New York Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took to Twitter Friday to lament the demise of gossip news website Gawker. All the while he’s leading a nationwide effort to prosecute global warming skeptics.
Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our nation. Like them or not, sad to see NYC media giant @Gawker forced to the brink.
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) June 10, 2016
Gawker filed for bankruptcy protection Friday after losing a defamation lawsuit to wrestling legend Hulk Hogan, who was able to win a $140 million judgement from Gawker after the site published a sex tape he made.
Schneiderman’s standing up for the “freedom of the press” for Gawker comes as he leads a multi-state effort against ExxonMobil, dozens of conservative think tanks and scientists allegedly part of a grand plot to cover up global warming.
Schneiderman, along with three other attorneys general, are investigating Exxon’s funding of conservative groups amid claims from liberal journalists the company “knew” global warming was a problem in the 1970s.
State AG investigations come after months of being prodded by activists and Democratic lawmakers looking to spur a federal anti-racketeering investigation into Exxon and other groups challenging President Barack Obama’s position on global warming.
The irony was not lost on many Twitter users.
— Scott Shackford (@SShackford) June 10, 2016
— Brad Johnson (@brad_dallas) June 10, 2016
— (((Andy S.))) (@wildcatlh) June 10, 2016
— Michael Martínez (@amcynic) June 10, 2016
Schneiderman is specifically focused on how Exxon represented the risks of global warming to shareholders in its annual reports. He’s trying to sell it as an investigation into shareholder fraud, and has even suggested jailing skeptics.
“Financial damages alone may be insufficient,” Schneiderman recently said during the event in New York City. “The First Amendment does not give you the right to commit fraud.”
Schneiderman’s Exxon probe, however, has been heavily criticized by legal experts, including liberal law professors.
Merritt Fox, a professor of law at Columbia Law School, recently said he didn’t think Exxon had broken any laws. He was also skeptical of claims Exxon somehow knew more about global warming than the rest of the world and then covered it up.
“It’s not, I don’t know what the documents would discover, but I’d be kind of amazed if what the Exxon scientists knew was so different from what other scientists outside Exxon knew and were publicly available that it would change that total mix in a significant way,” he said.
There are also major free speech concerns.
“We should all be concerned when state prosecutors announce that they will be targeting Americans for their views on controversial issues like climate change,” David Rivkin, Jr., a constitutional litigator with decades of experience, recently said.
“No prosecutor could ever win a conviction consistent with the First Amendment based on the attorney generals’ bogus climate ‘cover-up’ conspiracy,” Rivkin said. “The fact that this investigation was launched with a press conference confirms that the whole point is to intimidate and chill speech.”
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