The left loves to complain that conservatives say what they do because they are tools, mouthpieces for Big Oil, the Koch brothers, Monsanto, or other insidious capitalists.
Here are two cases of people on the left who haven’t fully disclosed their funders.
Bill McKibben recently complained on the New Yorker’s website about how no one was paying attention to a series on the Inside Climate News website that claimed that scientists for Exxon (now ExxonMobil) concluded in the late 1970s that global warming was caused by humans and was a threat.
I’m not going to comment on the claims of Inside Climate News, except to wonder how they got hold of 35-year-old internal documents. The more interesting story is McKibben’s title: “Schumann Distinguished Scholar” at Middlebury College.
It is highly likely that, unless Middlebury was contacted by unusually devoted admirers of composer Robert Schumann, that McKibben’s chair is paid for by an organization that started off as the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, changed its name to the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, and is now the Schumann Media Center. Throughout the name changes, the constant in the Schumann organization is its president: Bill Moyers. According to its 2013 Form 990s. Moyers was paid $50,000 in that year for his role as Schumann Media Center president.
The Schumann Media Center is a mysterious organization. It has no website, and if you weren’t familiar with Guidestar, you wouldn’t be able to find out anything about them. But ever since Bill Moyers (and his son, John, who has since left) took over the foundation in 1990, the nonprofit has been a steady funder of liberal websites, magazines, and TV and radio programs.
Bill Moyers’s lengthiest explanation about his dual role as Schumann head and public television pontificator came in 2009. Bill Moyers had as his guest Wendell Potter, who used to be head of corporate communications for the health insurer Cigna and then became a fellow at the Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal nonprofit which got grants from the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy. Brent Bozell asked why Bill Moyers didn’t say that the foundation he headed gave grants to the organization Potter worked for.
PBS ombudsman Michael Getler, after dutifully bashing Bozell, said that he “raised a broader point that remains troublesome,” namely Moyers’s dual role as TV host and foundation CEO. Moyers first responded with some hand waving, saying that Schumann did not fund the Center for Media and Democracy at the time of the broadcast. But then he went deep into his id and blamed the question on….wait for it….Richard Nixon. You might have thought that Tricky Dick could not cause any more trouble, due to his being dead. But Moyers claimed, “They’ve (conservatives) been at this ever since Nixon and Pat Buchanan, his director of communications, set out to defund public broadcasting.”
In January, Moyers retired for the third time. No doubt he is comfortably at home, shaking his cane and ranting about Nixon. But the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi noted in an article on his retirement “that Moyers occasionally featured on his program some of the very organizations Schumann financed without disclosing the connection.” For example, in 2012, an entire episode of “Moyers and Co.” was devoted to an interview with Heather McGhee, Washington policy director of Demos. Demos received $525,000 from Schumann between 2011-13. The Schumann grants were not mentioned during the interview.
Bill Moyers interviewed Bill McKibben twice in 2014. If Moyers’s foundation funded McKibben’s chair, that connection was not disclosed in the broadcast. Nor does McKibben disclose his funding on his website.
I’m sure the Schumann Media Center doesn’t give Bill McKibben orders. The mind meld is so complete they don’t have to.
But it is time for Bill McKibben to explain who paid for his chair at Middlebury and why public television viewers shouldn’t know about his Moyers connection. If he won’t answer the question, what is he trying to hide? What is the difference between McKibben hiding his funders and George Stephanopoulos concealing his Clinton Foundation donations?
In June, I wrote about an idiotic op-ed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse about how people skeptical of the prevailing wisdom about climate change should be indicted as “racketeers.” Unfortunately, in September 20 prominent climate scientists led by George Mason’s Jagdish Shukla issued a letter reiterating the theme that their opponents should be investigated as criminal “racketeers.”.
(NOTE: I have been paid by George Mason and its affiliated foundation to edit books by George Mason scholars.)
The climate scientists who signed this asinine letter were affiliated with the Institute of Global Environment and Society or IGES. Although I learned about the dubious nature of IGES from Ian Tuttle of National Review Online, Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller broke the story.
Bastasch, following up on tweets by independent climate researcher Roger Pielke, Jr., reported on September 21 that IGES had gotten $3.8 million in 2014, mostly in government grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation. Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon followed up with reporting that IGES had gotten $63 million in federal funds since 2001.
In addition, says Bastasch, records show that Shukla was getting $333,000 for his part-time work as head of IGES while simultaneously earning $314,000 as a full-time George Mason professor. This may violate Virginia laws barring state employees from “double-dipping” in the private sector.
The IGES took down their letter demanding climate skeptics be imprisoned. But Rep. Lamar Smith, Jr., chair of the House Science Committee, has written to Shukla asking if federal funds were used in his call for prosecuting climate skeptics. That’s a good question.
Here’s my question: if planetary doom from climate change is so certain, why is it a good idea to jail scientists who are exercising their First Amendment rights?
NOTE: I’d like to send some compliments to the Daily Caller and the Washington Free Beacon. Conservatives have too many op-ed writers and not enough reporters. It’s good to see two right-of-center organizations devoted to unearthing new information.