Washington insiders know the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual gala as one of the most widely attended and well-liked events on the Washington think tank social calendar.
But for mainstream media reporters, the most important aspect of the dinner is its printed program. That program publicly thanks donors to the dinner, giving reporters a rare look at who supports not only this liberty-focused group but others that work on the issues the donors hold dear.
This enabled the Competitive Enterprise Institute to earn the lead mention in last week’s Climate Fwd newsletter in the New York Times. “Follow the Money That Undermines Climate Science,” read the headline on the piece, by Lisa Friedman and Hiroko Tabuchi.
From the headline on, the piece assumes climate alarmism and that those who deny do so for ulterior purposes.
“It’s difficult to figure out who’s funding climate denial, because many of the think tanks that continue to question established climate science are nonprofit groups that aren’t required to disclose their donors,” Friedman and Tabuchi wrote to explain why the group’s annual dinner program is such a big deal.
“The program for a recent gala organized by the institute, which included a list of corporate donors, offered a rare glimpse into the money that makes the work of these think tanks possible.”
There were the usual suspects, the Times reported – the Charles Koch Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which, it noted “pushed to weaken care fuel economy standards, one of the Obama administration’s landmark climate policies.”
But it also included “major corporations, like Google and Amazon, that have made their commitment to addressing climate change a key part of their corporate public relations strategies.” In fact, the Times notes, both “signed a pledge of support for the Paris agreement and joined a coalition that owed to stick to the climate pact’s goals after President Trump announced the United States would withdraw from it.”
Google’s spokesperson responded: “We’ve been extremely clear that Google’s sponsorship doesn’t mean that we endorse that organization’s entire agenda.” Amazon, “where employees have been urging the company’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, to adopt a climate change policy,” the Times wrote, “said the company ‘may not agree with all of the positions of each organization,’ but believed that its $15,000 contribution to the event ‘will help advance policy objectives aligned with our interests.’”
The Times wrote that the Competitive Enterprise Institute did advocate on a number of issues, including anti-trust law, that might concern the tech giants.
“Still, the organization is arguably best known for its work disputing the science of climate change, and the corporations’ support comes at a time when the think tank has played an outsized role in the Trump administration. The head of the environmental program at the CEI, Myron Ebell, led the Trump administration’s transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency [and] spearheaded the opposition to the Paris agreement.”
Beyond the assumption that anyone advocating for environmental goals other than those enunciated by the global warming alarmist hierarchy must be suspect, the media rarely looks in the other direction.
For instance, in 2018, the Daily Signal reported that Russia – a competitor with the U.S. in worldwide energy markets – funded groups that fought for a ban on fracking in New York state. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club Foundation each received more than $10 million from the San Francisco-based Sea Change Foundation, which gets its support from a Bermuda company that congressional investigators linked to the Russians, according to the Daily Signal.
One CIA agent called it “an example of successful Russian espionage” and said “this looks like an actual case of knowing or unknowing collusion with Russia.”