The ATM for Climate Denial: Shadowy Group Bankrolls Vast Network of Science Skeptics
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AMY GOODMAN: Donors Trust declined our request to join us on today’s show, but the group’s president and CEO, Whitney Ball, provided us with a statement. She wrote, "DonorsTrust was established to promote liberty and help like-minded donors preserve their charitable intent. We follow the same rules and operate in the same manner as other donor-advised funds which include the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Jewish federations, local community foundations, and the left-of-center Tides Foundation, just to name a few. Donor-advised funds are classified as public charities, and thus are not required to disclose their donors. I do not know of a donor-advised fund that makes their donor lists public. The press has referred to us as a 'black box,' labeled our funding as 'dark money,' and [Suzanne] Goldenberg described us as 'secretive.' These characterizations are unfair and misleading. How is it that the Tides Foundation, which has a record of funding environmental causes and does not publish donor lists, is never characterized in the same way by these same reporters?" Your response, Suzanne Goldenberg, as she names you?
SUZANNE GOLDENBERG: Well, oh, sure. This is the first I’ve heard of it. Well, you know, I talked to Whitney Ball. I asked her flat out, "Can you tell me who gives to you, what kind of people give to you?" And she said, "No. I mean, that in fact is the purpose of this trust, to make the giving anonymous, to give—to allow these conservative billionaires to remain hidden." And I think, you know, she’s trying to cast this as, look, the right have their organizations, the left have their organizations.
I think there’s something really different here and that comes into play, in that these organizations being supported by Donors Trust are actually working to spread information that is factually incorrect, that is untrue. You know, it’s as if you’re sort of funding groups to go around saying, "Oh, you can get the HIV virus from toilet seats." You can’t draw this equivalence here. These organizations are—you know, were funded for the express purpose, many of them, of spreading disinformation.
AARON MATÉ: Now, Suzanne, one of the climate denialists funded by Donors Trust is a group called the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.
SUZANNE GOLDENBERG: Yes.
AARON MATÉ: They run the website Climate Depot, which consistently attacks scientists and environmentalists who call for taking on global warming. Now, the head of Climate Depot, Marc Morano, appears frequently on Fox News and also mainstream outlets like CNN. On Monday, the day after tens of thousands of people rallied against the Keystone XL pipeline on the National Mall, Morano appeared on Fox News to warn that Keystone opponents could resort to, quote, "ecoterrorism." And he cited as their inspiration the NASA climatologist James Hansen.
MARC MORANO: So, the leaders at NASA—and, you know, I call him NASA’s resident ex-con—is inspiring these people to potential acts of ecoterrorism. These people believe in this doomsday prophecy. And don’t think they won’t act. I mean, when I was in the U.S. Senate Environment Committee, we had to deal with ecoterrorism when it came to animal rights. We had to deal—there’s been ecoterrorism when it deals with property rights out in Colorado. So it’s a very real thing—torching SUVs. This movement, if it gets frustrated, particularly frustrated with a Democratic president, Obama, who’s supposed to be their standard bearer, and actually goes ahead and approves the pipeline, there are going to be a lot of angry people, not the least of which is probably the NASA scientist going to jail again, James Hansen.
AARON MATÉ: That’s Marc Morano of Climate Depot appearing on Fox News.