Remember in 2018, when the Washington Post hired Mark Lasswell from the Wall Street Journal to edit the opinion page? And we were concerned that maybe he’d bring climate denial along with him? Well yesterday the Washington Post published a third conservative columnists’ praise for Steven Koonin. Contributor Mich Daniels, president of Purdue University and barely not the worst recent Indiana governor, wrote that even if Koonin’s “contrarian views might be completely wrong,” the critical response to his (completely wrong) book is proof that it’s actually important.
By that logic, Daniels should be platforming people who tout horse deworming paste as a smarter choice than vaccines, or holocaust deniers, flat earthers, and any number of other people who need to be told loudly and frequently that they are wrong. But he’s not, because it’s not really about intellectual honesty and integrity in science. If it were, Daniels would be out there defending abortion access and LGBTQ equality — but he won't because it isn't. It’s about propaganda designed to undercut the need for climate policy.
But much like how the WSJ’s opinion page is several orders of stupid worse than its reporters, over at the news side of the Washington Post, new hire Maxine Joselow is proving her worth with a great interview with California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna confirming that at least most of the six fossil fuel executives invited to testify on climate disinformation intend to show up for the October 28th hearing!
Last month Rep. Khanna and the Oversight Committee chair Rep Carolyn Maloney sent letters to ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell, API and Chamber of Commerce leadership, but given how we know executives prefer to send “whipping boys” to testify in their place, expectations were low that they would show up unless compelled by subpoena.
Apparently just the threat was enough, as representatives of each group offered assurances to Joselow that they intend to show without being legally required by subpoena. While this is certainly encouraging, we couldn’t help but notice that none of them actually said they would be there, but instead offered carefully crafted replies that they intend to go.
Joselow described BP’s statement as that its President “plans to testify,” similar to the direct quote from the Chamber of Commerce’s spokesperson that its CEO Suzanne Clark “plans to participate in the hearing.”
API’s spokesperson reiterated that the organization “welcomes the opportunity to testify,” while Chevron said it “is committed to participating” and Joselow wrote that “Shell and Exxon confirmed via email they were cooperating with the investigation.”
Politico’s Ben LeFebvre got similarly evasive sort-of answers from Chevron and Exxon, who didn’t commit to sending anyone but instead said they are “working with committee staff on details” (Chevron) and “continue to communicate with committee staff” (Exxon). The Oversight committee told him, though, that they “expect each of the executives we invited to appear before our Committee and testify under oath.”
Maybe it’s just because we’re jaded by things like Chevron’s empty “aspirations” to be carbon neutral, but it sure seems like each one is saying just enough to avoid getting subpoenaed right now, only to slow walk the process and/or suddenly have a conflict when the big day comes. That way they won’t have to answer for their disinformation, and will have at least temporarily ducked a legally binding subpoena.
After all, the whole reason they’re being called to testify in the first place is their company’s history of deception and denial. For a nice refresher, the Climate Accountability Institute has a great website putting everything about the “Slippery Six” in one place, so you can easily see what each of these players has done to spread climate disinformation.
If even that seems like too much, there’s also a “Smoking Gun” page with all the decades-old documents laying out how they knew about their products climate impacts, and then lied about them.
They may well be telling the truth now though, and really are going to show up to explain to Congress, and the public, about how and why they lied to us for years.
But if we were Reps. Khanna and Maloney, we might start getting those subpoenas ready, just in case.