Claims and counter-claims are racing through the interwebz as a good old fashioned blogging war/storm has erupted. The DeSmogBlog claims the documents leaked are authentic. Heartland have stated that at least one document – the incendiary 2012 Strategy Paper – is a “fake”.
Andy Revkin over at Dot.Earth comments on the battle for credibility currently being waged:
A blog storm began building Tuesday and broke on Wednesday as environmental groups posted a batch of documents — ranging from tax forms to lists of donors to a 2012 Heartland “climate strategy” — that appeared to expose the group’s game plan, budgets and backers in remarkable detail.
Late on Wednesday, Heartland posted a statement asserting that the strategy document was a “total fake” and the others, while appearing to be authentic, might have been altered and were, in any case, obtained through criminal means:
Steve Zwick over at Forbes comments:
Among those alleged misstatements is a paragraph that appears to corroborate the ThinkProgress report (which Heartland already confirmed), and another that identifies Forbes as a target of Heartland propaganda. We have chosen to remove excerpts from that report until further information comes to light, but DeSmogBlog is keeping them up until they’re proven wrong.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, for DeSmogBlog has proven not only credible over the past six years, but adept at rolling out its message – something that the scientific community has generally failed to do. The blog was started by PR-man Jim Hoggan and journalist Richard Littlemore to address “the use of PR techniques and spin by politicians, scientists, and in the media” rather than the actual science of climate change, which it leaves to sites like RealClimate.
The DeSmogBlog stand by the documents:
The DeSmogBlog has reviewed that Strategy document and compared its content to other material we have in hand. It addresses five elements:
The Increased Climate Project Fundraising material is reproduced in and confirmed by Heartland’s own budget.
The “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms” is also a Heartland budget item and has been confirmed independently by the author, Dr. David Wojick.
The Funding for Parallel Organizations; Funding for Selected Individuals Outside Heartland are both reproduced and confirmed in the Heartland budget. And Anthony Watts has confirmed independently the payments in Expanded Climate Communications.
At this point I am going to trust the claims of DeSmogBlog. As Zwick notes, they have proven to be a reliable source over the years with a strong track record in exposing the machinations and inner workings of the denial machine. If the document proves to be fake, then the comments should be retracted and The DeSmogBlog should apologise.
The credibility of both DeSmogBlog of the Heartland Institute is very much on the line. It will be worth watching how it plays out.
The Heartland Institute throws out legal threats against journalists and websites
No doubt the people at the Heartland Institute understand the ramifications if these documents prove to be authentic: their “brand” will be forever compromised. Funding from wealthy benefactors and corporations will dry up. The “message” of the deniers will be severely tainted.
Via Mongabay.com come reports that Heartland is threatening to sue journalists and websites that reproduce the documents (or even sections of them):
“…The threat was spelled out in an email sent to media outlets (including mongabay.com) by Jim Lakely, Communications Director at the Heartland Institute. The group said it will “pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation” from “individuals who have commented so far on these documents”, prior to the Heartland Institute’s official response. It also states that one of the documents is “a total fake.”
High stakes indeed.
Updates posted as they come to hand
12.53pm – ThinkProgress Green puts together the pieces that support the authenticity of the documents:
Questions about the authenticity of the leaked Heartland Institute documents are fading, as projects described therein are confirmed. Heartland’s senior fellow James Taylor confirmed the existence of the climate-denier classroom curriculum project to ThinkProgress Green yesterday. Now, anti-science blogger Anthony Watts has confirmed that Heartland is funding his project to display weather station data, detailed in the leaked fundraising plan.
Heartland admit the existence of the classroom project. Watts confirms he receives funding… recall Watts has repeatedly claimed he has never received a “dime”!