The New York Times sells its integrity to ExxonMobil with front-page ad that falsely asserts “Today’s car has 95% fewer emissions than a car from 1970”

Please email the NYT at about this egregious ad and/or email its public editor at to explain you are “concerned about the paper’s journalistic integrity.” Click image for full pic of the NYT’s June 16, 2009 front page.

These are hard times for the newspaper business. The paper of record has taken to running ads on the front page. But if they’re going to give up that precious real estate, home to many Pulitzer-Prize-winning stories, they simply can’t do it for this kind of disinformation, which is utterly misleading to the public.

Fuel for thought

Today’s car has 95% fewer emissions than a car from 1970.

Needless to say — or, rather, in this case, needful to say — while today’s car has lower emissions of urban air pollutants thanks to government regulation, today’s car has, if anything, higher emissions of greenhouse gases, which threaten the health and well-being of the next 50 generations. And needful to say, ExxonMobil has done more than just about any other company to undermine efforts to achieve the greenhouse gas regulations that could lower those emissions.

ExxonSecrets details the millions of dollars that the company has shoveled to fund the disinformation campaigns of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, all of which continue to advance unfactual anti-scientific attacks as I have detailed recently (see posts on Heritage and CEI and AEI). Chris Mooney wrote an excellent piece on ExxonMobil’s two-decade anti-scientific campaign. A 2007 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report looked at ExxonMobil’s tobacco industry-like tactics in pushing global warming denial (see “Today We Have a Planet That’s Smoking!”).

So it is especially egregious that the New York Times would take money to publish this disinformation on their front page. Had this been a news article, I do think that the NYT would never have published it, although they have certainly been running a lot of questionable stuff — see NYT suckered by ExxonMobil in puff piece titled “Green is for Sissies.”

And in the irony department, if you go to, as the ad urges, you’ll see … wait for it … a picture of a huge hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast, with the headline “Learn how ExxonMobil prepares and response to hurricanes.” How about “Learn how ExxonMobil works hard to make sure future hurricanes will be far more destructive” (see “Nature: Hurricanes ARE getting fiercer “” and it’s going to get much worse” and “Why future Katrinas and Gustavs will be MUCH worse at landfall, Part 2”)?

You can’t make this stuff up. Well, ExxonMobil can, and the New York Times will let them publish it — but you can’t make stuff up and publish it on the front-page of the New York Times because you don’t have the tens of thousands of dollars needed and frankly the NYT would probably subject your ad to more scrutiny.

Strangely, I have seen very little on the blogosphere on this travesty, even though it happened two days ago. I only found out about it because a reader sent me an email.

UPDATE: It is true that a given model of today’s car has better mpg than a comparable model from 1970, but, then again, it is driven much of farther — and, of course, the average passenger vehicle today is much larger. More relevantly, the improvement in mpg hasn’t come about because of anything ExxonMobil did to fuel formulation, whereas the refineries certainly do deserve some credit for achieving the regulated requirements for reduction in tailpipe air pollutants.

Please email the NYT at about this egregious piece and/or email its public editor at to explain you are “concerned about the paper’s journalistic integrity.”

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