Rockefeller-Funded Prize Given to Rockefeller-Funded Writers for Advancing Rockefeller-Directed Narrative

The Rockefeller-funded groups pushing the #ExxonKnew narrative – reeling from a number of blows to their campaign – have resorted to giving each other awards.

This week, the once respected Columbia School of Journalism has solidified its role as a shill for anti-fossil fuel interests and bestowed its John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, and $5,000, on the Rockefeller-funded InsideClimate News for its #ExxonKnew series.  For anyone who hasn’t been following this story as closely, the Columbia School of Journalism’s Energy and Environment Reporting Fellowship – also funded by the Rockefellers – produced the #ExxonKnew pieces that appeared in the LA Times, which were notably similar to InsideClimate’s series and hit around the same time last year. No conflict of interest there.

InsideClimate News has been saying for months that its series on ExxonMobil, which claimed that the company “knew” about climate change back in the 1970s and kept those findings secret, was the reason that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched his investigation.  Of course, Schneiderman officially abandoned that rationale last week; he now says his investigation is no longer about what the company knew or didn’t know in the past, but about what it predicts might happen in the future. If you thought the case was of dubious legal merit before this U-turn was taken, well, now it’s just an absolute farce. But here’s the best part: these groups are still claiming that they were the catalyst for the Schneiderman investigation. From the press release announcing the award:

“[T]his profoundly important work by ICN along with several other investigations has led to ongoing litigation against Exxon.”

That’s just the beginning though. The panel of judges includes not only a number of Columbia professors but also Bill McKibben, co-founder of the Rockefeller-funded McKibben has been the #ExxonKnew campaign’s most prominent spokesperson, recently penning an op-ed claiming that Exxon “murdered” the coral reef. The award itself was created and previously administered by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – and Laurance Rockefeller of the Rockefeller foundations sits on the NRDC board of trustees.

So, to recap: What we have here are Rockefeller-funded organizations passing around Rockefeller money to recognize the good work these groups have done to advance the Rockefellers’ desired narrative about Exxon and climate change. Not surprisingly, in announcing the award, the Columbia School of Journalism repeats the debunked talking point (which Schneiderman himself has now abandoned) that Exxon “established that continued use of fossil fuels would have ‘catastrophic’ effects on the Earth’s climate” and then “deliberately and strategically covered it up for decades.”

First of all, even Neela Banerjee, reporter for InsideClimate, has said in interviews that “we never said Exxon stopped its research, nor suppressed the results.” Michael MacCracken of the Rockefeller-funded Union of Concerned Scientists, whom Banerjee credited with tipping her off to the “story,” also admitted in a blog post that Exxon’s research was included in a major peer-reviewed study by the Department of Energy, which is obviously accessible to the public.

Energy In Depth has noted many times that when you read the actual documents – which InsideClimate was able to obtain precisely because they were widely available – they show that Exxon scientists were in no way certain on the science back then. In other words, InsideClimate and Columbia cherry picked the documents and left out any sections that didn’t fit their predetermined narrative.

And on that, you don’t need to take our word for it. Lots of legal experts and editorial boards have stepped up in recent weeks and months to declare these investigations an abuse of the office and of protected free-speech rights. The latest contribution to that discussion comes from Tristan Brown, a lawyer and assistant professor at State University of New York, who said in a Seeking Alpha piece today that Schneiderman’s change of tune on his investigation sets “yet another worrying precedent.” In fact, he notes, Schneiderman is actually harming the cause for action on climate change:

Climate change is occurring. Its effects will be overwhelmingly, if not uniformly, negative. The likeliest explanation is anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. I do not disagree with any of these facts. If Mr. Schneiderman’s previous climate change “fraud” rationale was dangerous to fossil and renewable energy investors alike, however, then the most recent rationale is even more so. Catastrophic climate change will only be prevented if renewable energy becomes a major part of the world’s overall energy portfolio. Such a result is less likely to occur if one of America’s largest states by energy consumption injects uncertainty into the market by twisting securities law in unprecedented ways.

These Rockefeller-funded organizations can continue to pat themselves on the back and whistle past the graveyard while the edifice of their campaign collapses all around them. But as Brown rightly puts it, in reality they’re just shooting themselves in the foot.

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