In my July 31, 2020 Part 1 blog post (handily reproduced as a guest post at WattsUpWithThat the following day), I detailed how a BBC Radio4 podcast’s claims about the fossil fuel industry engaging in disinformation campaigns to undercut concern over man-caused global warming is based on spurious references to what turns out to be leaked industry memo strategies that were never actually implemented. I also noted how the podcast incorrectly implicated conservative U.S. talk show host Rush Limbaugh in their accusation, and illustrated how the podcast guest providing the memos very strangely worsened the overall situation by needlessly adding an arguably racially charged word into his quote of one of the unused memo phrases that was not actually in the memo.
Rush Limbaugh somehow learned of that BBC online podcast and its scheduled August 3 on-air radio broadcast, and spoke directly about it to his 15 million+ listeners during his own August 3 live broadcast radio show. The verbatim transcript for that segment (with a link at the bottom to my WUWT guest post version of my Part 1 blog post) is here. Below are excerpts from the segment, where I highlight the key items in red:
BBC Radio 4’s podcast, How They Made Us Doubt Everything, episode 6. It is an unidentified actor recreating an advertisement, and the host here is some guy talking to the Climate Investigations Center Founder Kert Davies about an alleged plot to challenge climate change science. ….
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Stop panicking. I’m here to tell you that the facts simply don’t jibe with the theory that catastrophic global warming is taking place. So, folks, grab hold of yourselves and get the whole story before you make up your mind. ….
[podcast presenter] PETER POMERANTSEV: This advert you’re hearing was sent to the radio host Rush Limbaugh in 1991.
DAVIES: Rush Limbaugh was the most widely listened to conservative talk-show host at that time on radio stations across the country. We have the language that Rush Limbaugh read on the air.
RUSH: So, that actor is me. (imitating voice) “Stop panicking. I’m here to tell you that the facts simply don’t jibe with the theory.” So they’re putting together this bit, today, BBC 4, U.K. “Rush Limbaugh was the most widely listened to conservative talk show host at the time on radio stations across the country.” Still is, you dummkopfs. Still am. I don’t remember this stupid ad.
I’ll guarantee you if the ad ran, fine and dandy. But if people on this program came up with the idea that global warming was a left-wing hoax, it was because of me, not some silly, stupid ad. ….
Limbaugh is a busy person, burdened with myriad news items to cover along with dealing with his own cancer treatments, so he probably didn’t have time to delve deeper into the story. As I pointed out in Part 1, the key item regarding this old ad was the CIC’s Kert Davies failing to say that this ad was not read to Limbaugh’s huge nationwide live-listening audience, it was a taped message played only at the Fargo, North Dakota radio station as part of the Western Fuels Association’s “Information Council for the Environment” (ICE) pilot project public relations campaign, designed to see how people might react to hearing a side of the global warming issue countering the rising popularity Al Gore’s proclamations about global warming, who was still only a U.S. Senator at that time.
BBC podcast guest Kert Davies should have known about the limited broadcast of the ICE radio ad – he worked at the little Ozone Action group that gave the first major lasting media traction to the news of the ICE campaign via their reports about leaked memos that, as it turns out, were never actually a part of the ICE campaign. The one infomercial ad heard only at the Fargo radio station during Limbaugh’s show was a genuine part of the ICE campaign, and Davies should have known that from the time he worked at Ozone Action all the way to the present time.
Meanwhile, as I also said in my Part 1 blog post, Davies made his credibility situation of quoting a memo that was not actually part of the ICE campaign significantly worse when he didn’t simply read the unused memo phrase verbatim as “older, less-educated males from larger households.” Rush Limbaugh’s partial replay of what Davies’ said in the BBC podcast and his reaction to it emphasizes the importance of what Davies strangely decided to inject into that memo phrase:
[RUSH:] … Here’s the second part of the bite where the host and the Climate Investigation Center founder continue discussing it all.
PETER POMERANTSEV: This is written by a group calling themselves the Information Council on the Environment. It’s run by the group that represents the electrical companies in America.
DAVIES: The key line from that one is that they want to reframe the science from fact to theory. They talk about targeting lower educated white males.
NARRATOR: In 1991 pollsters had already clocked that what they called the lower educated older white males could be swayed on climate change. They had decided the way to reach this audience was through a new phenomenon of conservative radio hosts who were beginning to question the mainstream media and liberal elites. Sound familiar? We put this to Rush Limbaugh, but at the time of broadcast he hasn’t responded.
RUSH: Well, that’s because nobody told me that you were trying to reach me, but I wouldn’t have responded to you anyway because you people are idiots and don’t have the slightest idea about this issue. Why in the world do you think I’m gonna respond to a bunch of klutzes like you who want to try to convey that the problem in America from issue to issue to issue is dumb, stupid, uneducated white males?
You guys are white males. What makes you not dumb and stupid? I guess you’re white males. I haven’t seen you. But by the way, this is another great point. In 1991, this is 30 some odd years ago, 28 years ago, and that’s how long white men have been blamed, dumb, stupid white men have been blamed for everything. ……
Peter Pomerantsev and Kert Davies are most definitely white, but Limbaugh would have never brought up that angle if Kert Davies hadn’t falsely injected it into a memo that was — I can’t emphasize this enough — never implemented as a guideline for the ICE campaign people to follow.
If Rush Limbaugh was understandably angered about the BBC’s implication that he was operating under some kind of industry-orchestrated disinformation efforts, he might be doubly enraged to discover how one single word was falsely inserted by Kert Davies to add more dramatic effect to an accusation about a disinformation targeting strategy that never actually happened in the first place.
Limbaugh digressed in the remaining time about how the far-left expresses contempt for white males, a very trendy topic lately stemming from “defund the police” riots. Had he known about the sheer disingenuousness of what was presented as memo ‘evidence’ in the BBC podcast, he could have spent more time on how particular prominent influential enviro-activist figures are not only intellectually dishonest with the general public on their global warming narratives, but also with news media supporters who never question those narratives.
Part 3: “BBC ( sort of … ) Corrects Radio 4”