Declarations that skeptic climate scientists knowingly lie about the certainty of man-caused global warming as paid shills of the fossil fuel industry appear devastating…… but dig deep into the details, and all those claims look more like a “Keystone Kops-style” farce. I’ve already covered how the endless repetitions never offer physical evidence proving a quid pro quo arrangement exists between skeptics and industry funders, they only repeat Ross Gelbspan’s 1995 paper-thin guilt-by-association narrative. But now, let’s examine how Gelbspan can’t even keep the story straight on when this so-called “corruption of skeptic scientists” was first revealed.
Just so no one forgets, Al Gore was quite clear on who was responsible for the revelation of “corrupt skeptic scientists”:
One of the internal memos prepared by this group to guide the employees they hired to run their disinformation campaign was discovered by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ross Gelbspan. Here was the group’s stated objective: to “reposition global warming as theory, rather than fact.”
(Don’t forget about the wipeouts – plural – concerning Gelbspan’s Pulitzer label, though.)
Gelbspan was also quite clear about his role in the revelation of corrupt skeptics (full text here):
I found out that about three of these skeptics had received about a million dollars over a three-year period, and that was never publicly disclosed until we wrote about it.
What Gelbspan is likely referring to when he says “until we wrote about it” is his lesser-known December 1995 Harper’s Magazine cover story article that was the basis for his more widely read 1997 “The Heat is On” book, in particular, his reference to skeptic climate scientist Dr Patrick Michaels’ testimony at a May 1995 Public Utilities hearing (full text here):
…while the skeptics portray themselves as besieged truth-seekers fending off irresponsible environmental doomsayers, their testimony in St. Paul and elsewhere revealed the source and scope of their funding for the first time.
(Don’t forget about the wipeout concerning Gelbspan being the “only reporter in the room” at that St. Paul hearing, and the manner in which he prompted the funding revelation there.)
The strange thing about the Harper’s article is how he said the Western Fuels Association brought in skeptics for the hearing, but did not say anything about Western Fuels’ ICE campaign and its leaked “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” memo phrase which he later made so famous from his 1997 book that it ended up in Gore’s movie. Full screen, spelled out letter-by-letter in red over the span of six seconds, and immediately equated to an infamous leaked tobacco industry memo. Without a phrase readers could interpret as a sinister top-down industry directive, the Harper’s article had no punch, only unconvincing guilt-by-association as an indictment of skeptic scientists.
Gelbspan solved that problem early on in his “The Heat is On” book by tying that phrase directly to Drs Balling, Michaels and Singer (unless you remember his Balling-Michaels-Idso wipeout) to the “reposition global warming” memo phrase. It was a critical move because it is the ‘glue’ holding the entire ‘corrupt skeptics’ accusation together.
Arguably, the lack of that ‘glue’ is what bogged down the effectiveness of the accusation prior to Gelbspan’s association with it. The earliest media reports mentioning the phrase in 1991 didn’t focus on skeptics’ funding or really imply that they were anything more than logical experts to consult who were already aware of the problems in the idea of man-caused global warming.
Smart as it was to fix that problem in his 1997 book, Gelbspan then completely contradicted what he said in his Harper’s article about the first-time revelation of skeptics’ funding taking place at the 1995 St. Paul hearing. From page 41 of his book,
(The industry funding of Michaels’s publications was first made public by Bud Ward, editor of Environment Writer, the newsletter for journalists published by the Environmental Health Center of the National Safety Council. Unfortunately, the journalists Ward writes for made little use of the information.)
Bud Ward not only independently corroborates (full text here) Gelbspan’s assertion about his own involvement on the matter, he puts a date on it: 1992, three years earlier than when Gelbspan supposedly first reported about it.
(Don’t forget about the wipeout concerning Bud Ward’s valiant efforts to steer people away from seeing the fault in Gelbspan’s “Pulitzer winner” label)
By this point, we’ve come sort of full circle back to Al Gore. He said Gelbspan discovered leaked memo evidence proving the guilt of skeptic climate scientists. But don’t forget, Gore quoted from that same memo set in 1992, and did not say this proof of a sinister industry campaign was revealed by Gelbspan, the Sierra Club, Bud Ward or anyone in the media. From the way his passage reads in his 1992 “Earth in the Balance” book about the memos, you’d think he was the one revealing all of this for the first time:
In discussing information and its value, it is also worth remembering that some self-interested cynics are seeking to cloud the underlying issue of the environment with disinformation. The coal industry, for one, has been raising money in order to mount a nationwide television, radio, and magazine advertising campaign aimed at convincing Americans that global warming is not a problem. Documents leaked from the National Coal Association to my office reveal the depth of the cynicism involved in the campaign. ….
In order to counter entrenched interests like this one, we will have to rely on the ability of an educated citizenry to recognize propaganda for what it is….
When nothing about the “corrupt skeptic scientists” accusation lines up right, and nobody repeating it offers proof that such a situation actually exists, how does more than two decades of repetition of the accusation avoid the following definition?