Memo to: the Koch PR team
Re: over-zealous PR unlikely to help your clients
Dear Koch PR team
It's good to know who you are now – thanks to a story over at Politico. But perhaps we can offer you a little bit of advice?
We note that you’ve been getting to work on your new Koch account, placing stories in the New York Times about funding cancer research and the like. (Good distraction tactics!).
We also note how active you’ve been on the Koch Industries, Inc Facebook page
We understand that the brief from the Kochs is to fight back against the terribly bad name they’ve been getting over the last year.
And while we know the Koch brothers fund the deniers (as documented in this Greenpeace report), we also know that they’ve made you go to great lengths to distance them from any involvement. Major fail for you then when Wikipedia found out that your web guys, New Media Strategies, had created sock puppets to edit out the links and banned them from the site. Ouch!
But did you take another step too far last week? A new post appeared on Koch Industries’ facebook page on 19 March saying:
“A Berkley scientist explains how activist scientists managed to "hide the decline" in recent global temperatures. "You're not allowed to do this in science," Richard Muller explains.”
ClimateProgress has unearthed what Muller is up to – he’s co-chairing the rather prestigious-sounding “Berkely Earth Surface Temperature Study” – another recipient of Koch Funding.
Seems the whole project is a ruse to challenge Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick findings from the early 1990’s – a challenge raised by the so-called "climategate" scandal. As Think Progress points out:
"why would Berkeley want to be associated with the Kochs?"
And why investigate the Hockey stick findings, which have been backed up by at least five other studies? The deniers have focussed on the Hockey Stick argument (that shows global temperatures spiking upward, like a hockey stick) as their benchmark for whether global warming is happening and whether it’s caused by human activities. But this is despite strong signals from different areas of science that all point in the same direction.
That’s the same Richard Muller who has, as Climate Progress points out:
"has actually worked to undermine credibility in well-established science.”
(Latest: Climate Progress has now discovered that the Berkley project is not turning out the way Muller and the Koch’s want it to go – turns out that their preliminary results show that the temperature records are dead right. Oops! Findings are summarised:
“We are seeing substantial global warming” and “None of the effects raised by the [skeptics] is going to have anything more than a marginal effect on the amount of global warming.”
The presence of Muller and climate-scientist-turned-denialist Judith Curry is bad enough.
But Haywood? Do you not know who this guy is? If ever there was a Koch-funded climate denial mouthpiece, it’s Steven F Haywood. He’s a fellow at four of the Kochtopus-funded think tanks. They’ve all had quite a bit of funding from your clients 1986-2009:
Reason Foundation ($2,536,521),
Heritage Foundation ($4,110,571),
Pacific Research Foundation ($1,515,800) and
American Enterprise Institute (only $150,000 from Koch but Exxon gave them $2.8 million).
So the total Koch money to Hayward’s groups is $8,312,892. Add Exxon’s $4,341,000 and that adds up to a massive $12.65 million of denial punch.
No wonder you guys were excited about linking to his piece. But was it wise? Does Koch really want to be openly associating itself with Hayward and Muller – and “climategate?” This is the first time we’ve seen such an open association by Koch to undermining the climate science. Very useful for us – but doesn’t this rather undermine the Koch’s ongoing denial that they are linked with these climate deniers?
And finally, while we’re discussing your Facebook page, another word of advice: if you’re going to promote stories that you’ve managed to place in blogs, perhaps drip them out slowly?
During the Wisconsin protests, Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group led the tea party in support of Scott Walker and Koch became a lightning rod for protestors. (Bet that got you going).
Nice work lining up all the bloggers to support Koch - but posting them all in one day on Facebook? Six posts in just a few hours? 4th March was a busy day for you. But seriously, if you’re going to go on the offense, maybe make it a little less obvious?
We know you must be paid an awful lot by this client – are they really getting their money’s worth? Or did you leave your Facebook promotion up to New Media Strategies?
Similar to Rolling Stone's "The Climate Killers" article that was released at the beginning of the year, AlterNet has just profiled some of the most influential political, financial and popular enemies of the Earth's increasingly disrupted climate.
Snide comments aside, both reports nail some of the most influential staples: Koch Industries, an infamous engine of the climate denial machine; Warren Buffet, the filthy-rich investor who has placed his bets on coal; and Joe Barton, Big Fossil's purchased U.S. Representative (over 1.7 million dirty dollars over the last decade).
AlterNet's newer spotlight identifies Harold Lewis and Freeman Dyson, who are similar to the likes of S. Fred Singer and Patrick Michaels in their use of scientific credentials for corporate public relations rather than, say, active climate studies...or scientific study in general. Also like Singer and Michaels, they have ties to prominent denier think tanks such as Cato, the Heartland Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, all of which are currently or formerly funded by Koch Industries and ExxonMobil. Similarly, AlterNet mentions Anthony Watts, whose skeptic blog is the go-to hub for climate-solutions obstructionism, and whose credentials as a TV weatherman (not certified by the American Meteorological Society) fool people into thinking he's a climate expert. Like the other junk scientists mentioned in the article, Watts has ties to the Heartland Institute.
In a contrasting look at university integrity, AlterNet also profiles Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's attorney general who has used the "climategate" nonscandal as grounds to continue harassing Michael Mann, the influential University of Virginia climatologist whose university research was a primary target of the hacked East Anglia emails. While Mann was defended by his university and cleared of wrongdoing after investigations, the same can't be said for George Mason University's Edward Wegman. AlterNet points out that Wegman is currently under formal investigation his George Mason for pushing bogus climate material for none other than Texas Rep. Joe Barton.
It is worth noting that George Mason University (GMU) is a known breeding ground for climate deniers and heavily supported by the Koch brothers; both the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) operate out of the University have received millions of dollars from the Kochs. There's also Koch Industries executive Richard Fink, who taught and filled various other positions at GMU, co-founded and directs GMU's Mercatus Center, directs the Institute for Humane Studies, is the president of two Koch family foundations that fund these groups, founded the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation (which became the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, of which Fink is a director)...Rich Fink pretty much lives up to his name.
Glenn Beck (who attended Charles Koch's secret election strategy meeting last June), Mitch McConnell, former BP CEO Tony Hayward, Peabody CEO Gregory Boyce, and others are also credited for their dirty work in the full article.