Exxon Takes Aim at Columbia University Journalists Over Climate Reports

"ExxonMobil is hurling ethics accusations against a team of Columbia University journalists whose reporting helped stoke calls for probes into whether the company deliberately misled the public about climate change.

The oil giant went on the offensive in a Nov. 20 letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO. It comes as investigations by the Columbia journalists in the Los Angeles Times and a separate report by the nonprofit website InsideClimate News continue to stoke Democratic calls for a federal probe into whether the company concealed its internal understanding of the global warming threat posed by burning fossil fuels. Exxon, which through its foundation gave more than $200,000 to the university last year, addressed the letter to Columbia President Lee Bollinger and sent a copy to university trustees.

In the letter, Exxon Vice President for Public and Government Affairs Kenneth Cohen accuses a Columbia journalism professor and her team of potentially violating the university's policy on research misconduct by downplaying or ignoring information provided by the company. Cohen asks Bollinger for an opportunity to discuss "the possible remedies available to us" and seems to suggest the episode may damage Exxon's relationship with the university in the future."

Elana Schor and Hadas Gold report for Politico November 30, 2015.


"Why Are So Many Americans Skeptical About Climate Change? a Study Offers a Surprising Answer." (Washington Post)

"Exxon Sowed Doubt About Climate Science for Decades by Stressing Uncertainty" (InsideClimate News)

"Exxon Made Deep Cuts in Climate Research Budget in the 1980s" (InsideClimate News)

"Funding From Exxon or Koch Brothers Gave Deniers a Megaphone in Climate Change Debate" (TakePart)

"Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies by New York Attorney General" (New York Times)

Source: Politico, 12/01/2015