CNSNews.com' response to Virgin Islands attorney general Claude Walker subpoenaing the right-wing think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute about its relationship with ExxonMobil, and that company's alleged suppression of evidence that climate change is driven by fossil fuels, was not to do any reporting on it -- surprising, since it claims to be a "news" organization and all.
No, what CNS did is publish a bunch of op-eds defending climate change denialism in general and CEI in particular. This week alone, CNS has published at least four op-eds.
Hans Bader -- identified only as someone who "practices law in Washington, D.C." -- declared the the subpoena is "raising red flags under the First Amendment" and the investigation of ExxonMobil itself is "a threat to climate science and the First Amendment."
Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation ranted that "a truly outrageous abuse of his authority and a misuse of the law," asserted that "CEI is well-known for its high-quality, objective research on energy and climate issues," went Godwin by calling Walker a part of the "Axis," and declared that " What is happening to ExxonMobil and to the Competitive Enterprise Institute is persecution." Von Spakovsky slobbered over Exxon:
Walker is using a criminal statute designed to go after major drug dealers and mob organizations to go after a company that produces the gasoline and diesel fuel that Americans (and the rest of the world) use in their cars, trucks, boats, lawnmowers, and other equipment of every kind. And ExxonMobil and CEI are being targeted for having taken what these legal barons consider the wrong side of a scientific theory that is being actively debated and questioned.
The fact that ExxonMobil produces a relatively cheap, reliable energy source that helps power our world but is disfavored by Progressives and their political representatives like Walker seems to be what the company is really guilty of.
The Heritage Foundation's Kim Holmes asserted that the subpoena and other actions against Exxon are "blatant attempts to bend the law ... to shut down free and open research. It is but another example of the new illiberal attempt by progressive liberals to use the power of the law to intimidate and coerce those with whom they disagree." Holmes ignores that there's precedent for such action: As Media Matters' Denise Robbins notes, then-Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican, demanded that the University of Virginia provide emails and other documents from climate scientist Michael Mann, which were also sought by the American Tradition Institute, whose senior director of litigation, Chris Horner, was also a senior fellow at CEI.
Holmes also claimed that "It is possible that CEI was being targeted by Walker precisely because one of its attorneys, Hans Bader, had criticized New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who was leading the campaign." Funny, Bader did not disclose his relationship with CEI in his CNS op-ed.
CNS, finally, published an op-ed from a disclosed CEI employee. Kent Lassman, CEI's president, ranted:
It is not and cannot become a crime to disagree with a government official. Somewhere along the line, dissent from orthodoxy has transformed from a uniquely American virtue to a crime. This subpoena is a blatant attack on CEI’s First Amendment rights of free speech and association. It threatens the rights of anyone who holds opinions different from those with the power of the federal or state governments behind them.
What other issues are next on the taboo list? If the attorneys general succeed, we can be assured this list will vary from election to election—something for all people of good conscience to dread.
The audacity of this legal action is profound. George Orwell’s dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” described “crimethink” as entertaining thoughts unacceptable to the government.
And, of course, Lassman tries to spin away climate change:
While global warming could pose challenges, we do not believe it is a planetary emergency. We are deeply concerned that national and global campaigns to tax, regulate, and ban fossil fuels are an expensive exercise in futility. Our policy work rests on the scientifically supported view that affordable, plentiful, and reliable fossil fuels make the world safer and the environment more livable. Further, we hold the humanitarian view that affordable energy should be accessible to those who most need it, especially in developing economies.
The biggest problem with proposals to address alleged, rapid warming is that there is no realistic implementation plan. Taken out of the context of international meetings and put to the practical tests of real-world economics, they do not work. Coal, oil, and natural gas supply 80 percent of the world's energy. Finding substantial emissions reductions from these three fuels using available technologies, such as wind and solar power, is a very expensive dead end.
As we have seen for hundreds of years, modern societies develop the technologies and resources to address environmental challenges, whatever the cause. Unlike some of our climate-alarmist friends, at CEI we think the record of human ingenuity is pretty strong. Innovation and adaptation can surmount the largest challenges when individuals are provided circumstances to promote human flourishing.
None of these op-eds address the actual reasoning behind the subpoena. As InsideClimate News explained, Exxon had an "emerging understanding of climate change science in the 1970s," but then subsequently worked to "undermine the scientific consensus, in part by financing research organizations including CEI."
Why would CNS do any actual reporting when it can published opinion pieces, two of whom are by interested parties?