One of the wealthiest oil families in the U.S. admitted to financially backing various media outfits for the sole purpose of targeting the fossil fuel industry, according to the website Energy In Depth (EID).
Lee Wasserman, the director of the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), told Reuters March 23 the fund “supported public interest journalism to better understand how the fossil fuel industry was dealing with the reality of climate science internally and publicly.”
Wasserman said ExxonMobil was not singled out when it donated $25,000 to InsideClimate News.
The admission was tucked away, the EID reports, inside a report stating the RFF is now in the process of divesting all fossil fuel and ExxonMobil assets.
The Columbia School of Journalism, which published reports alleging Exxon hid under a shroud of darkness when internal research showed rising sea levels were due to man-made global warming, has insisted the contributions it received from the RFF, as well as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), are independent from its research on climate change.
“The fact is that this reporting was not subject to any influence or control by the funders,” Steve Coll, the dean of the Graduate School at Columbia School of Journalism, told the Columbia Journalism Review in December, 2015.
During its initial reports, published in the Los Angeles Times in September, 2015, the school noted the reporters’ names but did not disclose where the money came from to conduct the research.
The LA Times eventually edited the report to reflect RFF and RBF’s contributions to the research.
“Wasserman said the grant to Inside Climate News was made without any knowledge that it would be used for the reporting project,” the Huffington Post reported last week.
The Columbia Journalism School contributions, according to the Huffington Post report, were directed toward researching the fossil fuel industry to disclose how much it knew about the science of climate change and whether it intended on hiding that information from the public.
The revelation landed like a thud on Louisiana Republican Sen. [crscore]David Vitter[/crscore]’s desk.
Vitter criticized the Rockefellers in a statement Monday to The Daily Caller News Foundation, calling the Rockefellers a “Billionaire’s Club” pushing left-wing agendas.
Vitter added: “Having gotten away with it for so long, it’s not at all surprising to see members of the Billionaire’s Club loftily admit that they are using money to further control the anti-energy, anti-jobs rhetoric through the media.”
Shortly after the InsideClimate News and Columbia Journalism School reports, Democrats began pushing Congress to form an investigation against the fossil fuel industry for allegedly “spreading disinformation about climate science.”
Vitter was the chairman of the Senate committee that disclosed Columbia’s energy major donators in a report released in July, 2014, by Senate Republicans on the “Billionaire’s Club,” a group of wealthy philanthropists who target the fossil fuel industry.
“It’s no secret that big liberal money is funding the so-called grassroots environmental movement to block domestic energy production, and in turn, kill American jobs,” Vitter told TheDCNF in November, 2015, shortly after the committee’s revelations.
“They’ve funneled money into ‘local’ advocacy groups, and they’ve shared employees with the Obama EPA — in an underhanded effort to shut everyday Americans out of policy and politics,” Vitter added at the time.
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