Heartland’s Board Backs Campaign To Smear Climate Science Believers, Even As Eleven Companies Drop Support

ClimateWire published a truly amazing story about Heartland-Gate Friday, “For Heartland board, failed climate attack was a surprise.”

On the surface, it is a CYA story where members of the Board assert they did not know in advance about Heartland’s now widely condemned campaign to compare climate science believers and reporters to mass ‘murderers and madmen’.

But what the story actually does is confirm that the Board stands behind Heartland’s ongoing smear campaign — since Heartland hasn’t backed off any of its hate speech or apologized for the original ad.

I should say the remaining Board, because as the story notes:

Another director, Robert Lamendola, resigned last Friday because of the ad, according to sources. He’s a senior adviser for Renaissance Reinsurance, which terminated its relationship with Heartland over the billboard after giving the organization $407,000 during the past two years.

Every other insurance company and trade group supporting Heartland also cut ties with the group….

Indeed, we learned last week that the insurers expressed “disgust and shock” over the campaign. And just this afternoon, news broke that Eli Lilly, BB&T and Pepsi will no longer support the Heartland Institute. That brings the number of companies dropping Heartland to 11. According to Forecast the Facts, more than 150,000 citizens have weighed in against the organization’s messaging strategy.

So while most folks are abandoning Heartland or condemning its actions, here’s what we learn about the Board:

According to three people with knowledge of Heartland’s campaign, the surprise ad comparing Unabomber Ted Kaczynski to advocates of reducing greenhouse gases prompted a sudden conference call last Friday between the board and the group’s president, Joe Bast. The call occurred hours after the electronic billboard became active Thursday afternoon. The ad was canceled before rush hour Friday.

One director on the 14-member board disassociated himself from the failed campaign when asked whether he was comfortable with the message of the highway advertisement….

“Since the billboard thing happened, we’re on the same page moving forward,” said the board member. “Whatever Heartland is saying at this point, I think we’re all in concert with.”


The remaining Board is on the same page with “whatever Heartland is saying at this point.” That’s really a bombshell because Heartland’s website makes clear:

  1. Heartland refuses to apologize for the billboards.
  2. Heartland is saying now exactly what they said before the billboard was taken down — some of the most extreme speech ever seen from a global warming denial group, including this absurd assertion, “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.

Since the Board has apparently endorsed it, Heartland’s detailed rationalization for its campaign is worth quoting at length once again since it is so self-discrediting for the whole organization:

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute point out that some of the world’s most notorious criminals say they “still believe in global warming” – and ask viewers if they do, too…

The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).

These rogues and villains were chosen because they made public statements about how man-made global warming is a crisis and how mankind must take immediate and drastic actions to stop it.

Why did Heartland choose to feature these people on its billboards?

Because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the “mainstream” media, and liberal politicians say about global warming….

The point is that believing in global warming is not “mainstream,” smart, or sophisticated. In fact, it is just the opposite of those things. Still believing in man-made global warming – after all the scientific discoveries and revelations that point against this theory – is more than a little nutty. In fact, some really crazy people use it to justify immoral and frightening behavior.

Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants.

Seriously. The Heartland Institute — and apparently its Board — still wants you to know that not every single climate scientist — nor every member of the over 120 governments who sign off on the IPCC assessment reports nor every reporter who writes accurately — is like a psychopath.

And yet they still write:

The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.

Has there ever been a more insidious attack in this country on scientists and reporters — and millions of Americans who are alarmed and concerned about global warming based solely on what the science actually says?

As Climate Central put it, “Heartland Institute Jumps the Shark.”

Related Post:

NOTE: ThinkProgress is among several publications to have published documents attributed to the Heartland Institute and sent to us from an anonymous and then unknown source. The source later revealed himself. The AP worked to independently verify the documents and concluded, “The federal consultant working on the classroom curriculum, the former TV weatherman, a Chicago elected official who campaigns against hidden local debt and two corporate donors all confirmed to the AP that the sections in the document that pertained to them were accurate. No one the AP contacted said the budget or fundraising documents mentioning them were incorrect.” Heartland Institute has issued several press releases on the documents. See also “CAPAF General Counsel Responds To Heartland Institute.”

10 Responses to Heartland’s Board Backs Campaign To Smear Climate Science Believers, Even As Eleven Companies Drop Support

  1. Lionel A says:

    The Heartland conference schedule can be found here.

  2. Scott Supak says:

    A few months ago, Neil Degrasse Tyson was on Real Time with Bill Maher, arguing with the former chairman of GM, Bob Lutz, who is a climate denier.

    At the end of the conversation, Tyson says, well, now you can bet on it.

    To which I said, “Wait. What?”

    And sure enough, there’s Intrade’s climate markets, where we can all put our money where our mouths are, every month and every year, on global temperature anomalies.

    I encourage everyone to encourage the skeptics to go bet, because there is an odd absence of sellers. Perhaps the Heartland Institute would like to know how they can make their board members even wealthier.

  3. Barry Saxifrage says:

    LOL. Keynote speaker is Joe Bastardi!

  4. Barry Saxifrage says:

    Nothing says PANIC quite like that billboard campaign and their inability to retract something as hate-filled and obviously wrong as: “The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”

    Sheer utter PANIC. This isn’t talking from a position of strength. It is pure ugly desperation.

    As Hansen points out, we are now hitting the tipping point in global warming where extreme weather become obvious and attributable to fossil fuel emissions even by everyday folks.

    Panic is justified by the core of the denial movement as they know society is just one or two more nasty weather events from turning on them.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’m rather less sanguine. I see this as a typical Rightwing purge. The prevaricators and secret ‘liberals’ are, naturally, repulsed, and leave the group. The ideological commitment of the remaining core membership is hardened, and the parameters of their groupthink is pushed even further to the hate-filled extreme Right. The flow of Kochtopus moolah will not be reduced. The tactic of total opposition, total rejectionism, the ‘Iron Wall’ of refusing to deal with the despised Other or compromising at all is proving a successful tactic for the Hard Right, because, while it ‘incentivises’ the very worst die-hards, it actually demoralises the opposition. Dealing with hardcore thugs, who refuse to debate or discuss, who dismiss you as evil,lying, conspirators, who are winning through these villainous tactics, and by so doing are making auto-genocide of our species certain, is the most demoralising experience imaginable. Worst of all is imagining the very near future as the climate disasters really kick in and speculating as to what the reaction of the Rightwing genocidaires will be.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    One would think that people like the Kochs would fight better when they are beaten. Instead, they panic, falling apart before our eyes, and showing the world what they have been all along,

  7. Raul M. says:

    Clear sky noon projection for Hawaii UV rays is at 12 for today.
    That’s extreme.
    Better to keep your eyesight. Science is determining the why of UV damage being permanent and cumulative over time.

  8. Dave says:

    There is another possibility. While it is inconvenient to lose some of the corporate sponsors that have left, the real money behind Heartland is coming from the fossil fuels energy companies. These companies have more than enough cash to make up from any loss in funding. The real goal of Heartland is climate change disinformation to thwart political action. This latest smear campaign may not have been effective, but they are not going to back away from anything they say about climate scientists, no matter how much beyond the pale. It is in their DNA.

    The stakes are too high for the dirty energy companies for them to behave like rational beings. Their only ethic is money. What their actions do to the planet and future generations is of no concern to them.

    We need to look at these dirty energy corporations as predators and treat them as such.

  9. Mike Roddy says:

    I agree, Dave. A local prosecutor from a state like Vermont or Minnesota should bring charges of public endangerment.