As I’ve said on several occasions here and elsewhere, the major problem with global warming believers’ enslavement to the “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” phrase is that it is not in any way proof of an arrangement between between skeptics and industry officials involving payments made for false climate assessments. Besides the way it crumbles apart under hard scrutiny, other associated narratives tied to it fall apart the same way. Such as this one, involving the one and only time where Ross Gelbspan himself mentions anything about the situation surrounding the initial appearance of the “reposition global warming” phrase:
The ICE program was discontinued when it was exposed by a trade paper, The Energy Daily, as well as by The National Journal, The Arizona Republic and The New York Times.
Finding the July 8, 1991 NY Times article he mentions was easy when I first started digging into this whole mess, and it propelled me to dig further since it contradicted assertions (such as this one and this one) that Gelbspan was the first person to expose the phrase. But I wasted quite a bit of time trying to find articles from that same time period in 1991 at the National Journal and AZ Republic.
… The advertising campaign attracted some negative press attention, see: “O’Driscoll 1991a and 1991b; Wald 1991; and The Arizona Daily Sun 1991. Greenwire, an environmentally oriented news service, suggested that information had been leaked by industry executives … such as the president of Arizona Public Utilities, who felt that the issue was too complex to be dealt with in a “slick ad campaign” (Greenwire 1991)
The July 8, 1991 NY Times article by Matt Wald confirms not only the name of the Arizona newspaper being the Daily Sun, it also repeats what Oreskes said about Geenwire’s wording of a “slick ad campaign” ….. which happens to be what the AZ Daily Sun said first. But neither the NYT nor the AZ Daily Sun speculated that the ICE memos were ‘leaked by industry executives’.
So, that speculation only comes from Greenwire, which Oreskes describes elsewhere in her book chapter’s Bibliography section as “Inside Track: Sowing the Seeds of Doubt in the Greenhouse. Greenwire, June 19, 1991.” (
I haven’t found a copy at the present time. [Author’s 10/12/18 addition: copy now found, details here] )
According to the Society of Environmental Journalists, Greenwire was founded in May 1991 by Phil Shabecoff and was published by the American Political Network (APN). Shabecoff spoke of his effort as an event that happened shortly after he quit reporting for the NY Times, (full text here) which apparently arose out of concern from his superiors that he had “grown too close to my sources in the environmental movement“. The National Journal acquired APN right around the time Gelbspan was rising to prominence, and perhaps that is why he stated that the ICE memos were exposed by the National Journal.
Intriguing how Gelbspan is currently Facebook Friends with Phil Shabecoff, considering it essentially was Shabecoff who was arguably the most prominent reporter to first publicize the ICE memos and the the “reposition global warming” phrase.
But there’s more, I could probably double or triple the length of this blog post describing additional problems with what might have prompted Gelbspan to make the AZ Republic / Daily Sun error, along with more of his ties to Phil Shabecoff, and with significantly more troubling problems concerning Naomi Oreskes’ association with this whole thing. Plus, Greenwire’s hint about ICE campaign memos being ‘leaked by industry executives’ begs for deeper investigation instead of being a straightforward story detail.
But that will have to wait for other posts, while the basic point comes down to this: no matter which angle Gelbspan’s accusation against skeptic climate scientists is viewed, it is full of holes.