Quantcast

Exxon Targets Journalists Who Exposed Massive Climate Cover Up

Climate

ExxonMobil has launched a full-throttled "bully" campaign against the graduate students who recently unmasked its scandalous climate change cover-up threatening to pull funds from the university that helped bring to light its dangerous and "most consequential" lies.

In a letter addressed to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and obtained by Politico, the oil giant's vice president of Public and Government Affairs accuses a team of investigative journalism students of violating the school's research policy by "suppressing" or "manipulating" information to produce "deliberately misleading reports" about ExxonMobil's climate change research.

U.S. Senator and White House hopeful Bernie Sanders on Tuesday slammed Exxon on social media, writing: "It's absurd that massive corporations can legally intimidate journalists who dare question them." Photo credit: Minale Tattersfield / Flickr

"The reports, produced by a team headed by Susanne Rust, an instructor at the Columbia Journalism School, cherry-picked—and distorted—statements attributed to various company employees to wrongly suggest definitive conclusions about the risk of climate change were reached decades ago by company researchers," wrote Exxon's Kenneth Cohen in the letter, dated Nov. 20.

The lengthy letter then proceeds to dissect the allegedly "false narrative" that "ExxonMobil 'knew' the risks of climate change in the 1980s, chose to ignore or suppress that knowledge, stopped or curtailed ongoing climate research and shifted to a policy of funding climate change denial."

Those findings—which were published early October in the Los Angeles Times, mirroring a separate but similar investigation by Inside Climate News—have set off a storm of outrage over what "Exxon knew." The New York Attorney General has even launched a formal inquiry as a result of the allegations.

In the letter, Cohen concludes with a request for an opportunity to discuss "at far greater length our grievances and the possible remedies available to us." He signs off with what one reporter describes as "something that looks mighty like a veiled threat to revoke funding from the university."

Cohen writes: "ExxonMobil has had numerous and productive relationships with Columbia University for many years, whether through research programs, interactions with the business school or recruiting of graduates for employment with our company. The interactions detailed above are not typical of the high standards and ethical behavior we have come to expect from your institution."

According to Politico's Elana Schor and Hadas Gold, who published the letter Monday, "Through its foundation, Exxon gave $219,229 to Columbia in 2014 as part of a matching gift program for educational institutions, as well as $9,000 in direct grants. The company also gave $25,000 last year to the markets program at the university's Center on Global Energy Policy."

Press freedom advocates, environmentalists and even presidential contenders were swift in their condemnation of Exxon following the release of the letter.

"Exxon’s outrageous move to intimidate journalists and academics from doing their jobs is more of the same from a company that has been bullying the public and our elected officials for decades," David Turnbull, campaigns director for Oil Change International, told Common Dreams.

"We’ve often wondered if Exxon actually hates our children because they so consistently stand in the way of safeguarding their future; it turns out they apparently hate good journalism as well," Turnbull adds. "What’s worse is that our government is still handing billions of dollars each year to the oil industry by way of subsidies. This is an industry that is out of control, wreaking havoc on our climate and public discourse and it’s time for our public support of them to end."

U.S. Senator and White House hopeful Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter Tuesday, "It's absurd that massive corporations can legally intimidate journalists who dare question them."

Meanwhile, Columbia's Bollinger tasked Steve Coll, the dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, with handling the response to the letter, which Coll said he's preparing to publish on the school website "in the next couple of days."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

“Ridiculously, Earth-Shatteringly Stupid”: Daily Show Slams GOP Climate-Denying Gang

$3.4 Trillion: Fossil Fuel Divestment Commitments Break New Record

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

beyond foto / Getty Images

By Kimberly Holland

Children who eat a lot of gluten in their earliest years may have an increased risk of developing celiac disease and gluten intolerance, according to a new study published in JAMATrusted Source.

Read More Show Less
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Calling the global climate crisis both the greatest threat facing the U.S. and the greatest opportunity for transformative change, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled today a comprehensive Green New Deal proposal that would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs over a decade.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
orientalizing / Flickr

The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.

Read More Show Less

The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.

Read More Show Less

Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is giving President Trump a run for his money in the alternative facts department.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2019 State of the State address on Jan. 15. Governor Jay and First Lady Trudi Inslee / Flickr

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who made solving the climate crisis the center of his presidential campaign, is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic primary race.

Read More Show Less
Earthjustice

By Robert Valencia

In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.

Read More Show Less

By Stuart Braun

A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.

Read More Show Less