Heartland's Joe Bast lashes out at Institute's own "friends"

The somewhat hysterical Heartland Institute President Joe Bast has lashed out at the lengthening list of “friends” who are trying to distance themselves from the institute's increasingly embarrassing anti-science antics.

In a letter to one of the “scholars” who have asked to be removed from the list of “Heartland experts” (BigCityLiberal is keeping a good headcount here), Bast complains that his institute has always tried to stay “above the fray,” and it's now being victimized “by ideological extremists as part of the ongoing attack on us and our donors.”

In that light, Bast scolds his former supporter:

So John, I’m disappointed that you would side with folks who would use such tactics. if you want to stand up for truth seeking and honesty, for taking an unpopular stand against prevailing wisdom, then you should be speaking up for me and The Heartland Institute, not abandoning us in this moment of need.

But what tactics? Heartland started all this with a billboard campaign advocating a message that “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants and madmen.” The single billboard that actually featured in the campaign showed a picture of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, with a sign saying, “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”

Bast now says of that image: “We took it down immediately and admitted that it was in poor taste and a mistake ….”

Well, here the “truth seeking and honesty” seems to crash and burn. Heartland took the ad down, sure enough, but when Bast announced the billboard's demise, he said:

“We do not apologize for running the ad, and we will continue to experiment with ways to communicate the ‘realist’ message on the climate.”

No hint of an apology or any acknowledgment the billboard was an error.

Even now, Bast says,

“Our billboard was factual: The Unabomber was motivated by concern over man-made global warming to do the terrible crimes he committed.”

Neither true nor honest. Kaczynski's whacky manifesto contains nary a single reference to either “global warming” or “climate change.”

Bast is deleriously boastful in setting out the purported goodwill of his organization:

“Almost alone among think tanks, we focus on communicating with people who do not already agree with us. We rely on research and reason, not rhetoric and emotion ….”

Then he condemns those of us who might credit Mike Mann, one of the most heavily scrutinized scientists in the climate community, and Bill McKibben, one of the clearest - sanest - voices in the environmental debate. Bast says that we, “continue to promote madmen on the other side of the issue including Michael Mann and Bill McKibben, and hypocritically pound on us for our 'ethical lapse'.”

Ethical lapse? This is an organization that has been promoting tobacco for a quarter of a century. At no point did we mean to imply that Heartland had, with these billboards, fallen off the path of righteousness. Rather, this most hateful campaign seems merely to reveal the organization for what it has always been.


Here’s a link tweeted by David Roberts of Grist, where a parody of the sign was rejected for criticizing a corporation, even one that is funding Heartland Institute:


Wow– lashing out at anyone and everyone.  This is a magnificent  disintegration– something like Zaphod Beeblebrox (but without the charm): “you go to pieces so fast, people get hit by the shrapnel”–and so well-deserved. 

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