“CBS Sunday Morning” Puts all its Eggs in Chicken Little’s ‘Reposition Global Warming as Theory (Not Fact)’ Basket

From the Gelbspan Files

By Russell Cook

On — of all days — Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022. I’m not kidding, that’s exactly what the CBS Sunday Morning program did with their “Suing over climate change: Taking fossil fuel companies to court” report. In doing so, they telegraphed to the whole country how enviro-activists indeed only have one viable-looking weapon in their arsenal when it comes to supporting their claim that fossil fuel companies deceived the public into thinking no harm was happening while ‘knowing’ their products were causing catastrophic man-caused global warming.

The premise of CBS’ 6:45 minute segment was quite simple, featuring Charleston, South Carolina Mayor John Tecklenburg offering his views on sea level rise, and Connecticut Attorney General William Tong assuring the CBS audience that the lyin’ Exxon company knew in the early 1980s about the certainty of man-caused global warming. David Middleton, a guest post author at Anthony Watts’ WUWT website, has already dealt at quite some depth with the faults of Mayor Tecklenburg’s ‘science’ assertions. Attorney General Tong’s assertion of Exxon knowing in 1982 that “as the levels of carbon dioxide rise, the temperature of our atmosphere will rise” is contradicted by Exxon’s own 1982 document expressing sizable doubt about what computer models were predicting. That document also inconveniently dates to within two years of newspaper accounts speculating on the dim prospect of a new ice age, a larger science discussion which Exxon quite likely also knew about.

Between Tecklenburg’s and Tong’s viewpoints, CBS stated that the U.S. global warming lawsuits “are modeled after the ‘Big Tobacco’ cases of the 1990s, and accuse the companies and industry groups of making false and misleading claims about climate change” while their video simultaneously showed – in rapid succession without attribution – two print ads, where the clear implication is that the ads are false and misleading.

In their online transcript version of this broadcast segment, typically as many news outlets do, CBS Sunday Morning captioned its single ‘newspaper ad’ illustration with a source name and a bit of additional ‘information’ not spoken in the video:

One of a series of 1991 newspaper ads from the Information Council for the Environment, an energy industry group. Internal documents said the goal of their advertising campaign was to “Reposition global warming as theory (not fact).”
[source:] Information Council for the Environment

When I saw a broadcast report in the summer of 2020 by the BBC with a quite similar premise to this CBS Sunday Morning report, I didn’t simply write about it, I made the effort to file a formal complaint to the BBC. Utilizing the CBS company’s website feedback form, I sent the following text verbatim to them on the same evening of their broadcast. The link in “Error 1” was included in my text complaint regarding a minor oversight for CBS. However, I’ve have embedded three links here for readers here to click on, which go to screencaptures backing up my specific points:

4 errors in need of retraction your 4/17/22 “Suing over climate change: Taking fossil fuel companies to court” report

CBS Sunday Morning staff,

Error 1: King County in Washington state as one of two dozen U.S. lawsuit participants – King County self-dismissed its lawsuit in Sept 2021 – see: https://aboutblaw.com/ZPQ
Error 2: The “Information Council for the Environment” (ICE) “Chicken Little” newspaper ad illustration – that ad was never published, it was never seen by the public, and therefore cannot serve as evidence of fossil fuel industry ‘disinformation campaigns.’ Note that your inexplicably cropped copy has “Informed Citizens” at its bottom right, contradicting your online caption that this campaign was named “Information Council for the Environment.” Your copy is a horribly degraded multi-generation photocopy condition. What’s your explanation for that?
Error 3: Your online caption under the “Chicken Little”ad claims ICE’s goal was to “reposition global warming as theory, (not fact).” The administrators of ICE, if you make the effort to contact them, will confirm that the “reposition global warming” strategy goal was part of a proposal to them which they rejected outright. The “Informed Citizens” name was also rejected; confirmed in a 7/8/91 New York Times Matt Wald piece.
Error 4: Your report seems to imply the ICE campaign (a short-lived PR effort containing no actual disinformation) was an effort by one of the energy companies named in the ‘two dozen’ global warming lawsuits. None of the defendant companies had any affiliation with the ICE campaign.

You need to retract the assertions associated with the above 4 errors and also explain why your “Chicken Little” ad copy and the other one in your video – no matter how they were provided to you – DO NOT source from the ICE campaign, but are instead photocopies from Greenpeace USA.

Will CBS Sunday Morning retract anything in their report? One possible demonstration that they received and read my complaint would be if we see a revised map from them eliminating King County v. BP et al., which reduces their statement of “more than two dozen cities, counties and states” to exactly two dozen — 24 total. Their count differs from my count, but that’s another math / filing interpretation story.

At this point, I should note a sort of retraction myself regarding a detail in my above complaint to CBS, but my clarification will not hurt my claims, and will not help their situation one bit. When I said …

… your “Chicken Little” ad copy and the other one in your video … DO NOT source from the ICE campaign, but are instead photocopies from Greenpeace USA …

…. I’m correct about the Chicken Little ad, when my long-ago downloaded PDF file image from Greenpeace’s archives is compared to CBS’ Chicken ad copy. But with regard to that other one, the “Serious problem” ad which was published in Flagstaff / Bowling Green / Fargo newspapers (I detailed that here and here), Greenpeace’s degraded photocopy is actually far worse than what appears briefly in the CBS video version of their report, which I’ve captured in a full screen view for best clarity.

Who was revealed as having that clearer copy? Neither Mayor Tecklenburg’s Charleston v Brabham filing (the 11th one from the Sher Edling law firm that uses those illustrations in all 15 of its boilerplate copy filings) nor AG Tong’s Connecticut v. ExxonMobil filing; it doesn’t mention the ICE in any manner. And it isn’t the supplier of evidence to Sher Edling, Kert Davies, whose Climate Files website still currently shows the horribly degraded versions that trace all the way back to his tenure at the old Ozone Action organization, which is the place that gave the first ongoing media traction to the “reposition global warming” ‘leaked memos,’ a year before Ross Gelbspan boosted that further.

Who appeared within just the last two years in a not-likely-to-be-sheer coincidence situation with a previously unseen, associated with a much clearer “Serious problem” ICE ad?

Readers of GelbspanFiles will remember how I asked about that new barely two years-old development in my “The Real ICE ads, Part 2” blog post.

The BBC article I refer to there is this lengthy one which relied largely on “Merchants of Doubt” documentary movie star/book author Naomi Oreskes and Kert Davies for its accusations about fossil fuel industry-led ‘disinformation campaigns’ (BBC’s online article itself was an outgrowth of an August 2020 BBC radio broadcast interview featuring Kert Davies).

A third of the way down in that BBC article was Oreskes dutifully regurgitating talking points about the ICE campaign, followed immediately by two never-seen-before-in-public ad photocopy versions. Compare the BBC article’s “Serious problem” ad copy, left, to the CBS version.

Identical dust spots. I was thinking the CBS video arbitrarily stopped before it got to the bottom of the ad, but as seen here, the BBC version crops the bottom at the exact same level.

Rather than be one more news outlet in a long line of outlets, organizations, and individuals regurgitating what appears to be unsupportable propaganda talking points, CBS Sunday Morning and the entire CBS news organization should take this ripe opportunity to ask a simple question, “what’s really going on here?” and then follow the path this serious, unbiased, objective question leads them, asking why nice tidy problem-solving answers aren’t seen, but instead more and more questions arising about the ‘industry-orchestrated disinformation campaigns accusation’ and the core clique of people who’ve long promulgated it.

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April 20, 2022 2:17 pm

Sigh. Lawfare. The weapon of choice for the Marxists. A waste of our time and money. Fortunately the targets in this case can afford it.

Rich Lambert
Reply to  markl
April 20, 2022 3:36 pm

Ultimately consumers will foot the bill.

Tom Halla
April 20, 2022 2:26 pm

Trump missed the opportunity to charge the La Jolla conference law firms under RICO. Repeated abusive filings under that same discredited claims is just the thing to punish lawyers for, which the Bar Association will never do.
Judges are lawyers, after all, and are even more reluctant to sanction other lawyers.

April 20, 2022 2:34 pm

The final paragraph of the post starts: “Rather than be one more news outlet in a long line of outlets, organizations, and individuals regurgitating what appears to be unsupportable propaganda talking points, CBS Sunday Morning and the entire CBS news organization should take this ripe opportunity to ask a simple question, “what’s really going on here?”…

CBS news is not an organization in search of the truth. They may have been at one time (?), but no longer. They are simply there to broadcast propaganduh to dullards.


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
April 20, 2022 2:41 pm

PS: TYPO ALERT. The author of the post is listed as Russel Cook. I believe his first name is spelled with a double el, Russell.


Reply to  Bob Tisdale
April 20, 2022 3:30 pm

Fixed, thanks for the tip.

Rud Istvan
April 20, 2022 2:34 pm

The sad part is this has all been debunked before. CBS doesn’t care. Maybe they think a lie repeated by them often enough in their echo chamber becomes true. It doesn’t.

Ty Hallsted
Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 20, 2022 6:51 pm

It doesn’t have to be true – it just has to be believed. And repetition of the same message is a guaranteed way to instill in many, belief in that message.

Clyde Spencer
April 20, 2022 2:38 pm

Attorney General Tong’s assertion of Exxon knowing in 1982 that “as the levels of carbon dioxide rise, the temperature of our atmosphere will rise” …

The global temperatures had been declining for the previous two years in 1982, yet, Tong asserts that Exxon “knew” that the atmospheric temperature would rise. In 1985 it was even lower than in 1979. I think that Tong needs a crash course in epistemology.

John the Econ
April 20, 2022 2:54 pm

The City of Charleston is suing the oil industry because “climate change” has made their sea wall obsolete.

Translation: We want other people to pay for the deferred maintenance on our waterfront property because the taxpayers that elected us sure don’t want to.

What the real story should be about is how this is a perfect example of how the climate shakedown works.

When you see it that way, the whole climate change agenda makes much more sense. I hope come fall there will be some Republicans out there that will try to reconcile this with how anyone expects gasoline to be anything below $4 ever again.

Rick C
April 20, 2022 3:21 pm

This entire attack on the oil companies was total nonsense from the beginning simply because anthropogenic global warming is and always has been a theory and is still far from proven fact. There was never any point to the idea of “repositioning” the issue.

Reply to  Rick C
April 20, 2022 3:32 pm

it isn’t even a theory, and not really testable as any type of legitimate hypothesis with so many issues regarding climate in general. How do we know we aren’t just warming out of the Little Ice Age since 1850? Which warming is probably the majority of any natural variation, which we barely understand yet. Until we understand natural climate and its variability, we don’t really know a whole lot about man made climate change.

Doug S
Reply to  Earthling2
April 20, 2022 6:06 pm

Oh boy E2, couldn’t agree more with you. Climate “science” needs to solve the natural climate question first. Fully understand and describe with precision the natural portion first. Then with that out of the way, the man made portion can be presented and debated.

Reply to  Doug S
April 20, 2022 11:45 pm

When I was at school in the 1950s, in geography lessons, we taught about the 100 & 400 year “weather” cycles accounting for the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period – all totally natural – so it was well known then, and education was so much better then.

Reply to  Earthling2
April 20, 2022 8:10 pm

Hey, hey E2. Ya done gone and discovered the null hypothesis.

Good job.

Reply to  Earthling2
April 21, 2022 6:45 am

Correct. It is a failed hypothesis. It can’t explain past observations and it fails at every prediction.

Reply to  Earthling2
April 21, 2022 9:03 am

It’s a conjecture, full of fallacious conflations.

Reply to  Slowroll
April 21, 2022 1:56 pm

OMG, yes! All of this global warm-mongering is speculation, nothing more.

There has been no correlation between CO2 levels and increased temps, and that goes DOUBLE for causation.

Reply to  Rick C
April 21, 2022 9:38 am

The theory describes a hotspot over the equator which has never been observed. Millions of satellite and balloon readings show that the keystone indicator has never occurred.

The theory is crap and they know it. That’s why the leftists keep repositioning.

April 20, 2022 3:29 pm

Humans do nothing important that does not cause some harm to someone.

I can think of few things that have been as beneficial to mankind as fossil fuels.

If some nut case drives a van along a sidewalk and mows down twenty innocent pedestrians, nobody is going to sue Ford. Ford (along with everyone else) provably knew that vans are dangerous. Society has decided that vans are much more beneficial than harmful. In a sane world, the same would apply to fossil fuels.

Reply to  commieBob
April 20, 2022 3:47 pm

That Ford was powered by hydrocarbon fuels even.

April 20, 2022 4:25 pm

The only thing EXXON knew, was it’s model’s had failed at least as badly as the IPCC’s.

Hoyt Clagwell
April 20, 2022 4:57 pm

If someone is suing fossil fuel companies for injuries caused by manmade climate change, don’t they have to show actual damage to individuals that can be traced specifically back to man’s activities in order to have standing in court? I didn’t know you could sue for presumed future harm. Is this like reverse reparations? Pay me now for the injustices that may never come?

Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
April 20, 2022 5:40 pm

Smoking tobacco may cause lung cancer but non-smokers also get lung cancer. In general, and most likely in any suspected case of tobacco caused cancer, there is no direct evidence of the cause; it is a statistical probability claim, no?

Floyd Looney
Reply to  AndyHce
April 20, 2022 11:53 pm

When people start dying of climate change, then they can sue.

Martin Buchanan
Reply to  AndyHce
April 21, 2022 2:31 am

….that’s why “2nd hand smoke” became a thing.

Reply to  AndyHce
April 21, 2022 2:04 pm

And many people who smoked pretty much their whole lives did NOT get cancer, so the “proof” isn’t all that compelling.

I happen to agree that tobacco is (generally) harmful- I think it killed my dad from COPD and emphysema at age 43. He made me promise that I would not take up smoking until I turned 21 (it’s kind of pointless to ask a child to never smoke- how can they keep such a promise?), but he knew that by the time I turned 21, I would not want to start.

Good advice, and I turn 70 next week, still breathing easily and heart strong.

Last edited 11 months ago by Kpar
Reply to  Kpar
April 22, 2022 2:38 am

It’s more than just died and smoking was statistically responsible. The damage of smokers lungs when they died was clearly connected to inhalation of the poisons and tars in cigarette smoke. A non smoker who had lung cancer never had the same damage.

April 20, 2022 5:26 pm

Liars and cheats, they make me sick.

Chris Hanley
April 20, 2022 6:27 pm

Global Warming as Theory (Not Fact)

The truth or otherwise of the statement depends on what is meant by ‘Global Warming’ the same applies to ‘Climate Change’.
The alarmist camp exploit the ambiguity, imprecision and vagueness of such terms to promote their ends, whatever they may be.
The same applies to the term ‘carbon pollution’ or simply ‘pollution’ when referring to CO2 emissions.
It is a form of equivocation (or lying) that is intended to bamboozle an unwary public.

Last edited 11 months ago by Chris Hanley
April 20, 2022 6:38 pm

 Internal documents said the goal of their advertising campaign was to “Reposition global warming as theory (not fact).”

Time has done that plus much more. At best, Global Warming is now a discredited theory. The fact that the name of the threat has been changed to Climate Change by the prognasticating fraternity that demonise CO2 is evidence of that fact.

The notion of Climate Change has been carefully weaved into every adverse weather event. And, with energy supplies now depending more on weather, even balmy, calm period are adverse and the result of Climate Change.

CO2 is nothing less than the devil re-invented. It is the evil that humans must eliminate.

I made an observation recently – weather prognosticators know that if they place weather measuring instrument housings under trees the data reported is quite different to instruments not near trees. So trees and other vegetation alters the weather readings. Humans have benefited from the environmental impact tress have on their local weather probably since the first human sought shelter from rain under a tree. Now with the zealotry toward “net zero” the end game is to replace every tree on the planet with wind energy extractors in order to change the weather. I expect that is a guaranteed outcome. Removing every tree from the surface of Earth will change the weather but I doubt it will be beneficial to human existence.

The myopic focus on CO2 being evil is leading humanity into a dark place that is inconsistent with good stewardship of the planet..

Reply to  RickWill
April 20, 2022 8:06 pm

Every member of Green peace and nearly every person in the world has benefited immensely from the use of fossil fuels .
These numb skulls have been trying to sue oil and gas companies by accusing them of “knowing’ that the use of fossil fuels could or would warm the world .
These bone heads should be asked if they are prepared to live without using any fossil fuel ,also any products manufactured from fossil fuels or any product transported using fossil fuel .
What would be their answer?
I would like to see these activists and those suing the oil companies start growing their own food .cutting their firewood by hand and living as my grand parents did 100 years ago .
No cell phone .No transport except on foot or on a horse or horse and wagon .
No electricity ,no modern medicines ,no TV .
They would not last two days ,no air conditioning ,no refrigerator ,the heating and cooking using wood .
Their answer would probably be “Oh we are exempt as we are saving the world ”
“We have to fly to Glasgow to GOP 26 and take all our retinue with us as it is so important that we are there .”

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Graham
April 20, 2022 8:46 pm

Every member of Green peace and nearly every person in the world has benefited immensely from the use of fossil fuels .

Trying to zip around in a Zodiak powered by lithium ion batteries around salt water has a unique set of problems that they don’t appreciate. What happens to an inflatable craft if the lithium ion batteries catch fire?

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 21, 2022 3:09 am

That would be environmental justice.

Reply to  Graham
April 21, 2022 6:49 am

You are too kind.

Reply to  RickWill
April 20, 2022 8:40 pm

Rick W: “The myopic focus on CO2 being evil is leading humanity into a dark place that is inconsistent with good stewardship of the planet..”

Considering that we humans are carbon-based life forms, demonizing CO2 is a precursor to eliminating the human race, and all other life forms.

Extinction Rebellion is leading the charge to that dark place. Eliminate CO2 and you eliminate all living things**.

**Except cockroaches. Tough little buggars they are.

MuaKissGIF.gif (250×280)

Ah. Now I am beginning to understand. Cockroaches have mastered mind control over humans! They have minions!!

Doh! Can’t everyone see that? It sure explains Algore and Mike’s Nature trick.

(uhhhh… /sarc?)

Ed Zuiderwijk
April 21, 2022 1:13 am

If EXXON ‘knew’ in 1980 what many ‘climatologists’ now believe then they must have had much better scientists back then. What did the others do? Twiddling their thumbs?

April 21, 2022 1:36 am

In 1997, Hagel joined with the Democratic senator Robert Byrd to promote a resolution opposing the international agreement to limit greenhouse gases on the grounds that it was unfair to Americans. The measure passed the US senate without a single dissenting vote after a vigorous campaign by big oil to mischaracterize the Kyoto protocol as a threat to jobs and the economy while falsely claiming that China and India could go on polluting to their heart’s content.
‘What we now know … they lied’: how big oil companies betrayed us all (msn.com)
‘falsely claiming’….really? These people live in another dimension.

Tom Abbott
April 21, 2022 3:02 am

The Oil Companies wrote:

“Who told you the earth was warming… Chicken Little?”

“The most serious problem with catastrophic global warming is it may not be true”

I can’t find any fault with the logic of the Oil Companies. There is still no evidence that humans are causing the Earth’s climate to change in any noticeable way, even all these many years later.

The Oil Companies should prevail in court because the alarmists have no evidence for their side of the case. All they have are distortions of the facts like we have here, which are easily shown as being distortions.

Last edited 11 months ago by Tom Abbott
Russell Cook
Reply to  Tom Abbott
April 21, 2022 11:50 am

But there is a bigger wrinkle to the situation than that. A core clique of accusers claim the “Chicken Little” ad itself is evidence of disinformation campaigns designed to hoodwink the public. I proved that this specific “Chicken Little” ad was never seen by the public (here and here), and further that the other ads that did appear were simply asking reasonable questions and not spewing disinformation as the core clique implies they did.

April 21, 2022 9:32 am

So the claim is that the oil companies lied? What would the city have done differently if they had not seen those ads (which we know they didn’t)?

Robert of Texas
April 21, 2022 11:08 am

How do the fossil fuel companies even know what purpose you are buying their product for? Once refined, one can of course tell “this part goes to making gasoline”, but other parts become pharmaceuticals, roadways, lubricants, etc. Are green activists so stupid they do not know that fossil fuels are used for all sorts of end products?

What about the production of Ethanol? It produces a lot of CO2 and is not a fossil fuel. It gets a free ride?

How about cement? Both cement production and its use produce vast amounts of CO2, but it also gets a free ride?

I really wish a lot of these activists could have been staying in Texas during our Freeze-agendon. Without power for days in freezing temperatures, all they would have left is burning wood in a fireplace (assuming you had any) which is highly polluting. They might better understand why reliable power is critical – not a perk.

(Just to remind people, half of our wonderful Texas wind turbines had already frozen and by the time the power grid was collapsing, the wind stopped blowing. Over 2/3rds of our lovely wind power just disappeared when we needed power the most. All of this lost wind power and more was made up by using natural gas power facilities which allowed the power grid to be restabilized. By the time wind and solar were back online we didn’t need them.)

April 21, 2022 11:43 am

When it comes to climate science… most “facts” are only theories, and almost every theory is only a hypothesis.

Reply to  ScienceABC123
April 22, 2022 10:32 am

Sorry but no – in climate science, one starts with the politics, which generates the required policies, which then leads alarmist scientist to go looking for signs of climate-aggedon in the data, which they do find – after the real data is sufficiently massaged or synthesized.

What you mentioned certainly applies to hyperactive, prideful scientists, eager to publish and secure their jobs – leading to the current reproducibility crisis in science in general – but climate scientists take that to a new low, throwing on top of that steaming pile of dung their firmly held belief that they can justify and do anything in the cause of “saving the environment”!

Bill Sprague
April 21, 2022 2:10 pm

Deduct from the “damages” from global warming that Exxon owes Charleston all of the benefits of cars, electric lights, heat, air conditioning, power to run Charleston’s industrial companies, fuel for airplanes that serve Charleston, etc, and Charleston will owe Exxon money.

Reply to  Bill Sprague
April 22, 2022 6:13 am

And if Charleston is claiming all of these damages as a result of global warming caused by the actions of Exxon et al., then Charleston should be prepared to immediately cease all use of petroleum products and fossil fuels, otherwise they are complicit in the actions they are trying to claim damages for, and have no standing.

Bill Sprague
April 21, 2022 2:33 pm

Charleston needs to think this through. If potential damage from “Climate Change” are as bad as they think, this additional risk will have to be disclosed in their municipal bonds. This new, unquantifiable risk may greatly raise the rate of interest on their municipal bonds, as well as various insurance coverages.

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