"Digging for Dark Money"

Exposes by the Guardian and Center for Public Integrity have unravelled parts of a dark network which launders the millions flowing from fossil-fuel interests like the Koch brothers to climate change denial and disinformation outlets. It was documents obtained by scientist Peter Gleick, whose undercover tactics brought criticism from some journalists, that helped bring the story to light.

"Just over a year ago, Peter Gleick, a scientist and climate-change activist, obtained a cache of internal documents from The Heartland Institute by calling the anti-regulatory think tank and claiming to be one of its board members. Even though Gleick was not a journalist, the ploy stirred up a debate about when and where the media can use deception to obtain information. The consensus, and it’s the right one, was that it’s a tactic of last resort.

Gleick’s gambit has also proved to be quite fruitful, however, and the budgetary records he dug up have inspired a chain of journalistic investigations that revealed a web of anonymous donors that spends millions of dollars each year casting doubt on climate-change science and fighting efforts to address the problem.

Case in point, last Thursday, The Guardian published a multipart exposé by Suzanne Goldenberg of a “secretive funding network” that distributed $118 million between 2002 and 2010 to 102 think thanks and advocacy groups “working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising ‘wedge issue’ for hardcore conservatives.”"

Curtis Brainard reports for Columbia Journalism Review's The Observatory blog February 19, 2013.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013