBS. However, I’ve have embedded three links here for readers here to click on, which go to screencaptures backing up my specific points:
4 errors in need of retraction your 4/17/22 “Suing over climate change: Taking fossil fuel companies to court” report
CBS Sunday Morning staff,
Error 1: King County in Washington state as one of two dozen U.S. lawsuit participants – King County self-dismissed its lawsuit in Sept 2021 – see: https://aboutblaw.com/ZPQ
Error 2: The “Information Council for the Environment” (ICE) “Chicken Little” newspaper ad illustration – that ad was never published, it was never seen by the public, and therefore cannot serve as evidence of fossil fuel industry ‘disinformation campaigns.’ Note that your inexplicably cropped copy has “Informed Citizens” at its bottom right, contradicting your online caption that this campaign was named “Information Council for the Environment.” Your copy is a horribly degraded multi-generation photocopy condition. What’s your explanation for that?
Error 3: Your online caption under the “Chicken Little”ad claims ICE’s goal was to “reposition global warming as theory, (not fact).” The administrators of ICE, if you make the effort to contact them, will confirm that the “reposition global warming” strategy goal was part of a proposal to them which they rejected outright. The “Informed Citizens” name was also rejected; confirmed in a 7/8/91 New York Times Matt Wald piece.
Error 4: Your report seems to imply the ICE campaign (a short-lived PR effort containing no actual disinformation) was an effort by one of the energy companies named in the ‘two dozen’ global warming lawsuits. None of the defendant companies had any affiliation with the ICE campaign.
You need to retract the assertions associated with the above 4 errors and also explain why your “Chicken Little” ad copy and the other one in your video – no matter how they were provided to you – DO NOT source from the ICE campaign, but are instead photocopies from Greenpeace USA.
Will CBS Sunday Morning retract anything in their report? One possible demonstration that they received and read my complaint would be if we see a revised map from them eliminating King County v. BP et al., which reduces their statement of “more than two dozen cities, counties and states” to exactly two dozen — 24 total. Their count differs from my count, but that’s another math / filing interpretation story.
At this point, I should note a sort of retraction myself regarding a detail in my above complaint to CBS, but my clarification will not hurt my claims, and will not help their situation one bit. When I said …
… your “Chicken Little” ad copy and the other one in your video … DO NOT source from the ICE campaign, but are instead photocopies from Greenpeace USA …
…. I’m correct about the Chicken Little ad, when my long-ago downloaded PDF file image from Greenpeace’s archives is compared to CBS’ Chicken ad copy. But with regard to that other one, the “Serious problem” ad which was published in Flagstaff / Bowling Green / Fargo newspapers (I detailed that here and here), Greenpeace’s degraded photocopy is actually far worse than what appears briefly in the CBS video version of their report, which I’ve captured in a full screen view for best clarity.
Who was revealed as having that clearer copy? Neither Mayor Tecklenburg’s Charleston v Brabham filing (the 11th one from the Sher Edling law firm that uses those illustrations in all 15 of its boilerplate copy filings) nor AG Tong’s Connecticut v. ExxonMobil filing; it doesn’t mention the ICE in any manner. And it isn’t the supplier of evidence to Sher Edling, Kert Davies, whose Climate Files website still currently shows the horribly degraded versions that trace all the way back to his tenure at the old Ozone Action organization, which is the place that gave the first ongoing media traction to the “reposition global warming” ‘leaked memos,’ a year before Ross Gelbspan boosted that further.
Who appeared within just the last two years in a not-likely-to-be-sheer coincidence situation with a previously unseen, associated with a much clearer “Serious problem” ICE ad?
Readers of GelbspanFiles will remember how I asked about that new barely two years-old development in my “The Real ICE ads, Part 2” blog post.
The BBC article I refer to there is this lengthy one which relied largely on “Merchants of Doubt” documentary movie star/book author Naomi Oreskes and Kert Davies for its accusations about fossil fuel industry-led ‘disinformation campaigns’ (BBC’s online article itself was an outgrowth of an August 2020 BBC radio broadcast interview featuring Kert Davies).
A third of the way down in that BBC article was Oreskes dutifully regurgitating talking points about the ICE campaign, followed immediately by two never-seen-before-in-public ad photocopy versions. Compare the BBC article’s “Serious problem” ad copy, left, to the CBS version.
Identical dust spots. I was thinking the CBS video arbitrarily stopped before it got to the bottom of the ad, but as seen here, the BBC version crops the bottom at the exact same level.
Rather than be one more news outlet in a long line of outlets, organizations, and individuals regurgitating what appears to be unsupportable propaganda talking points, CBS Sunday Morning and the entire CBS news organization should take this ripe opportunity to ask a simple question, “what’s really going on here?” and then follow the path this serious, unbiased, objective question leads them, asking why nice tidy problem-solving answers aren’t seen, but instead more and more questions arising about the ‘industry-orchestrated disinformation campaigns accusation’ and the core clique of people who’ve long promulgated it.