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Hollywood Rewards Bloggers For Stirring Legal Actions Against ExxonMobil

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, in addition to hosting the Golden Globes Awards every year, has taken to contributing to biased journalism.

This year, the organization granted $1 million each to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and InsideClimate News. [1]

“The United States has always been a model of a free press to the rest of the world, but now, more than ever, we must present a strong, unified voice against the increasing threats, dangerous rhetoric and escalating harassment of those who bring us the news,” said [1] the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

As for InsideClimate News, David Sassoon, its founder and publisher, said [1] his organization “has been filling an important niche in journalism” and that “climate and environmental reporting are only getting more viral with each passing day. Long live real news.”

What caught the foreign press association’s eye on InsideClimate News is that two states are suing ExxonMobil on the basis of a series of stories it produced in 2015 [2] that claimed ExxonMobil had done the research on global warming, knew how bad it was, but hid the findings to maintain its shareholder value.

Both suits benefited recently when the Supreme Court declined to hear the company’s appeal [3] of a state court decision from Massachusetts that denied its bid to halt the suit on the basis that it does not operate in Massachusetts and thus is not subject to the state’s jurisdiction.

Climate coverage has long been a team sport among mainstream media, and this was no exception. The ruling means “ExxonMobil cannot stop a probe into whether the oil giant misled shareholders for decades about the dangers of climate change and its impact on their business,” read the quote in the Independent. [4]

Healey “has been methodically working on a case to find out what ExxonMobil Corp. knew about the impact of burning fossil fuels – and when,” wrote Steve LeBlanc of the Associated Press. [5] “This week, Healey inched closer to that goal.”

The Boston Globe charged [6] the company had “covered up its knowledge about the role its products have played in warming the planet.”

But none of those outlets have ever acknowledged the prosecution of ExxonMobil in both states and elsewhere evolved from a series of stories that themselves were more a product of public relations work than transformative journalism.

The series, called “Exxon: The Road Not Taken,” [2] purported to show “Exxon’s own research confirmed fossil fuels’ role in global warming decades ago,” as the headline on its lead piece read. “Top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions.”

The piece, produced by Sassoon and another blogger, both funded by a variety of leftist groups [7], appears to have been amplified by the work of a public relations firm funded by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, [3] a 501(c)3 organization that is part of the sprawling Rockefeller family anti-fossil fuels campaign.

Emails obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute  [8]through a freedom of information request appear to show the PR firm had received embargoed copies of the story to prepare to amplify it and the two coordinating on release of the stories, with the PR firm even being aware that what was supposed to be the sixth story in the series was bumped up to run before the fourth and fifth.

This level of coordination with a PR firm – particularly by a news outlet that consisted of little-known bloggers – is virtually unheard of in journalism and indeed raised flags for even pro-global warming alarmism journalists. The Washington Post did not even mention the series until the following year [9] in relation to another story, and it has quoted energy magnate Charles Koch calling Sassoon “an eco-activist.” [10]

The New York Times wrote just one opinion piece on it [11] and mentioned it in a piece on Al Gore calling for investigations of ExxonMobil. [12] The PR efforts seem to have overcome the skepticism, though, both among the media and, more frighteningly, among prosecutors.