In today’s New York Times, reporter Leslie Kaufman profiles Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-OK) former climate change skeptic spokesman, Marc Morano, and the launch of his latest effort to distort and deny the science of climate change, ClimateDepot.com. Joe Romm responded at Climate Progress, “[T]he paper of record has decided to promote the new disinformation campaign of the least credible global warming denier in the country.”
It’s not entirely clear why Kaufman would give Morano such credulous treatment. As Kaufman herself points out, Morano began his career as a “reporter” for Rush Limbaugh, later launched the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign smearing Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and most recently earned $134,000 a year distributing false and inaccurate press releases for climate change denier Inhofe.
The Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson recently explained that under Inhofe, Morano constructed a “global warming denier propaganda machine.” More recently, Johnson explained that Morano will use that machine to power and promote his new venture. Still, Kaufman seems to suggest that Morano’s work on climate science is credible and even award-winning:
Mr. Morano is proud of his work, which he says is not advocacy but truth seeking.
“Even in the Senate, I’d put up any of the stories we did against any pablum Time or Newsweek has put out on global warming,” he said. “We’d link to the other side; we’d present their arguments. They do one-sided screeds.”
In 2007, he points out, the Republican Web site of Mr. Inhofe’s committee won an award from the independent Congressional Management Foundation.
Kaufman fails to note, however, that the criteria used by the Congressional Management Foundation to award Inhofe’s committee website its “Gold Mouse” award does not factor in the accuracy of the material presented. Rather, the group’s award focuses on issues related to website design and usability.
Morano’s new site, which is a part of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), as aims to “serve as a ‘clearinghouse and one-stop shopping’ for climate and environmental news.” But CFACT is “part of the Scaife network of conservative front groups, supported by the Richard Mellon Scaife family fortune and corporations like Exxon Mobil.” As Johnson put it, “Climate Depot is sure to fit seamlessly into Morano’s alternate-reality right-wing universe of Newsbusters, the Drudge Report, and Glenn Beck.” If today’s article is any indicator, perhaps the New York Times is ready to go along as well.