One byproduct of the traditional news media’s decline is that anybody can now present him or herself as an authoritative source of information of public interest. This includes those promoting a dubious agenda. While fraud relating to finance is a crime, there is no law against putting out disinformation that can hasten the demise of civilization.
One curious new venture, reported by the New York Times, is spearheaded by Marc Morano, until recently a Senate staffer who was an aggressive promoter of the notion that no climate change is occurring, and hence nothing needs to be done about carbon emissions. He has started his own website, ClimateDepo.com:
The site, scheduled to debut this week, will be a “one-stop shop” for anyone following climate change, Mr. Morano says. He will post research he thinks the public should see, as well as reported video segments and ratings of environmental journalists.
The funding for the site turns out to tell, as is so often the case, the whole story.
…Mr. Morano’s new Web site is being financed by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a nonprofit in Washington that advocates for free-market solutions to environmental issues.…the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the ExxonMobil Foundation and from foundations associated with the billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a longtime financer of conservative causes best known for its efforts to have President Bill Clinton impeached. Mr. Rucker said Exxon had not contributed anything last year.
…After college, Mr. Morano worked as a reporter for Rush Limbaugh, where he said he had learned the satisfactions of poking at the “liberal establishment.” He made a documentary on the Amazon rain forest, he said, because it annoyed him that celebrities like Sting could dictate what people think about the issue. They vastly exaggerated the problem of deforestation, he concluded.He then jumped to Cyber News Service, where he was the first to publish accusations from Vietnam Swift-boat veterans that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, then the Democratic presidential nominee, had glorified his war record. Many of the accusations later proved unfounded.
WhoWhatWhy.com, funded not by oil companies, but by ordinary people, hopes to provide you with the information you need to understand who is behind influential new ventures, and to monitor the accuracy of what they publish.