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May 08 2012

00:02

Heartland Institute’s Unapologetic Stance to Enormous PR Blunder Exposes – again – Lobby Organization’s Intellectual Dishonesty


The Great Heartland PR Blunder of 2012It is no surprise that the Heartland Institue would yet again engage in intellectual dishonesty and scare tactics in its ongoing attempt to confuse and manipulate populate opinion on climate change – they’ve been doing it for years. What has startled everyone this time, from supporters to critics like us, is the boneheaded blunder and pointless tastelessness of the short-lived Chicago-area billboard campaign from the anti-science lobby group Heartland Institute.

What began on Thursday morning ended on Thursday afternoon last week, in what Heartland president Jose Bast characterized as an “experiment,” as they prepare for their seventh annual climate change conference – a denial extravaganza featuring some of the foremost voices in anti-science and denialist rhetoric.

“I feel blindsided,” said Donna Laframboise of NoConsensus.org, a scheduled speaker for the conference until she cancelled in protest of the offensive Great Heartland PR Blunder of 2012.

“Suddenly, we were all publicly linked to an organization that thinks it’s okay to equate people concerned about climate change with psychopaths,” writes Lamframboise. “Forget disappointment. In my view, my reputation has been harmed. And the Heartland thinks it has nothing to apologize for?”

A scrolling collection of quotes on NoConsensus includes the very apt question “Should we believe whomever shouts the loudest?”

Heartland's bombast is comicalLamfromboise is just one of several sponsors and supporters that are considering or have already ended their relationship with the Heartland Institute. A Washington D.C.-based arm of the organization involved in insurance reform issues simply up and left, abandoning ship and closing up shop in the wake of reaction from insurance companies and other corporate supporters to the ad campaign.

What also shouldn’t surprise anyone is Bast’s unremitting defiance and refusal to apologize. He needn’t apologize to me. To critics like me that work to expose the Heartland Institute for what it is, such startlingly ill-advised publicity campaigns are a God-send. They do our work for us. Bast should apologize to his supporters, without whom Heartland can claim any credibility to anyone.

Anthony Watts, publisher of the leading climate denial website WattsUpWithThat, claimed that the gaffe is a result of “battle fatigue.”

If that is the case, it is from a battle of the Heartland Institute’s own making.

Additional source:
ClimateWire (subscription required)

Do you want to be associated with this guy?

March 14 2012

16:02

Heartland Double Standard: Institute Tried to Scam Greenpeace for Internal Documents

A Heartland Institute front man* phoned a Greenpeace activist and lied about his identity in an effort to get her to turn over UN climate conference documents to which he had no legitimate access. Heartland senior fellow James Taylor then boasted about the scam in a press release decrying what he described as Greenpeace's preferential access to UN information.

Now, in a belated act of optimism, Greenpeace's Cindy Baxter has written a letter to Heartland (attached below) requesting an explanation for the double standard. Baxter is asking, in effect, why Heartland thinks it's completely okay for them to misrepresent themselves, repeatedly, and to celebrate the misrepresentations of others who are attacking climate scientists, but then gets all righteous when someone suckers them into handing over their entire budget and fundraising policy for 2012.

The Heartland misrepresentation about which Baxter is now complaining occurred in 2007 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali. The Heartland caller phoned Baxter at four in the morning (Bali time), claiming to represent a U.S. environmental organization and asking if she would hand over the UNFCCC media list - which Heartland clearly had failed to secure through legitimate means.

Baxter demurred, after which Taylor sent out a press release, recounting the conversation, linking to a (possibly illegal) recording that Heartland had made of the phonecall, and "exposing" the fact that Greenpeace has a better working relationship than Heartland with just about everyone in the climate, diplomatic and scientific communities.

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March 08 2012

17:57

Heartland has Long History of Blowing Smoke

One of the most bizarre reactions to the St. Valetines Day Striptease, in which the Heartland Institute was tempted by a mild-mnannered scientist to completely expose itself - its strategies, funders and plans for the new year - is the complaint by "neutral" observers like Judith Curry that people were somehow picking on Heartland unfairly.

Even aside from the reams of evidence in the Striptease documents, Heartland has a long history of mining money from questionable corporate funders and then representing itself as a (taxpayer subsidized) "think tank" - as if its some kind of educational organization contributing to the public conversation about difficult issues.

The document - and Heartland's own self-celebrating promotional efforts - make absolutely clear that Heartland is a lobbyist, and given that its favourite client through the years has been the tobacco industry, we know for sure it's a lobbyist with no particular standards.

Here, as evidence toward that point, is a wonderful wrap, by the blog Planet 3.0/Beyond Sustainability of Heartland's history of blowing smoke on behalf of funders Philip Morris, et al.

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February 23 2012

21:56

At Heartland's law firm: "Carbon Matters"

Levenfeld Pearlstein, the law firm that has stepped up to pass on complaints about the publication of leaked Heartland Institute documents, appears to be one of the greenest in Chicago. For example, James Brusslan, head of the Environmental Services Group at Levenfeld Pearlstein, says companies should act now to prevent climate change because:

The IPCC has determined with virtual certainty that humans are the cause of significant global warming due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide and methane. Many scientists believe if we do not take action quickly, the impact could be catastrophic.

It would be interesting to know how Brussland gets along with Michael Padden, son of the Heartland Institute's founder David Padden and author of the most recent letter asking the DeSmogBlog to take down the document that describes, accurately and succinctly, Heartland's Climate Strategy for 2012.

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February 19 2012

22:34

Heartland Demands DeSmogBlog Remove ''Climate Strategy" Document

DeSmogBlog will leave them in place - in the public interest

Heartland Institute general counsel Maureen Martin has sent letters to the DeSmogBlog and several other publications demanding that we remove all Heartland-related documents that we posted on February 14, as well as all related commentary.

After due consideration, we could see no basis in fact or law for Heartland's demand that we remove these documents.

The Heartland letter is reproduced in full below with our observations.

Re:      Stolen and Faked Heartland Documents

http://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-insider-exposes-institute-s-budget-and-strategy

Dear Mr. DeMelle:

On or about February 14, 2012, your web site posted a document entitled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy” (the “Fake Memo”), which is fabricated and false.

On or about the same date, your web site posted certain other documents purporting to be those of The Heartland Institute (“Heartland”). Heartland has not authenticated these documents (the “Alleged Heartland Documents”).

Your site thereafter has reported repeatedly on all of these documents.

Heartland almost immediately issued a statement disclosing the foregoing information, to which your web site has posted links.

DeSmogBlog: As soon as we learned that Heartland claimed the Climate Strategy document was "fake," we posted a story, informing our readers and linking to Heartland's claim.

It has come to our attention that all of these documents nevertheless remain on your site and you continue to report on their contents. Please be advised as follows:

1.         The Fake Memo document is just that: fake. It was not written by anyone associated with Heartland. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. Publication of this falsified document is improper and unlawful.

DeSmogBlog: Heartland has never identified the alleged "obvious and gross misstatements" in the "climate strategy" document. We have not identified any. Neither does Heartland specify anything "unlawful" about publication of the "climate strategy" document.

2.         As to the Alleged Heartland Documents your web site posted, we are investigating how they came to be in your possession and whether they are authentic or have been altered or fabricated. Though third parties purport to have authenticated them, no one – other than Heartland – has the ability to do so. Several of the documents say on their face that they are confidential documents and all of them were taken from Heartland by improper and fraudulent means. Publication of any and all confidential or altered documents is improper and unlawful.

DeSmogBlog: Since Heartland does not know whether the "other documents" are fabricated, altered or authentic, we are at a loss to understand how Heartland is in any position to allege that the documents posted on DeSmogBlog were obtained by "improper or fraudulent means."

3.         Furthermore, Heartland views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs about them, as providing the basis for civil actions against those who obtained and/or disseminated them and blogged about them. Heartland fully intends to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law.

Desmogblog: Again, since Heartland does not know whether the "other documents" are fabricated, altered or authentic, we are at a loss to understand how Heartland can allege that the documents were obtained or disseminated "in a malicious or fraudulent manner."

Therefore, we respectfully demand: (1) that you remove both the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents from your web site; (2) that you remove from your web site all posts that refer or relate in any manner to the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; (3) that you remove from your web site any and all quotations from the Fake Memo and the Alleged Heartland Documents; (4) that you publish retractions on your web site of prior postings; and (5) that you remove all such documents from your server.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.

Very truly yours,

Maureen Martin

General Counsel

 

We look forward to learning the results of Heartland's investigation concerning the documents mentioned in their letter of February 18 and would encourage Heartland to include the "Climate Strategy" document within the scope of that investigation.

 

 

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February 17 2012

04:23

It’s a bird; it’s a hockey stick; it’s a faked document!

 

Heartland response would be a useful PR tactic

The Climate Strategy that was emailed to the DeSmogBlog with a package of material from the Heartland Institute’s Jan. 17 Board of Directors meeting is serving as an excellent distraction from the legitimate issues raised in the other documents and reinforced by the excellent research paper by DeSmogBlog contributor John Mashey.

The DeSmogBlog has no evidence supporting Heartland's claim that the Strategic document is fake. A close review of the content shows that it is overwhelmingly accurate (“almost too accurate” for one analyst), and while critics have said that it is “too short” or is distinguished by “an overuse of commas,” even the skeptics at weatherguy Anthony Watts’s WUWT say that a technical analysis of the metadata on the documents in question does not offer sufficient information to come to a firm conclusion either way.

But in the tradition of the famous, and famously controversial “hockey stick graph,” the challenge to the single document has afforded the DeSmogBlog’s critics – and Heartland’s supporters – something comfortable to obsess about while they avoid answering questions raised by the other documents.

In the case of the hockey stick, people such as Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit have led a chorus of criticism for years, alleging that a supposed statistical flaw in Michael Mann’s excellent and prescient work should be sufficient justification to dismiss not only Mann’s original graph, but all of climate science. This, notwithstanding the fact that dozens of other climate reconstructions have validated Mann’s conclusions and replicated the hockey stick shape of his graph. Thus, the hockey stick has been a convenient weapon for those (like Joe Bast, President of the Heartland Institute) who would like to take people’s attention from the legitimate science of climate change.

Now, we have a case where Bast admits that some dope on his staff emailed Heartland's whole board package to a stranger. Yet rather than praising the opportunity that this provides for independent observers to judge the performance of a taxpayer-subsidized body (Heartland is a registered charity), as Bast did when someone stole the so-called ClimateGate emails from leading scientists such as Mike Mann, the Heartland boss has attacked the veracity of the Climate Strategy and used that to attempt to dismiss the legitimacy of the other material (Heartland Institute Responds to Stolen and Fake Documents).

The deniergang echo chamber has since jumped on that chorus, with sites like Marc Morano’s Climate Depot, Steve Milloy’s Junkscience, and Anthony Watts at WUWT all sputtering in outrage, even as Watts confirmed that, well, the information in the document pertaining to him was, but for a rounding error, almost too accurate.

The DeSmogBlog is committed to accuracy. Joe Bast says the document is a fake, a statement we take with a grain of salt given the Heartland Institute’s previous dissembling on the subject of climate change and its discredited position on teh safety of second hand smoke.  In the circumstances, if the Heartland Institute can offer any specific criticism of the Climate Strategy or any evidence that it was faked and not, actually, written on Joe Bast’s laptop, printed out and scanned, we would be pleased to consider that evidence.

In the meantime, how about everybody take a moment to look away from the shiny penny in the magician's left hand and concentrate instead on the 100+ pages of damning evidence falling out of his right sleeve.

 

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February 15 2012

20:41

Heartland Confirms that it Mistakenly Emailed Internal Documents

The Heartland Institute has confirmed in a prepared statement that it mistakenly emailed its board materials to an anonymous third party - confirming the source of the documents released here on the DeSmogBlog yesterday.

Heartland then goes on allege that one of the documents (the Climate Strategy) is a fake.

The DeSmogBlog has reviewed that Strategy document and compared its content to other material we have in hand. It addresses five elements:

The Increased Climate Project Fundraising material is reproduced in and confirmed by Heartland's own budget.

The "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" is also a Heartland budget item and has been confirmed independently by the author, Dr. David Wojick.

The Funding for Parallel Organizations; Funding for Selected Individuals Outside Heartland are both reproduced and confirmed in the Heartland budget. And Anthony Watts has confirmed independently the payments in Expanded Climate Communications.

The DeSmogBlog has received no direct communications from the Heartland Institute identifying any misstatement of fact in the "Climate Strategy" document and is therefore leaving the material available to those who may judge their content and veracity based on these and other sources.

 

 

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