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Greens Use PR Firm To Fix Image After Academics Suggest Prosecuting Skeptics

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A spinmeister for an environmentalist-themed public relations firm said a letter by academics asking President Barack Obama to investigate global warming skeptics was “a big mistake” and reflects poorly on those pushing climate action.

Philip Newell, a media manager for Climate Nexus, described the letter as a mistake, and suggested the 20 professors who sent it to target oil producers and the oil industry, not particular individuals, according to emails obtained Wednesday by The Washington Times.

Newell referenced global-warming-skeptical news coverage of the letter as one of the reasons for a change in dialogue. “It’s definitely looking like this issue isn’t going to go away,” Newell wrote in the email. “Even if you remove the letter, which I hear has been done and I would say is a big mistake.”

The letter, which was co-authored by 20 academics from across the spectrum, was first posted on Institute for Global Environment and Security (IGES) website, which was later removed, but not before it went viral.

“I’d recommend you keep it up and point to it as a call for investigating (not prosecuting) organizations and companies (not specific scientists) in an oped or simply a statement on the IGES website that clarifies that distinction,” Newell said in the email.

The letter stated that “RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.”

Jagadish Shukla, a professor of meteorology from George Mason University and one of the co-authors of the letter, was accused by Climate Audit in a Sept. 28 report called “Shukla’s Gold” of receiving money from both George Mason and the IGES, which itself benefited from millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the free market group Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), said Wednesday the email shows the authors used  “spin and deception” to dispel criticism their letter torched freedom of speech. Virgin Island Attorney General Claude E. Walker issued a subpoena a month after the letter was published asking for the communications of CEI, scientists and oil producer Exxon Mobil.

“When they had the opportunity to define the universe of political opponents — past or present — on whom they sought to sic law enforcement, they did so. It blew up,” Horner said. “So they turned to spinmeisters to help them convince people to disbelieve their lyin’ eyes when reading the RICO-20 letter.”

Newell suggested in the internal emails changing the narrative, moving from blasting individual skeptics to going after companies.

“At this point there needs to be a link people can point to showing that the denier’s ‘Perp walk’ language and the focus on individual scientists is simply not accurate, that your compensation is fair and justified, and that refocuses attention on the real issue: corporate sponsorship of denial,” Newell said.

The RICO-20 letter was posted shortly before InsideClimate News, a group receiving heavy financial funding from the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), published a report called “Exxon: The Road Not Taken,” which accused the oil company of misleading shareholders and the public on global warming.

Lee Wasserman, the director of the RFF, admitted in March to using InsideClimate News “to better understand how the fossil fuel industry was dealing with the reality of climate science internally and publicly.”

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