What Does Nearly $5 million Buy?

There’s another good question to ask corresponding to the one in my blog post title: how many times does a pattern have to be repeated before it stops looking like just a coincidence and instead looks like something resulting from a prepackaged set of talking points assembled as part of a larger coordinated propaganda effort?

Let’s recap, for the sake of new readers arriving at this blog:

  • Enviro-activists claim that doubt about the settled science of man-caused global warming stems entirely from coordinated fossil fuel industry-orchestrated/financed disinformation campaigns which, according to supposedly devastating smoking gun leaked memos, employed ‘shill scientist experts’ to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact,” by targeting “older, less educated males” and “younger, lower-income women,” where all the conspirators agreed how their ‘victory will be achieved when average citizens ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science.”
  • While the “reposition global warming” memo set got a sizable news media splash with publicly of it in a July 1991 New York Times article, it was a one-shot publication involving no followup action afterward; the place that first publicly offered wide and continual dispersal of the memos accompanied with accusing analysis about industry corruption was the Ozone Action group between 1996 and 2000, headed at that time by John Passacantando and Kert Davies.
  • While the “Victory will be achieved” memos got a sizable news media splash with publicly about the “Action Plan” they were associated with in an April 1998 New York Times article — no actual quotes appeared in the article from the memos — it was a one-shot publication involving no followup action afterward; the place that first publicly offered wide and continual dispersal scans of the memos, accompanied with accusing analysis, was Greenpeace International beginning in July 1998, with the intention of offering wide and continual publicly dispersal of that accusation material.
  • John Passacantando merged Ozone Action into Greenpeace USA in 2000 and took over as its executive director. Kert Davies joined him at Greenpeace the same year.
  • No later than July 2001, Greenpeace included both sets of leaked memos in their “Decade of Dirty Tricks” report.
  • While both Passacantando and Davies left Greenpeace years later without explanation, both were reunited in 2016 in apparent efforts with others designed to portray Exxon as a corrupt company pushing humanity toward ‘climate chaos.’
  • And as others have reported, nearly $5 million has been received by Passacantando after he left Greenpeace, with apparently undisclosed portions of that being funneled to Kert Davies’ “Climate Investigations Center.”
  • Kert Davies’ other self-described platform for supposedly leaked industry memos is his Climate Files site.

As I said at the end of my February 13, 2020 “Why did the Greenpeace USA Executive Director cross the Road?” blog post, I’d never actually cared what the promulgators of the ‘crooked skeptic climate scientists’ accusation were paid or how they were paid. Up to that point, I was focusing on the smaller ways the accusation falls apart and the specific people connected to it. A rising concern of mine rather recently was the seemingly increasing repetition of what are otherwise two-decade old ‘memos evidence collections,’ each set basically worthless for similar reasons, that should have gotten all the fame they needed if they were valid evidence more than a decade back.

Here’s what I mean by recent repetition within just the last two years. First, from “The Real News Network,” a newer May 2018 reposting of a video I first detailed back in the last part of my September 21, 2017 blog post (the one where I noted how the “reposition global warming” leaked memo phrase makes the briefest of cameo appearances):

Being a rehash of an older video, TRNN at least identified Kert Davies as being connected with Greenpeace in one part of the animation in the video, but identified him more prominently near the beginning as being from the “Climate Investigations Center.” Later in November 2018, as I noted here, “Drilled” podcast ‘reporter’ Amy Westervelt couldn’t even bring herself to say that much.

And for good measure, Westervelt covered the “Victory will be achieved…” memos in her next podcast, where, as I noted here, she erroneously said the memos were published in a New York Times article. Why would a ‘reporter’ leap to that conclusion? Hold onto that thought for a bit …

March, 2019, at the DailyKos:

The goal to goal to ‘reposition global warming as theory .. is at the core of President Trump’s ongoing attempts to attack climate science???’ Where would a blogger get the ludicrous notion that a 1991-era rejected strategy goal proposal for a short-lived pilot project PR campaign is current guidance for President Trump to follow??

April 2019, at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment:Climate Change, “Part I: The History of a Consensus and the Causes of Inaction,” PDF file page 29:

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.
One last question with the API. In 1998 the American Petroleum Institute created a multimillion dollar multiyear communications plan to create climate skepticism. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to add these documents, which we have obtained, to the record.

Obtained from whom? She doesn’t say, however, the committee’s PDF file of those docs will look familiar to astute followers of GelbspanFiles who’ll readily recognize those scans from what I illustrated with screencaptures here. But Rep Ocasio-Cortez didn’t confine her mention of the memos to just one hearing.

October 30, 2019, at the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s “Examining the Oil Industry’s Efforts to Suppress the Truth about Climate Change” (part of which I analyzed here on a different tangent), from Rep Ocasio-Cortez, page 41 of the hearing’s transcript, or alternatively at the 2:05:50 point of the hearing’s video:

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. And in 1998, API’s global science communications team action plan, which involved Exxon, Chevron, Southern Company, and more, laid out the industry’s denial campaign. …
… They said victory would be achieved when, quote, “average citizens,” quote/unquote, understand uncertainties in climate science. Dr. Garvey, would you say these goals accurately represent the mission of Exxon in the past and today?

Since the memos were unsolicited by the head of the API and Exxon officials at the time could not say that the memos’ plan was ever implemented, it would by default be impossible for them to represent the mission of Exxon at any time. But why would a Congressional representative insinuate such an erroneous situation exists? Meanwhile, the source for the memos for this particular hearing aren’t offered, but a subsequent Wonkette story trumpeting Rep Ocasio-Cortez’s mention of the memos hearing offers a potential hint:

Ocasio-Cortez underlined that point by reading from a 1998 American Petroleum Institute document that said “Victory will be achieved when average citizens understand uncertainties in climate science.” Exxon was among the oil companies that contributed to that “Action Plan,” and darned if it doesn’t look like it became the official Republican/Fox News agenda for talking about science.

Hmm. Perhaps Wonkette could have instead said the memos are “at the core of Republican’s/Fox News’ ongoing attempts to attack climate science.” Meanwhile, click on either of the embedded links within the paragraph, and they both take you to identical pages with different page addresses at Kert Davies’ Climate Files site, each featuring the same nine pages of API memos scans seen at Greenpeace back when he worked there with John Passacantando.

Now, much closer to the present time, featuring just the “reposition global warming” memos. On February 5th Desmogblog’s Dana Drugmand had a report on the status of California global warming lawsuits, and it featured a Twitter swipe against Exxon’s lawyer from a Union of Concerned Scientists activist:

What’s ‘reporter’ Drugmand’s connection? She’s also a ‘reporter’ for “Climate Liability News” (recently merged into Amy Westervelt’s “Drilled News”). What’s the origin of CLN? Their “About us” says it’s is a project funded by donations to Climate Communications & Law, and the CCL Board is topped by Kert Davies, Executive Director of the Climate Investigations Center. What’s the Union of Concerned Scientists’ connection? They source the “reposition global warming memos” in their Climate Deception Dossiers from Greenpeace’s Ozone Action-era scans of the memos. Ozone Action being the place where Kert Davies and John Passacantando were first seen together, as I noted at the top of this post. What’s the additional “Drilled” connection here? As I also noted above, Amy Westervelt’s “Drilled” podcasts featured Kert Davies as her go-to “documents” guy for the “reposition global warming” memos.

Last but not least for this exercise of finding recent repeats of decades-old worthless ‘leaked memos,’ why not place both the “reposition global warming” memos and the “victory will be achieved …” memos into a narrative where they can be woven together to insinuate a continuous and industry plot? From February 20th, at The Mic:

Click on the embedded underlined links at the Mic report for each of the respective references to the leaked memos, and the first goes to Kert Davies’ “ICE campaign ads” Climate Files page which also has the “reposition global warming” memos scans, the second goes to his CIC “reposition” memos-only page, and the third is for his “Victory” memos page. But why would the “Mic” ‘reporter’ string two totally unrelated sets of leaked memos together like that, and where on Earth did he get the one-word expanded name “Information Council on the Environment Climate“??

To drive home what the far larger problem may be, have a look at how this stunt by the “Mic” ‘reporter’ was not a new or clever thing to do: Back in 2006, we have the following from ABC News, blending no less than Ross Gelbspan into the mix:

Gelbspan’s connection to John Passacantando and Kert Davies being — don’t forget — being how they mutually ‘obtained’ the “reposition global warming” memos, along with their more recent Facebook Friendships and an apparently exclusive-to-Gelbspan’s HeatIsOnline May 26/27, 2008 Greenpeace press release linking to Greenpeace’s “victory memos” scans while quoting Kert Davies. But why would the ABC ‘reporter’ erroneously credit Gelbspan with an award he never received, while not even fleshing out what the supposedly devastating “redefining” global warming” wording actually was?

This may be the wrong set of overall questions to ask; it presumes each is an individual situation where the person did their own completely independent information gathering and somehow ineptly reported about it.

View enough of these reports, ranging from the ones above, to high school term papers to global warming lawsuits, and they look less like skilled independent research and instead much more like talking points straight out of a propaganda package tailor-made for each particular ‘reporter’s’ situation, where they can freely apply their own wording – and inadvertent assumption errors – to the talking points they otherwise regurgitate.

In my February 13, 2020 blog post, I showed IRS documents detailing the yearly mega-dollar amounts being paid to John Passacantando’s “Our Next Economy” mystery company and included a citation of how an undisclosed amount of the nearly $5 million tally was being funneled to Kert Davies’ Climate Investigations Center.

The question for investigators is a basic one: Is that nearly $5 million being used to operate a slick character assassination campaign against the critics of man-caused global warming which sends out complete coordinated talking point packages and related support help on what to say about the “reposition global warming” / “victory will be achieved …” memos?