Journalist: #ExxonKnew is 'completely unraveling'

Interview with Business World Columnist Holman Jenkins Jr. of the Wall Street Journal on how #ExxonKnew “is completely unraveling.”  

Host: “It’s an attack on Big Oil and on free speech. Here to tell us about it is our columnist Holman Jenkins Jr, I should say. Holman, great to have you on Opinion Journal. Mary Kissle is out today, but we are fortunate to have you. We’ve been tracking this amazing series of events with the state Attorneys General demanding documents and files on pretty much anybody who has had a dissenting opinion on global warming, and has had some communication with the oil companies or think tanks that also share some skepticism.  Leading the fight has been New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. What’s the latest on this Holman?”

Holman Jenkins Jr.: “Well the latest is that his campaign is completely unraveling. First of all, it was a phony-bologna case to begin with, that Exxon had done these studies in the 70s on climate change and then lied to the public about what it had found. It didn’t. It published these studies in journals and made them available to everybody and they’ve been available ever since, so there was no mystery here.

But the other this is that Eric Schneiderman claimed he had assembled 17 Attorneys General – all the Democratic Attorneys General in the state, in the US – to follow this case with him, and it’s increasing clear that that was just a lie. He committed his own fraud. Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands signed on for a while, but now they’ve melted away. California claimed it was going to launch an investigation and it never did. The rest never signed up at all. I mean we have these private lawsuits that have now brought out all these private emails, like ones between the Iowa Attorney General’s staff saying that Schneiderman himself was the wildcard and that they didn’t want to participate in this charade.”

Host: “And of charade, and speaking of the credibility of this whole process, we should remind people – and correct me if I am wrong – these were non-judicial subpoenas that [uh], a non-judicial subpoena that Eric Schneiderman sent to Exxon. In other words, no judge, no court ever sanctioned this ‘phishing expedition’ into the views of people within and outside of these companies.”

Holman Jenkins Jr.: “That’s right. And in fact, the most far reaching was issued by a very lightweight Attorney General office in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which went after all these think tanks, all these groups marginally connected to Exxon, or who had voiced skepticism about mainstream climate science claims. That subpoena has now been withdrawn, and the Virgin Islands has basically disappeared from this whole enterprise as well. So Schneiderman is left standing there alone, and now he’s basically abandoned the whole thrust of this investigation and turned to a new thing he invented just to, sort of, run out the clock until his term ends in 2018.”

Host: “Holman, as you mentioned, going back to where this began – allegedly searching for evidence that Exxon and others that they knew supported, were skeptical, or were misleading people about climate science. As you point out, not has Exxon published a lot of research, but have also been putting in their disclosures to investors for years warnings about the potential impact of climate change. Where does, where does he go from here? And does it tell us anything that the political coalition for climate change is pursuing this kind of path instead of, for example, persuading people about the science of climate.”

Holman Jenkins Jr.: “Yeah, that’s one of the sad things about this. Remember that is all kicked off when this website, Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, independently produced supposedly investigative reports exposing Exxon’s completely public and open research into climate science in the 70s and early 80s. It turns out both of those efforts were funded by Rockefeller Foundation, a group, an NGO, which also, along with other NGOs, simultaneously conferring with Attorney General Schneiderman about how to gin-up lawsuits based on these reports. So the reports were pretty bogus, because as we said Exxon hid nothing from anybody, but also there is this deeply conspiratorial and suspicious coordination between the media and Attorney General Schneiderman via these NGOs. So that’s another sign, I mean these are the environmentalist activist groups, and that’s another sign that they’ve just given up hope on anything except vilifying people who don’t agree with them.”

Host: “Yeah, just to underline the really shoddy reporting, there were moments in that series where, for example, it would quote an Exxon scientist saying, you know, ‘many or some scientists believe that climate change is happening due to man, and it’s [a] dire problem.’ And then pretending the person was misleading the rest of the world, while they said this internally. And then what they didn’t quote was the next line would be, ‘but I don’t believe it and here’s why I don’t think it’s happening.’ So they just [uh], really just an amazing campaign of distortion. But anyway, we will keep following it and we know you will to. Thanks for joining us Holman.”


h/t to Matt Dempsey

95 thoughts on “Journalist: #ExxonKnew is 'completely unraveling'

  1. So it was a photo op with Al Gore experience. Nothing ventured, nothing gained….except more donations….from the photo op alone.

    • I have to agree. We can’t let this stand with “well they were idiots”. These aren’t Congressmen who are allowed and even required to have their own opinions and propose laws to their fellows. These are attorneys general. Officers of the court. Elected officials that quite literally hold the power of life and death over their constituents and are sworn to uphold the law.
      The fact that they clearly violated their oath by instigating a political prosecution cannot stand with a “that’s life”.

      • ??
        If the penalty for attempted bank robbery was not being allowed to keep the loot, do you figure would-be bank robbers would be adequately dissuaded, jvcstone?

  2. Schneiderman should be disbarred along with the USVI AG for their abusive use of their offical powers.
    It is part of a larger systemic pattern now within the Democratic Party where ethics have been abandoned at all levels, from the President on down, and this abandonment condoned and tolerated by the Democratic party members in furtherance of the Progressive agenda. We saw this in Wisconsin’s Joe Doe attacks against the republican governor and conservative advocacy groups. And they are emboldened by the corruption of the US DOJ and FBI by their willful blindness to the Clinton’s criminal activities (willful destruction of public records, conspiracy to do the same, willful mishandling classified, acceptance of graft payments, and perjury before Congress).
    And this rot has started at the very top of the Obama Admin, and Democrats and liberal media reporters not only don’t care, they cheer it on and aid and abet it.

    • ….”And they are emboldened by the corruption of the US DOJ and FBI by their willful blindness to the Clinton’s criminal activities”
      100 percent Golden Comment of the Year !!

      • Which was further encouraged by the at best wrist slaps given to senior IRS officials for breaking the law over and over again while pursuing any and all conservative groups.

      • …The only chance for all this corruption to be corrected is..TRUMP !…I would have preferred Cruz, but we must play the cards we are dealt !

  3. This seems perfectly consistent with the general finding that criminals have a lower IQ on average than members of the population as a whole, although the point should be nailed down more securely. And maybe it’s time to go after as well – since they were a part of this whole fiasco.

  4. “Holman Jenkins Jr.: “Yeah, that’s one of the sad things about this. Remember that is all kicked off when this website, Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times, independently produced supposedly investigative reports exposing Exxon’s completely public and open research into climate science in the 70s and early 80s. It turns out both of those efforts were funded by Rockefeller Foundation, a group, an NGO, which also, along with other NGOs, simultaneously conferring with Attorney General Schneiderman about how to gin-up lawsuits based on these reports.”
    Exxon ought to sue the Rockefeller Foundation for trying to undermine their business and costing their shareholders money.

    • Yes, but Exxon and its investors have day jobs in the real world to get on with, unlike the Rockefeller Foundation Board members. A lot of big foundations are being run this way now. It’s the new country club generation going nowhere fast and with perks.

      • The most ironic part is the history of Exxon (And Mobil Oil) and the founders of the organization that germinate the seeds of this mess. Short form, look up who founded Standard Oil and the Rockefeller Foundation

    • Yes, but the problem with that is: if Exxon wins, its proof that they are powerful and need to be brought down.
      If they lose, its proof that they were wrong. With the warmunist crowd, Exxon can’t win.

      • And that is why, Mr. Jones (this is to supplement, not to detract from your comment), Exxon, just as the U.S. Armed Forces fight for the right to yell “God, damn America” from the pulpit, should simply ignore the empty babbling of the Cult of AGW and get on with the business of keeping America strong and free by continuing to provide its lifeblood: oil.
        And, just have to add this: Go, internal combustion engine!….. If the tire fits — burn it!

      • But Exxon share holders may have a class action case, or at least those in the states of the misbehaving AGs could file an ethics complaint with their state’s bar association.

    • We need a sunset provision for foundations. It’s clear that over decades, many foundations stray far from what their original donors intended. There’s no harm in requiring a foundation to use up its capital for its basic purposes in 50 years. At that point it should be out of business. I hate to envision what the Gates Foundation or Clinton Foundation is doing in 100 years.

      • Patrick B — While I agree with your sentiments about ending corruption like that of the Clinton Foundation, “foundations” are private money. People have a right to do as they like with their own money, for as long as they want. This is America!
        Your “requiring” is what a socialist or statist would do; such a society is by no means “free.”
        Now, if they are breaking the law, they can be convicted and have their assets taken to satisfy a judgment…. but, that did not appear to be what you were advocating.

      • These foundations aren’t public organizations, they are private. How are you going to force them to shut their doors? The truth is, if the government is doing “it’s business” these foundations are being monitored and closed when they cross the line between legal and illegal. The real truth is if they are moving the politics in the direction that those in power want, they are left alone.

      • Janice: But…BUT these institutions are considered to be eleemosynary and therefore income is tax-free. There once was a set of laws in England to address a similar problem, the Statutes of Mortmain. Property was being donated to the church and held generation after generation, growing as more donations were made. Too much property was being held in the protected class of church property, so the English simply
        took it all for the Crown. We can’t simply seize these properties, but can either take away tax benefits or require a self-liquidation over a period of years. Twenty-five, maybe? And assess estate taxes on the amount of the original donation.
        Never happen.

      • Dear Jim B,
        Much as I disagree with many private foundations’ doings, I do NOT want to tax them or otherwise regulate them to death. That wealth does not belong to anyone but those who earned it and those to whom they gift it, inter vivos, or in their estate. Unless they are breaking the law (and it appears to me that the Clintons WERE breaking the laws against conflict of interest / self-dealing), I have no wish to confiscate it. Private property = liberty. And I really could not care less that they evade paying some taxes by putting funds in a legally formed and run trust. They do much more good with that money (usually) than the government would — even if it all goes to grandchildren for college and a new Corvette (manufacturing jobs!).
        And, no one is above the law, so we have the means to prevent (not that we are using them as they ought to be used, given how corrupt our socialists who so amusingly call themselves “Democrats” and RINOs are), thus, we have enough “control” over such private foundations already. If a given “charity” is violating the U.S. Tax Code (e.g., by a mere sham, such as when only about 10% of your donations actually go to genuine charitable work (Ahem!)), then go get ’em!
        Your ally for truth in science,

      • The proper solution is to educate the public which would dry up further donations to these foundations.
        Without continuing donations, the foundations will dry up on their own.

    • “Exxon ought to sue the Rockefeller Foundation for trying to undermine their business and costing their shareholders money.”
      It’s the same problem Heritage had with Peter Gleick.
      They can’t demonstrate there was a loss of revenue due to Peter’s or the AGs actions.
      What do you sue for?

  5. Maybe when it is all over Eric Schneiderman will no longer have a viable political career. The Left doesn’t care if he uses illegal tactics to push the Leftist agenda, but the Left *does* care about failing to push the Leftist agenda successfully. Schneiderman’s political support may start to diminish going forward.

  6. Corruption in the US is no different than in third world countries and it’s becoming more pronounced with the media leading the charge.

      • The media has been called “the Fourth Estate”, as it’s intended role was rationalized as a necessary watchdog over the three branches of US gov’t. That they have utterly failed that noble ideal is beyond question, thus spawning the phrase: “The Fourth Estate has become a fifth column”.

      • @Alan;
        The “Fourth Estate” gets its current usage in reference to the open press from British politics, not American.

  7. So Big Oil is attacking Big Oil (family feud?)…
    In other words, it’s the Oil Czars (Rockefellers) themselves who are behind it all!
    And they say big oil is behind all of the so-called ‘climate denial’ when in fact they are the ones who are funding the propaganda against climate skeptics…

    • Dog: You are underinformed. The Rockefeller Foundation is independent of the oil giant founded by old man John. It has been for years dominated by the downstream relatives who had nothing to do with building the business. All of them well-educated in the elite colleges and universities, in the progressive way of thinking.

  8. Hard to figure, but right now, Anthony Weiner has better standing as a politician than these guys.

  9. MacBeth weighs in with some expert testimony:
    {The soon-to-be-former NY Attorney General is} a poor player
    That strut{ed} and fret{ed} his hour upon the stage
    And then {was} heard no more:
    It {was} a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Act V. Scene V.
    “Truthful lips endure forever,
    but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.”
    Hebrew Scriptures (Proverbs 12:19).
    The “moment” can sometimes be years, even decades, long, but, every twisted player in the game of life, in the end, loses. Only a matter off weeks, now, until Hillary the Smiling Dragon, fully exposed to the light, already collapsing, shrivels completely away into a vile puddle of oily ooze and……..
    TRUMP (and America) WINS!

    • … I can remember well,
      Within the volume of which time I have seen
      Hours dreadful and things strange, but this sore night
      Hath trifled former knowings.

      • Indeed, Sir Nigel. And “there are more things in heaven and earth, {AGWers},
        Than are dreamt of in your philosophy {which you style “climate science”}.” Real things. Like ENSO. And clouds. And logic…..
        (Hamlet, Act 1. Sc. 5)

      • … this most
        excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
        o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
        with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
        me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
        WS like Bob Dylan has a quote for every occasion.

  10. But if you look at where the money from ‘Big Oil’ goes, you will find out that the government gets more money per gallon of gas than ‘Big Oil” … this means that more than half of ‘Big Oil’ money is then being used by the government to fund scientific studies thru federal grants, which are all tainted with ‘Big Oil’ money.

  11. The odd thing is that the two people who made statements at that March presser, Gore and Jepson, have gone radio silent on this thing.
    Also found a couple of odd photos of Gore with Pachauri that seem to be recent, trying to get the authenticated.
    In a related development; my wife has instructed her engineering staff to design larger and more durable bins for detention of the loonies,

    • Gore is as criminally and civilly liable as the AGs. Legal references provided again below. Maybe he figured that out and doesn’t want to lose the new mansion.

  12. It is important to note that free speech does not require one to be right about matters of fact (not talking about libel). For example, an advocacy group can claim that a 95% marginal tax rate will not hurt anyone, or that aliens are living among us or that it should be illegal to own cats or any old crazy thing. The 1st amendment does not require that one’s beliefs be valid. You think climate change is the end of the world? free speech. You think the whole thing is overblown? free speech whether you are an individual, a corporation, or a think tank.
    This does not apply to government agencies who manipulate data–they have a duty to do a proper job.

  13. ..Anthony..a slight misprint in ..Journalist: #ExxonKnew is ‘completely unraveling’
    “But the other this is that Eric Schneiderman” … :”this” should be “thing”…
    Super great article…Thanks for it !! …Made my day ! LOL

  14. Question: What is the going rate for a photo op moment on climate change for an AG? And is there a bonus for using staff time to look busy on the topic? Does it equal a Hillary speech on Wall Street?

  15. If they want to find evil and wrongdoing, they need look no further than Goldman Sachs. Oh wait, they’re a donor.

  16. As pointed out several times before, the targeted have criminal options under 18USC241 and civil options under 42USC1983. Somebody just needs the courage and resources to act on on these clear federal civil rights statutes. Defendants include LAT, Inside Climate News, UCS, Gore and Oreskes aswell as at least MA, NY, and USVI AGs.

  17. How do these AGs even dare to show their face in public? They should be SO embarrassed that they’ve made such an arse of themselves and brought such disrepute to their office, I’m surprised they haven’t quietly resigned and slunk off into the wilderness. The question is therefore, why haven’t they?

  18. While we’re on the subject, perhaps it’s worth mentioning that the whole nefarious cap-and-trade scheme was dreamed up by a fine collection of n’er-do-wells including Enron’s CEO Ken Lay, BP’s Lord John Browne, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore.

  19. “First of all, it was a phony-bologna case to begin with, that Exxon had done these studies in the 70s on climate change and then lied to the public about what it had found. It didn’t. It published these studies in journals and made them available to everybody and they’ve been available ever since, so there was no mystery here….”
    In order to throw an additional wrench into the works of this, I think it would be interesting if ExxonMobil or someone else could dig up old copies of those journals where these studies were published. Then the notion that ExxonMobil engaged in any kind of fraud would be near impossible to support in my view. And that would include hiding anything from shareholders and defrauding them.

  20. Looks to me like Exxon was right in line with some of our “experts” at the time. From the LAT’s ‘investigation,

    By the early 1990s, Exxon began putting its new public relations strategy into practice.
    At the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in 1990, the board of directors denounced a dissident shareholder proposal that called for Exxon to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, citing “great scientific uncertainties” about the environmental effects of global climate change.

    From a Dec, 1989 news article from the Santa Cruz news article:

    Analysis of warming since 1881 shows most of the increase in global temperature happened before 1818 – before the more recent sharp rise in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, said Thomas Karl, of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N. C.
    “ While global climate warmed overall since 1881, it actually cooled from 1921 to 1979, Karl said.”
    In Spite of all the well-publicized concern about global warming, you must understand that there is still considerable uncertainty among scientific experts about a number of critical factors which determine global warming,” NOAA Administrator John Knauss said in a statement issued for the geophysics meeting.

    Sue NOAA.

  21. Those involved in this affair put individuals and an American corporation through an ordeal.
    And as such these parties should be investigated and the guilty punished so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.
    Some backed out of this affair but they were there at the beginning.
    These parties are still defying U.S. Congressional subpoenas. Sets a precedent if this allowed to happen.

  22. Apparently I can no long read he phrase ‘phony-bologna’ without hearing it in Mel Brook’s voice.

  23. There is a certain symmetry to the whole scam . First we have the alleged scientific certainty that the earth has a fever and humans are the cause along with hyperventilating stories of imminent climate doom .
    After it became obvious the climate model projects were a complete joke they reacted like any good marketing company and repackaged the brand to climate change . Sending out their pitch men to school the media on the new lingo and communication mush . Soon or later a hurricane would hit or a polar bear would drown . Yep climate change the catch all phrase to cover any and all things .
    Finally as desperation sets in begin they begin to to run out of options so they claim to corral a bunch of friendly AG’s who are warm to the idea of coming out of the closet as lobbyist’s for a favoured corporate welfare industry and using their AG office and job title naming EXXON as their evil empire target along with some bizarre “when did they know ” BS .
    The common thread is … well obvious . Puff up and look bigger than they really are .Like throwing a big hoola hoop over all scientists and dragging a bunch of uncomfortable AG’s on a stage to try and create
    some traction for there last gasp attempt to salvage one of the biggest scams in history .
    The people were hip to their tricks long ago .

  24. The answer to solving “global warming ” is to take the money out of it . The parasites will find something else to flog as they always have .

    • The standard leftist tripe for a less corrupt society (in the US) is “take the money out of politics”. The idea of taking the politics out of money (i.e. business) apparently doesn’t occur to them.

      • As PJ O’Rouke wrote, when politics controls buying and selling, the first thing bought and sold will be politicians. (Not an exact quote)
        As long as politics is intertwined with economics, money will find it’s way to Washington. There are no laws or series of laws that can prevent it. Between the perfectly legal loopholes, and out and out corruption, those with stuff to protect, will do what is necessary to protect it.

  25. Surely the supreme irony is not that the “progressives” have taken control of John D’s money pile to attack his creation (Exxon Mobil) but that it was Standard Oil (Esso) that saved the Whales. In a couple of decades his lamp oil, Standard Oil, collapsed the New England whaling industry…. long before Greenpeace et al. were conceived. Thomas Edison rocked his boat for a while but then Nickolaus Otto and Henry Ford saved the day.

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