Noel Sheppard's Very Convenient Lie
The NewsBusters blogger has repeatedly asserted -- without any real evidence -- that Al Gore is only in global warming activism for the money. Will he put up or shut up?
By Terry Krepel
Noel Sheppard despises Al Gore -- so much that he's willing to spread lies about him.
ConWebWatch has previously documented examples of the animus the NewsBusters associate editor has for the former vice president, particularly on the issue of global warming. Sheppard has smeared Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" as a "schlockumentary," an "award-winning abomination" and a "farcical political advertisement"; Sheppard has also misled his readers by repeating claims that a British court found the film had errors in it without also noting the court found that many of the film's claims were fully backed up by the weight of science -- specifically that its four main hypotheses were "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change].”
But through all of this, Sheppard has been spreading a claim he has made no effort to back up with real evidence: that Gore has become an environmental activist in order to get rich.
One early appearance of this assertion came in a February 2007 NewsBusters comment thread: "He's a charlatan who doesn't believe in anything but himself and attaining power. And, he's commiting a fraud on the population for his own benefit, not yours, and certainly not mine."
It's a claim Sheppard has made numerous times in various forms over the past year:
While Sheppard cites the "irrefutable evidence" he has been "chronicling," his alleged evidence is circumstantial at best, if not outright misleading.
For instance, as support for his claim that Gore is only in it for the money, Sheppard has pointed out that Gore has "made upwards of $100 million since the 2000 elections," variously citing articles by Fast Company and ABCNews.com as evidence. But the Fast Company article (as does the ABC article) tells a different story about where Gore's money came from:
In addition to the steady flow of six-figure speaking gigs, he has become an insider at two of the hottest companies on the planet: at Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), where he signed on as an adviser in 2001, pre-IPO (and received stock options now reportedly worth north of $30 million), and at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), where he joined the board in 2003 (and got stock options now valued at about $6 million). He enjoyed a big payday as vice chairman of an investment firm in L.A., and, more recently, started a cable-television company and an asset-management firm, both of which are becoming quiet forces in their fields.
What the article makes clear -- but Sheppard never does -- is that much of this wealth has nothing at all to do with Gore's global warming activism. Not Google, not Apple, not the investment-firm work, not the TV company, which operates the cable channel Current. The asset-management firm, which focuses on "sustainability values," is arguably global warming-related.
Fast Company also makes clear that even Gore's global warming activism was not a money-maker until recently, making it unlikely that he got into it for purposes of creating a cash cow:
His most public effort was dusting off a slide show on global warming he had put together in 1989. It was full of depressing data about melting ice caps and killer hurricanes--not a likely vehicle to spark a resurrection. As recently as May 2004, he took some serious ribbing for presenting a version of it at an event timed to coincide with the goofy global-warming film The Day After Tomorrow. A few months later, when television producer turned environmental activist Laurie David invited her A-list pals to see the slide show, she had a hard time getting them to attend. "People were still mad about the election," she recalls. "And nobody cared about global warming."
So, until a couple years ago, Gore couldn't get arrested talking about global warming, let alone make some coin from it. Talk about an inconvenient truth.
Sheppard has been called on his lie before -- and given the extremely flimsy "evidence" he has served up this far to support it, as well as his long history of misleading about global warming, this can described as nothing else but a deliberate lie -- by no less than fellow conservative Dennis Miller. As ConWebWatch noted, in an October 2007 appearance on Miller's radio show, Sheppard asserted that Gore "realized, 'I can take this hysteria, turn this into a movie, and make millions of dollars.' And now, $100 million later, he's right." Miller reminded him: "Now, to be fair to him, I do believe that he had cobbled together a little, like, Stone Age equivalent of this slide show, as he called it, before then."
One has to wonder if there isn't a bit of jealousy in Sheppard's attacks on Gore, particularly this one; after all, Gore appears to have been much more successful in his business endeavors than Sheppard, who is listed in his NewsBusters bio as an "economist and business owner" -- which can't be paying all that much if he's having to toil away on a blog.
There's also the double standard factor that Sheppard refuses to acknowledge: if Gore is doing it for the Benjamins, it can also be argued that Sheppard is as well. As a titled editor at NewsBusters, the perch from which he hurls his smears, Sheppard is presumably on the MRC payroll. If Gore's wealth is such an issue, Sheppard should also reveal how much he's getting paid for his mercenary work of peddling falsehoods and distortions.
So, given that Sheppard has pushed this false claim even after Miller caught him doing it, it's time for him to put up or shut up.
If Sheppard is going to continue to make this claim, and it appears that he is, he needs to offer up substantial evidence -- no guilt by association or anonymous smears, please -- or retract it, admit that he's a liar, and apologize to Gore for falsely impugning him.
Waddaya say, Noel? Do you actually have the goods, or will you finally admit that you don't?