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:
- The Heartland posse is unbothered by any tendency to let the facts get in the way of their story;
- 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
- 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.