The Nov 29, 2023 “Amicus Brief Details Climate Litigation Campaign’s Political Origins” at the Climate Litigation Watch website described the situation surrounding the most recent release of docs out of the New York Attorney General’s office that were demanded by the Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO) watchdog group. The docs – 129 pages of emails – surround Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF)’s Lee Wasserman lobbying the NY AG office to launch basically an “ExxonKnew”-style lawsuit holding fossil fuel producers accountable for causing global warming, where among other efforts, Wasserman arranged a meeting at the AG office for ex-Ozone Action / ex-Greenpeacers John Passacantando and Roland “Kert” Davies. The teaser from Wasserman to the attorneys was that the duo were about to launch a supposedly devastating news event in which skeptic climate scientist Dr Willie Soon would be portrayed as an oil industry shill.
Among the (redundantly copied in some cases) Wasserman/ AG office email exchanges were several in which the correspondents were trying to locate a person named David Brown, who somehow factored into all the efforts. RFF Director Lee Wasserman thought this was a great idea. It turns out he was formerly the head of prior-NY AG Elliot Spitzer’s Investment Protection Bureau office, and ultimately, he was located and had a phone conversation with at least one of the attorneys. The potential problem here is how he later chimed in via email with a seemingly out-of-the-blue reference to a “movie trailer” link, which he must have mentioned in the phone conversation. Why mention that among efforts to nail ‘Big Oil’ to the wall? Well, click on the link the fellow provided, and you’ll see a hint of how that factors in:
There’s more, of course. There always is.
Myself, I’m in the same position right at the moment as the one lawyer who doesn’t see what David Brown’s relevance is. But with regard to my own question, I may have it backwards overall. Why would the “Merchants of Doubt” movie not be mentioned by the participants in this whole Wasserman / NY AG attorneys / Passacantando & Davies anti-Exxon effort? After all, that latter duo had significant starring roles in Naomi Oreskes’ very-soon-to-be-released movie.
Well, Passacantando certainly did, enough so that I mentioned it in my 2015 review of the theater release of the movie. Thing is, what I remember from that single viewing was that only I (among just the eight or so other viewers in a 100-200 seat theater) knew full well who Passacantando was because my impression was that none of the others would. I have no memory of him being identified in the movie in any way with his most famous role, the longest serving executive director of Greenpeace USA.
I’m known to locate certain things from time to time, so I went on a search right after spotting the above “Merchants of Doubt” trailer link from David Brown, in order to find either a full-length video somewhere of the movie or partial clips of it to see if I had a faulty memory of the theater release. Such search results had evaded me in years past. I indeed did find a full-length video of the DVD release, albeit likely arranged in a ‘video screen within a video’ manner to circumvent copyright laws, and I also found a transcription of the DVD version which greatly helped me to locate key words.
In the DVD release, Passacantando’s self description of his Greenpeace job goes by so quickly, a person would miss it if they sneezed. But also keep in mind that DVD versions of movies are not always identical to the theater releases. A potential bit of evidence that this is the case here is what I distinctly remember from the theater version about the movie’s failure to identify who the ultimate North Carolina House GOP primary winner was against Rep Bob Inglis, which I described in my 2015 movie review:
Challengers, plural. That little animated / no audio clip of the GOP candidates has been apparently replaced in the DVD with Inglis simply lamenting the margin of victory, followed by a news report clip from his primary election night defeat where the newscasters still don’t say Gowdy’s name. Probably no coincidence at all that the newscaster clip is the identical one of “the-primary-opponent-who-shall-not-be-named” used in the April 2022 PBS Frontline broadcast of “The Power of Big Oil” …. which featured starring roles from Passacantando & Davies. Back to back in one segment, no less.
What I don’t remember seeing and/or missed from the too-short glimpses of them, were the appearances of Kert Davies in the “Merchants of Doubt” film.
It’s short. It’s quick. But in the DVD version, there they are, back to back.
Davies comes up again a few moments later, first in a dramatic overhead shot among his fellow co-workers immediately before Oreskes speaks, and then again … back-to-back with Passacantando, albeit where Davies would be hard to distinguish beside his bright slide projector light.
Ultimately, the whole NY AG Eric Schneiderman / other State / territory AGs’ efforts to prosecute Exxon on Securities violations – not fully disclosing to shareholders about their products causing ‘global warming harm’ – crumbled to dust in late 2019 on no uncertain terms. Lest anyone forget, Al Gore himself name-dropped Naomi Oreskes’ name back at the beginning of that failed effort.
So the good question arising out of the GAO group’s revelation about Rockefeller Family Fund’s Lee Wasserman parading Passacantando & Davies in front of NY AG office lawyers is …. why was it suggested that David Brown be brought into the mix via a ‘less formal’ effort, and why did he feel compelled to technically name-drop Oreskes’ documentary movie, which had its dismal U.S. opening only two weekends prior to his mention of it, where the whole movie might end up being evidence for the oil company defendants to exploit when pointing out where all the disinformation and potential fraud efforts are actually found within the climate issue?
When I first started trying to find the “reposition global warming” memos in their full context to see if they really were the “smoking gun” evidence of skeptic climate scientists working as disinformation spreaders in industry-led campaigns of deceit, it was soon obvious that there were two kinds of people pushing that specific accusation: mere repeaters of it and others who had apparently seen the “reposition global warming” memo set copies in person. When it concerns people who’ve seen the memo copies firsthand (apart from solitary instances about inconsistent details), it appears there are only basically two lines tracing back to the earliest viewings: the Ozone Action group (meaning Passacantando & Davies) situation of that little group and Ross Gelbspan obtaining the memos …… and Naomi Oreskes all by herself, seemingly in a completely independent acquisition of the memo set courtesy of an alert by an ex-Al Gore associate pointing to an archive stash of them at a place that didn’t actually have such an archive. She’s only put out cursory mentions of Gelbspan’s “Boiling Point” book quotes about the memos, and from all I’ve seen of her work, she’s never once outright mentioned Ozone Action or Passacantando & Davies.
I was able, however, to find the one truly oddball situation whicht I briefly mentioned in my May 21, 2020 blog post, about her appearance at a U.S. house Congressional Progressive Caucus “practice run” hearing where Kert Davies was seen in two separate appearances lurking in the distant doorway with smiling approval.
And I only partly remembered John Passacantando’s appearance from my single viewing of her “merchants of Doubt” movie back in 2015. But now I see Kert Davies in that one, too.
Sheer coincidence? Or are Oreskes / Passacantando / Davies acting as one single unit to promulgate the “crooked skeptic climate scientists” accusation that’s rooted fundamentally in the worthless “reposition global warming” memos?
As more instances like this March 2015 NY AG email chain situation come up indicating there may be a solid connection among this little group of false accusation promulgators, folks with bigger investigation / subpoena power need to be asking those questions. Where there’s this kind of building smoke, you might end up finding a basically epic sized deliberate defamation fire which could grow out-of-control fast enough to burn down the entire “climate crisis” issue.
How will the accusation repeaters like the news media / Attorneys General, politicians and other prominent figures* be able to dig their way out of their hole** when they implied that climate assessments from “crooked skeptic scientists” were beyond the boundaries of reasonable discussion?
Stay tuned for Part 2 – since I have the transcript to “Merchants of Doubt,” I can now illustrate exactly where the actual ‘merchants’ are within Oreskes’ movie.
** “Hey, if you’re here to arrest me, there’s some people I’d like to roll on … I know about the plan ..… And this next bit may include the Vice President as well. Is that important?”