Joseph Bast

Mon, 2012-04-30 06:30Guest
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Heartland Institute Attacks Forecast the Facts, Denies Its Climate Change Denial

This is a guest post by Daniel Souweine, Campaign Director, Forecast The Facts

On April 24, Heartland Institute President Joe Bast issued an angry missive attacking Forecast the Facts, a new campaign that successfully petitioned automobile giant General Motors to end their financial support of Heartland earlier this month. In a 2,000-word screed, Bast defended his organization's efforts to disseminate anti-science propaganda to public classrooms and the general public, while making a number of wildly inaccurate claims about our group.

While much of what Bast wrote does not warrant a reply, we felt it important to address the most pernicious falsehoods, and also to remind Heartland's corporate donors exactly why support for the organization is so untenable (although Bast does an excellent job of that himself). 

The saddest and most offensive attack on Forecast the Facts is the Heartland president's suggestion that the more than 20,000 signatories of our successful petition to General Motors may not even exist, calling the petition a “fraud.” We stand by the validity of our petition one hundred percent. But even more so, we proudly affirm the existence of our members and their commitment to fighting climate change denial. The signers of the petition are real people with valid email accounts and sincere concerns that major corporations continue to support Heartland's climate change denial. (You can see some of their powerful comments here).

While Bast directs his venom at the everyday Americans who comprise the Forecast the Facts campaign, it's clear that his primary intent is to soothe the concerns of his corporate donors, many of whom are now reconsidering their support of his organization. If anything, his rant lays bare just how disreputable Bast is.

In a truly Orwellian turn, Bast vehemently denies Heartland Institute's climate change denial. (As a reminder for those less familiar with Bast, his primary focus before becoming a leader in the climate change denial movement was to question the links between smoking and lung cancer at the behest of Philip Morris, which remains a Heartland backer.) 

Tue, 2012-03-20 22:33Jim Hoggan
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SPINalysis: Heartland’s Echo Chamber Shifts the Target

President Joe Bast Dodges Responsibility – for Now

It’s been a month since the Heartland Institute was caught in a St. Valentine’s Day Striptease – inadvertently exposing its entire budget and fundraising plan. Yet an objective analysis of the resulting internet and mainstream media coverage has to credit Heartland’s spin machine with having put in a remarkable performance. Heartland’s own staff members and its echo chamber of denialist blogs have been shameless – and stunningly successful – in deflecting responsibility from the institute’s own sins and onto the scientist who duped Heartland into handing over a treasure trove of internal documents.

There are three potential explanations for this turn of events:

  1. The Heartland posse is unbothered by any tendency to let the facts get in the way of their story;
  2. They have access to and support from a fierce and disciplined echo chamber, at least part of which Heartland actually funds on the side; and
  3. Mainstream media give Heartland a free pass. That is, reporters have become so cynical about the “think tank” campaign to deny the science of climate change that they no longer treat it as news. But those same reporters still respond in outrage if a scientist is perceived to have done something dishonest or deceptive.
Thu, 2012-03-01 11:36Steve Horn
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Heartland Institute: A Manifestation of the Kochtopus Empire

It is nearly impossible to discuss the vast climate change denial echo chamber and not mention the Koch BrothersKoch Industries, and what some have called the Koch Empire.

Perhaps unsurpisingly then, the origins of the Heartland Institute – whose internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog – have a direct historical link to the rise of the Kochtopus's wide-reaching climate change denial machine.

It all began in 1977 in Wichita, Kansas, with the creation of the Cato Institute.

David Padden, Cato Institute, and the Rise of Heartland

The Cato Institute was founded in 1977 and originally funded by Charles Koch, of Koch Industries fame and fortune.

It is known today for its libertarian policy stances on issues like the War on Drugsanti-interventionist foreign policy, and support for civil liberties, and perhaps most notoriously for its climate change denial and pro-polluter stance in energy policy debates. Cato's most infamous talking head today is Pat Michaels, who serves as its “Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies.”

One of the key original members of Cato's Board of Directors was David Padden, a Chicago, IL-based investment banker and then owner of Padden & Company, which now also has a spinoff called Padco Lease Corporation. Padden passed away in October 2011.

In 1984, piggybacking off of his role at Cato, Padden founded the Heartland Institute, also serving on its original Board of Directors.

Mon, 2012-02-20 21:22Richard Littlemore
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Whistleblower Authenticates Heartland Documents

Climate scientist Peter Gleick has acknowledged that he was the person who convinced the Heartland Institute to hand over the contents of its January Board package, authenticating the documents beyond a doubt and further exposing the disinformation campaign Heartland has pursued in the last week, trying to discredit the information.

In the Huffington Post tonight, Gleick reported that he had received the controversial Climate Strategy document from an anonymous source earlier this year and said that he attempted to confirm whether the contents were true. Gleick went on:

In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else's name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication. [emphasis added]

So, while admitting that he impersonated a third party in order to induce Heartland to confirm its own ongoing questionable conduct, Gleick has effectively caught Heartland squarely in the headlights, proving that the Institute has dissembled and lied.

Whistleblowers - and that's the role Gleick has played in this instance - deserve respect for having the courage to make important truths known to the public at large. Without condoning or promoting an act of dishonesty, it's fair to say that Gleick took a significant personal risk - and by standing and taking responsibility for his actions, he has shown himself willing to pay the price. For his courage, his honor, and for performing a selfless act of public service, he deserves our gratitude and applause.

Heartland, in the meantime, deserves to be stripped of its charitable status and laughed out of the professional “think tank” fraternity for its amateurishness and the far-less-than-credible position that it has taken in the last week, denying its own responsibility in this “leak,” dissembling about the origin of the material and going out of its way to “fail” to authenticate documents that it knew all along were legitimate.

The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute

 Background

The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based free market think tank and 501(c)(3) charity that has been at the forefront of denying the scientific evidence for man-made climate change. The Heartland Institute has received at least $676,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998 but no longer discloses its funding sources.

Thu, 2011-06-30 11:12Michael Fisher
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Denial-a-Palooza: Where Are All the Scientists That Deniers Love To Talk About?

Where are all the scientists?

Wake up and smell the fossil fuel funding. That’s right, it’s that time of year again: the Heartland Institute is hosting its Sixth (annual?*) International Conference on Climate Change over the next two days in Washington D.C.

DeSmogBlog already revealed some of the oily sponsors behind the event. Now it’s time to take a look at the so-called scientists Heartland has rounded up to accomplish this year’s theme of “Restoring the Scientific Method.”   

Wed, 2011-02-09 16:13Richard Littlemore
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"ArticGate" - When is a Mistake a Lie?

What did Harrison Schmitt Know? And When?

In the ongoing controversy over whether former astronaut and New Mexico Senator Harrison Schmitt intentionally misled NASA with his 2009 white paper on climate change, we come to the age old questions: What did Schmitt know? And when did he know it?

Schmitt says in that paper that “Artic (sic) sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.” When Dr. Mark Boslough, a physicist and computational modeler at Sandia National Laboratories brought to Schmitt’s attention that this was incorrect, Schmitt failed to correct it. Well, not everyone likes to admit making a mistake.

But was it a mistake?

Mon, 2011-02-07 08:24Richard Littlemore
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"ArticGate" - Heartland Backs Schmitt in Climate Misinformation

Incompetent or Dishonest - Either Way They’re Wrong

The former astronaut and proud climate change denier Harrison Schmitt is not alone in making the false claim that “Artic [sic] sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage.” He has been bolstered  by the smokey hacks at the Heartland Institute, and especially by the brittle letter writer and Heartland head honcho, Joseph Bast.

If Schmitt’s false statement had stood on its own (or if he had moved to correct it when it was pointed out), you could reasonably have dismissed it as an error made in good faith.  But when Bast stooped to the flagrant manipulation necessary to argue that Schmitt’s assertion could have some basis in fact, well, you have to wonder - especially when there is already an established relationship between Schmitt and Heartland (check the name on the podium in the Schmitt denier video).

It’s awkward always to trace climate denial back to the money trail. Some people - maybe even Schmitt - deny climate science out of ideological blindness, not greedy self-interest. But it’s interesting that Heartland’s two favourite projects are denying the science of climate change and arguing that tobacco is really not all that bad for you. It’s relevant, too, that before they started hiding their funding sources, Heartland used to acknowledge the generous support of the tobacco and oil industries in propping up the “think” tank’s operations.

Wed, 2009-06-17 01:49Mitchell Anderson
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Three Full-Page Whoppers from the Heartland Institute (Part Two)

The Heartland Institute has reared its hoary head again, this time fronting three full-page color ads in the Washington Post targeting lawmakers now debating the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) on Capitol Hill.

As I mentioned in my last post, it is not often the denial machine resorts to something as clumsy as buying media exposure. This indicates just how desperate their oily funders are to avoid meaningful regulation of filthy fuels.

That they have managed to dodge this bullet for so long, illustrates just how brilliant Big Oil has been at precluding pesky laws for their dangerous product.

I promised in my last post to pull apart some of the knee-slappers and nose-stretchers in these full-page propaganda pieces and I will try not to disappoint. There is plenty to work with…

Tue, 2009-06-16 18:32Mitchell Anderson
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Three Full-Page Whoppers from the Heartland Institute (Part One)

You can often judge progress by the reaction of those opposed to it. If that’s true, we may finally be getting somewhere.

The notoriously unethical Heartland Institute is blowing a bundle of cash in an all-out effort to derail climate change legislation moving through Congress. The Heartland folks have never been overly encumbered by either ethics or accuracy and their latest effort is no exception.

Heartland is fronting three full-page ads in the Washington Post, transparently targeted at lawmakers now horse-trading over the draft American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).

So what does that kind of action cost? According the Washington Post website, close to $250,000. But that is pocket change for Big Oil and Big Coal, who stand to lose big if US climate policy moves into the 21st century.

The ads deadpan three hilariously audacious whoppers:

I’ll deal with the content of the full-page propaganda effort in a separate post but the first thing to note is the desperation of the tactics.

These are sophisticated players and such ham-handed lobbying techniques are typically a last resort in the public relations toolkit. This latest move illustrates just how isolated vested oil and coal interests have become in the climate change debate.

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