Greta Thunberg may not be traveling the world at this point, but she’s still driving deniers insane. She made an appearance (over video, of course) at the Oscars and has a forthcoming BBC docu-series. Not to worry though – deniers have a plan to counter her influence, beyond their current approach of raging misogyny.
Remember late last year, when we mentioned the surprise appearance of a young woman at Heartland’s international denial conference? In the 18 year old, far-right German YouTuber Naomi Seibt, we suggested that Heartland had “found its anti-Greta.”
Welp, we were right!
Two reporters from the German media outlets CORRECTIV and Frontal21 were undercover at the conference, posing as PR professionals representing the automotive and energy industry who were interested in funding Heartland. The resulting story (in German, Google translated version here, video version in German here) shows that when enticed with a potential pot of money, Heartland’s James Taylor was all too eager to funnel corporate money into promoting Seibt.
Though the piece reads like a spy-thriller, it’s not without its moments of levity. When one Heartland attendee shows the reporters the hidden pen camera she planned to use to secretly record the UN climate conference, turns out it’s the same exact model, “even in the same color,” as the pen camera the journalists used for the story!
On the serious side , when the undercover reporters discussed funneling industry money to Heartland without disclosing its source, James Taylor was happy to inform them that Donors Trust and the National Philanthropic Trust would be able to shield them from transparency. Additionally, he told them that some two-thirds to three-quarters of Heartland’s budget comes from denial-driven-donations.
Taylor also suggested that they wanted to “get [Seibt] on board” with Heartland, and that “she should make videos for us. For the young people.”
When pressed, one of the reporters asked if his client would be able to direct Seibt’s videos, to which “Taylor hesitates, but he doesn’t say no” and when the journalist suggests they “could agree on certain buzzwords” and “place certain information,” Taylor responded with “Absolutely. Key points, keywords, the way to present something.”
Taylor then sent a written proposal outlining exactly how Heartland would use the secretly-donated energy and auto-industry money to fund Seibt’s videos, and supplement them with their own “experts.”
After the article was published Heartland-via-Seibt scrambled to do damage control: she appeared on a sympathetic segment in SkyNews where Seibt complained about being called a denier, starred in a new video on YouTube from Seibt (posted to WUWT) featuring Heartland’s logo at the start, and the news that she’s now a member of Heartland. In the video (in German but subtitled) she attempts to push back on the reporting, asserting that she’s not actually part of a fossil-fuel funded conspiracy and not Heartland’s puppet, despite the fact that both the video and documents clearly show Heartland is already using her as a fundraising tool to get polluters’ “key points” to the youth.
Seibt encourages people to ask her questions and she’ll happily answer, like how much money she gets from Heartland, but then says that she refused to answer those questions from the undercover journalist because they asked after secretly filming the event.
So here’s some free advice for Seibt: Either promise to answer questions about funding, or make up excuses as to why you won’t. Don’t do both, at the same time.
Oh, and whether you like it or not, Heartland is already using you to try and raise money from polluters, as this undercover investigation makes undeniably clear to anyone who hasn’t earned the “denier” moniker.
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