In response to the 19 Congressional climate hawks deciding that it is #TimetoCallOut the fossil fuel industry for its use of tobacco and lead-industry PR tactics, the #WebofDenial proves its efficacy even while trying to dispute their very existence. For example, the Koch-operative-created Washington Free Beacon’s initial coverage of an email outlining which speakers called out what groups was quickly echoed at the Koch-partnered website, The Daily Caller. That story also features quotes from an ALEC spokeswoman making the free speech defense- a common thread in the #WebofDenial. (One that Sen. Whitehouse called out last week.)
These references to criminalizing dissent can be found alongside the “assault on free speech” language in a piece in Reason, a publication, of course, funded by ExxonMobil, the tobacco industry and the Kochs (and David Koch even sits on its board.) The same phrasing featured prominently in an opinion piece in US News and World Report. This piece defends the web’s denial activities as being well within the right “to propagate an opinion running counter to the political interests of the powerful.” We didn’t recognize the author at first and were surprised that someone who hasn’t taken money from fossil fuels was defending the #WebofDenial, and in a mainstream outlet to boot! But lo and behold, the author’s byline states that in addition to being a contributing editor at US News, Peter Roff is also a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom- an Exxon funded operation. And to illustrate how the web works in real time, Roff’s piece was tweeted out by the Koch, tobacco and Exxon-funded Heartland Institute.
A slightly different tact was taken by Koch and tobacco-funded CEI, who accused Sen. Whitehouse of “McCarthy-style Tactics.” They were apparently unaware of the deliciously ironic fact that it is Lamar Smith, the Senator defending Exxon and CEI, who is quite literally and intentionally embracing McCarthy. Continuing with that line of thought, over at Breitbart (the “Go-To Outlet” for hired deniers), James Delingpole claims that McCarthy “was absolutely right” because “America really was riddled with Communist agents.” Delingpole though, sees “no evidence whatsoever” of a denier conspiracy.
But evidence of the #WebofDenial is obvious, and there is more proof every day. For example, the Republican National Committee has just adopted language in its platform that comes straight from the coal lobby. Literally the same words, just in a slightly different order.
Rebecca Leber at Grist writes about how the RNC platform calls coal “an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.” The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, refers to its product as “an affordable, abundant and increasingly clean domestic energy resource that is vital to providing reliable low-cost electricity.” Since coal is responsible for thousands of deaths annually and $500 billion in related health costs, calling it clean is is yet another example of how propaganda works.
With the GOP picking up the exact language of the fossil fuel lobby, it’s no wonder other fossil fuel operatives are simultaneously speaking up to defend the #WebofDenial’s right to “propagate an opinion.” But when your opinion is wrong, on purpose, solely to protect profits, then it’s no longer just an opinion. It’s fraud. And considering how many of the climate-denying organizations were also tobacco-defending organizations, you’d think they’d have learned that by now. Then again, this same playbook was also used by the lead industry, and memory loss is a symptom of lead poisoning...
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