Opinion by Kip Hansen – 22 May 2021
Covering Climate Now (CCNow) is an advocacy organization operating out of the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) at Columbia University in New York, USA. Their purpose is to spread fear and alarm about – or as they say “raise public awareness of” — what they claim is a “Climate Emergency” or “Climate Crisis”. They are overtly political, liberal-progressive and in the U.S.’s two-party political system, not only actively support and promote the Democratic party and its policy platforms, but overtly urge blaming the opposing Republican party for failing to support climate alarmism – to the extreme that they call for “political leaders who deny the well-established science of climate change ‘should be tried for crimes against humanity.’” [ source ]
CCNow claims to feed stories to 460 media outlets around the world, with a daily penetration of 2 billion readers or listeners. [ source ]
Their approach is to feed pre-written stories, editorial narratives and shared resources to magnify the voices of alarm to convince the world’s people that there is a Climate Crisis that demands everyone giving up fossil fuels, access to inexpensive electrical power, air travel, natural gas heating and cooking and the myriad other benefits of modern life that are a normal part of our developed societies. In addition, they provide story-sharing opportunities where stories in one media outlet can be feely re-posted/re-pubished to another, or used as the basis for “original” re-writing at another media outlet.
Don’t be fooled though. While many of the journalists and reporters that participate in this propaganda campaign are “True Believers” and honestly think that they are doing the right thing, even as they knowingly write biased, one-sided, exaggerated versions of the potential downsides of a warming world, they don’t seem to have any intention to give up anything in their own lives – only other people will be required to do so. They are no different than the now-rich politicians banging on about how bad climate change will be while buying up waterfront mansions in the most expensive enclaves-of-the-rich in the world. These journalists will still happily fly around the world to write of the sorrows of the poor and attend any and every climate conference with jet-setting Hollywood stars.
So, you may well ask, “Who is paying for all of this?”
That question is both easy and difficult. It is easy to find the sources of funding
at that are publicly acknowledged by CCNow, those who allow their support to be promoted. It is not known if The Guardian, The Nation, Columbia Journalism Review or the major news agencies and television news networks actually fund salaries at CCNow. It is difficult to discover who is really paying all the expenses for staff salaries, web site hosting, story writing, outreach and all the other expenses inherent in a large, far-reaching advocacy organization – because CCNow is not incorporated and not itself a 501(3)c, it does not have traceable reporting of donations.
Here is CCNow’s official statement:
Covering Climate Now has been made possible by generous grants from Actions@EBMF, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Michaux Family Foundation, Park Foundation, Rockefeller Family & Associates, Schumann Media Center and Wayne Crookes. The fiscal sponsor for Covering Climate Now is the DC-based 501c3, The Fund for Constitutional Government. We are looking for additional funding to sustain the collaborative. Please contact Judy Doctoroff at email@example.com for more information.
Co-founded by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation in association with The Guardian and WNYC in 2019, CCNow’s 460-plus partners include some of the biggest names in news, and some of the smallest, because this story needs everyone. In addition to three of the world’s biggest news agencies — Reuters, Bloomberg, and Agence France Presse — each of which provides content to thousands of other newsrooms, our partners include CBS News, NBC and MSNBC News, Noticias Telemundo, PBS NewsHour, Univision, Al Jazeera; most of the biggest public radio stations in the US; many flagship newspapers and TV networks in the Americas, Europe, and Asia; and dozens of leading magazines and journals, including Nature, Scientific American, Rolling Stone, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, and Mother Jones.
The big reveal is that CCNow operates under cover of The Fund for Constitutional Government (FCG). That means that the FCG lets CCNow slip under the covers of its 501(c)3 status, even though CCNow is not an incorporated entity – it is considered a separate project.
And who is FCG when they get up each morning?
“The Fund for Constitutional Government (FCG) is a publicly funded foundation dedicated to exposing and correcting corruption in the United States federal government. FCG accomplishes this work by funding organizations and journalists working to advance and sustain an open and accountable government. FCG is a Section 501(c)(3) organization and may also serve as a fiscal sponsor for new projects.”
What federal government corruption has to do with the current propaganda efforts of CCNow is a mystery – the only connection would be journalism, if only that was what CCNow was really doing, which it isn’t. CCNow is an advocacy group corrupting journalism for what they see as a White Hat Cause – doing good – by any means.
And while Stephen H. Schneider repeatedly tried to walk back his published 1989 statement, CCNow has taken his original statement very much to heart – so much so that it seems to be their guiding principle:
“On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”
Unfortunately, Mark Hertsgaard & Kyle Pope, the founders of CCNow, seem dedicated to only the bolded portion of Schneider’s statement, and exclude all of his ethical caveats. A review of stories pushed by CCNow reveals that there is no effort whatever to see that the stories they ghost-write and share with news outlets are scientifically honest or even factually correct.
Following the Money
It is nearly impossible to “follow the money” with an unincorporated group that hides behind the fiscal sponsorship of a larger charitable organization. Thus, after a great deal of effort, I must report a “null finding” or “negative result”. I did not find any great mysterious malevolent group funding CCNow.
So, who is Paying for CCNow? Where is the money coming from?
For those with little patience and an equal amount of curiosity, the simple answer is:
The Usual Suspects
And who would that be?
Rockefeller Family Fund [and several other Rockefeller family-related trusts and foundations]
and also, to a lesser degree:
Wayne Crookes [Canadians will recognize this name]
The Motts, Parks, and Rockefellers fund lots of leftish and progressive organizations. I would need to be funded by FCG or the Rockefellers to have the resources to discover where the money is really coming from. I can’t even find a way to discover how much money is involved.
The Board of CCNow consists of:
Michael Cavallo — Writer and Former Director of Renewable Energy for C40 Cities
Mark Hertsgaard — Editor at Large at The Nation
Conrad Martin — Executive Director of Fund for Constitutional Government and on the Board of the Stewart R. Mott Foundation
Kyle Pope — Editor and Publisher of Columbia Journalism Review
Jane Spencer — Deputy Editor and Head of Strategy at Guardian US
Katrina vanden Heuvel — Publisher and Editorial Director of The Nation
The Team (I am guessing that this means paid staff):
Mark Hertsgaard — co-founder & executive director
Judy Doctoroff — managing director
Karin Kamp — digital editor
Mekdela Maskal — engagement editor
Andrew McCormick — deputy director
Symone Moore — project coordinator
Lili Zay — research & engagement coordinator
There is more information about each of the above at CCNow’s About page – clicking on names results in a pop-up info window.
The Bottom Line:
Covering Climate Now seems to be funded by the usual gaggle of left-ish and progressive charitable-funding foundations and news organizations already engaged in their own climate-related propaganda campaigns.
While the efforts of CCNow are a reprehensible corruption of journalism, there does not seem to be any discoverable unusual funding source.
# # # # #
I didn’t expect to find much to report on the funding of CCNow, but felt I should share what I did find. Rather disappointing . . . but reality often is.
Funding in the world of non-profits is based on a good idea, a good “pitch” and a “popular cause”. I have raised thousands for my small 501(c)3 that helps poor families with just a web site and registering with foundations that “forward” donations — allowing donors to be one-step separated from the donation recipients. My “good idea” is micro-enterprise loans to profoundly poor families to allow them to lift themselves out of poverty through family-based businesses. The pitch is this effort is from one family (the donor) to another family, the recipient. And helping the poor help themselves has always been a popular cause.
CCNow has perverted this pattern to raise funds to scare people into going along with society-destroying solutions to a non-existent problem. Do me a favor, expose CCNow whenever and wherever you can. Thanks.
Start comments with “Kip…” if speaking to me.
Thanks for reading.
# # # # #