Predictably, Frontline’s Part 3 program offered viewers only half or less of the full story they were telling, which is why the program as a whole could be labeled “disinformation,” but the program lost all the focus it had in Parts 1 and 2 on the ‘corrupt fossil fuel industry spreading disinformation’ accusation angle. I’ll cover that bizarre twist in highlight form toward the end of this post. The far larger problem overall now is the very weird “Naomi Oreskes Hole” that Frontline and Oreskes herself inexplicably dug for themselves. Her inability to keep her mouth shut on various items is the gift that keeps on giving; ammo handed on a silver platter to potential congressional investigators and law firms defending energy companies in global warming lawsuits.
I’m speaking of “Merchants of Doubt” documentary movie star/book author / historian Naomi Oreskes, of course. The new wrinkle arising out of this situation concerns both the teensy little bit Frontline permitted her to say, and her unforced error reaction about what she did not ultimately say.
So, what did she finally say in Part 3, after having been used as a teaser in the introduction mere seconds into Part 1 and again the same way in Part 2?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. She never appeared in the main presentation of Part 3 at all.
In a technical sense, it was false advertising – disinformation – from Frontline to imply she was going to appear on the program. She does not even appear in any kind of ‘supplemental’ videos of additional material not seen in the broadcasts.
The massive irony to this situation concerns the teensy little bit from her that Frontline did permit her to say:
It’s important to understand the past. You can’t understand where you are, if you don’t know how you got there.
It is of course implied that viewers would fully appreciate the current ‘disinformation’ spewed by the fossil fuel industry now if they knew of the total history of it. And who better to tell the Frontline audience about it than “climate disinformation expert” Naomi Oreskes.
That is all exactly backwards. It is important to understand the past because the public won’t understand where they are with the accusation now if they don’t know how the accusation got here today via its core promulgators. Start digging into the history of how these accusers got involved, and you don’t find nice tidy answers, you end up finding more and more crippling problems which could reveal the accusation to be nothing more than outright libel/slander.
Start with her reaction to not appearing on the program for any extended length of time in this Part 3. It was in response to some guy tagging her and her “Merchants of Doubt” co-author with praise how the media was finally catching up to their work, in a re-Tweet of some other account’s post about the April 19th broadcast of Frontline’s Part 1:
Better late than never…I guess. (FWIW we pitched this story to Frontline in 2012. They told us they only did stories that were original to them.)
Notice the lack of delight there. But for serious, objective, unbiased investigators, the immediate questions are: “pitched what story?” / “who’s we“? / “why specifically in 2012?”
By 2012, Oreskes had two stories, not just one. Regarding her much more famous “Merchants of Doubt” story, contrary to the hype about it exposing skeptic climate “liars-for-hire,” and contrary to Oreskes’ own hype of it as exposing how fossil fuel industry lobbying led to doubt undercutting ‘scientific consensus,’ the book is described as exposing “a loose-knit group of high-level scientists .. with deep connections in politics and industry,” but it arguably contained nothing more damaging against skeptic climate scientists than their conservative / political / ideological motivations. Meanwhile, her other damaging-appearing accusation “evidence” back then was in her much more obscure book chapter contribution and directly related Powerpoint presentation concerning the worthless “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” ‘leaked memos’ which have long been falsely attributed to the Western Fuels Association. The problem with that second story of hers is that it is hers alone, so there is no “we” involved there.
Or is there?
She specifically said the mystery “we” pitched the story, whatever it is, in 2012. Not 2013, not 2011. Who else also said essentially the same thing about the same date? Kert Davies, who was quite prominently seen in Frontline’s Part 1 and Part 2.
Did he offer any specifics on what that ‘film’ might be about? Yes, he did, at his Climate Investigations Center “Viewer’s Guide” for Frontline’s 3-part series … that totally excluded Part 3:
… clip is shown from this video produced by the Western Fuels Association. The story of the coal industry’s role, and the electric utility companies and associations role could be another whole Frontline
There’s that name again, the Western Fuels Association. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the reason why these core accusers keep going back to ye olde supposedly Western Fuels “reposition global warming” memos is because that is literally the absolute most viable-looking “evidence” they’ve ever had to prove that ‘Big Coal & Oil’ colluded with skeptic climate scientist ‘shill experts’ to spread disinformation. Second-best is their beloved but equally worthless “victory will be achieved” memos.
Meanwhile, Frontline’s Part 3 program strangely lost all the focus it had in Parts 1 and 2, for who knows what reason. Rather than offer any evidence of industry disinformation undercutting the ‘settled science’ of catastrophic man-caused global warming, it veered into what looked like hits against former Obama Administration Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz over vague insinuations that he was involved in illicit advocacy of natural gas production, and hits against President Obama himself (memo to enviro-activists: you don’t bite the hand that feeds you).
Beyond that, here’s my highlight list of Frontline’s arguably continual disinformation:
- Add 16 additional mentions of the term “climate change” within this Part 3 to the overall count for the all inclusive Parts 1 through 3 online transcript. The real name of the issue is still global warming (inconveniently contradicted by the lack thereof, hence the downplaying of its real name).
- “Hurricane Katrina … part of an emerging trend of extreme weather events” — Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was at the beginning of a hurricane drought of Cat 3 or larger hurricanes that lasted for the next nearly twelve years.
- Methane as far more harmful than CO2 — not a solitary word was told to Frontline viewers about the other greenhouse gas: water vapor. Meanwhile, claims about the harm of methane are disputed.
- “the binding [Paris Accords] international treaty” — as PBS own NewsHour program stated in April 2016, the Paris Accords were nonbinding, and they were of course not a treaty approved by the Senate under Constitutional requirements.
- “REP. RO KHANNA, D-California: We won’t solve the climate crisis unless we solve the misinformation crisis.”— Technically, his first bit is arguably disinformation since his side does not tell the public anything about the science assessments from skeptic climate scientists, and, as I pointed out in my dissection of Frontline’s Part 1 program, he displays the hallmark of psychological projection in his second bit. He hurls the accusation about opponents misinforming the public, however, he and the House Oversight Committee he’s a top member of are the ones having the appearance of hurling science mis-disinformation and political mis-disinformation about corrupt industry executives colluding with ‘shill’ climate experts. Yes, there actually appears to be a widespread disinformation crisis, but it’s not coming from the mass of people broad-brushed as being anti-science, racist, insurrectionist ‘Russian-talking-point’ repeaters.
- “TONY INGRAFFEA: … What climate change means to me is looking in the eyes of my grandchildren and wondering what kind of hell they’re going to pay.” — That is also arguably disinformation. While the speaker may have the basic free speech right to hold his opinion, Frontline abdicated on its journalism responsibility to point out that this person’s grandparents, around the turn of the 20th century, might have wondered what kind of future their grandchild might be facing in light of cataclysmic weather events happening around that time – epic hurricanes / heat / heat & snow simultaneously / vanishing glaciers / devastating forest fires / typhoons of epic proportions / epic floods / tornadoes and more tornadoes of epic multi-state proportions / and more hurricanes…… you get the picture by now. Imagine what the grandparents of the grandparents must of thought about the future climate in the face of ….. well …
Take every one of those headlines and more from the days 100-120 years ago of zero SUVs and vastly smaller numbers of giant coal / oil / natural gas-fired power plants and turn them into headlines from 1-10 years ago that blame you and your SUV for harsh weather, and you see the acute problem with what ex-Greenpeace USA neé Ozone Action director John Passacantando said back in Part 1 as an inadvertent display of pure psychological projection, pointing an arrow the size of Texas as where the real disinformation in this issue appears to be:
You want to make an assumption that it’s a meritocracy. A good argument will prevail, and it will displace a bad argument. But what the geniuses of the PR firms who work for these big fossil fuel companies know is that truth has nothing to do with who wins the argument. If you say something enough times, people will begin to believe it.
Sound familiar? Replace the “geniuses of the PR firms who work for these big fossil fuel companies” with ‘relentless activists accusing skeptic climate scientists of industry corruption’ and you may have a far more accurate picture of the way things currently are.
If the Frontline program was an actual investigative news outlet instead of an apparent propaganda pusher for narratives from enviro-activists which were never questioned, they could turn their focus 180° against her and the other activists, in order to find out exactly why their accusation narratives crumble apart under even minimal tough scrutiny.