DenierGate: Forbes Op-Ed from Heartland Fellow Doubles-Down on Lobby Group’s Lost Irony

Heartland plays by the book - the tobacco and climate denial playbookIn response to the revelation the climate scientist Peter Gleick is behind last week’s scandalous “pranking” of the Heartland Institute, James Taylor, writing in Forbes, has declared the whole affair as an example of “global warming alarmist’ deceit and desperation.”  To be sure, Gleick actions are not condoned by many within (and without) the “alarmist” camp (a.k.a. climate scientists), despite Taylor’s assertions to the contrary.

Apparently, Gleick was anonymously sent a “strategy paper” that prompted Gleick to followup on its contents by acquiring internal documents from the Heartland Institute under an assumed identity. The Heartland Institute has feigned moral outrage, insisting that the strategy paper that prompted Gleick to acquire additional documents was a forgery, though line-by-line analysis of the contents of the memo even bring that into question.

Taylor gears up his followers into a frenzy of outrage that people would stoop to such low tactics, painting Gleick as a deceitful, dishonest, and desperate alarmist; using that same brush in an attempt to smear climate science and climate scientists in general. All this he does without any apparent sense of irony, despite the fact that Heartland has engaged in desperate, dishonest, and alarmist tactics for years. When thousands of emails were stolen from the University of East Anglia, Heartland was first in line to hail the action as good and right, proceeding then to consistently misrepresent the contents of the emails to further their own sagging, desperate, deceitful attempts to further their own agenda.

Despite numerous investigations finding no “smoking gun of deceit” in those emails, Taylor wastes no time in attacking “warmist” scientists. For him, it is okay to steal thousands of emails from climate scientists, but when Gleick makes a few documents available to the press (unethically), it is, for Taylor, illustrative of all the is deceitful and desperate about all climate scientists (er… “warmists”). Gleick has apologized for his actions, Taylor and Heartland double-down. All done without a whit of irony.

Taylor is himself no climate scientist. He is an attorney; trained to make arguments in support of an agenda. He argues that the “legitimate” documents exposed by Gleick only show the inner workings of an honest, forthright organization. Taylor makes no mention of the program to introduce Heartland-style controversy into school curricula, a plan spearheaded by David Wojick. Wojick holds a doctorate in epistemology and is not a climate scientist. But who better to educate our children about climate change and sustainability than a hand-picked, non-climate-scientist from the Heartland Institute?

Instead of actually being forthright in the actions and intentions of the Heartland Institute, Taylor goes on the attack. Not just of Gleick and his questionable actions, but of climate science itself, characterizing one unfortunate incident as a “scandal” exposing the global warming “movement” as desperate, delusional and “collapsing as global warming fails to live up to alarmist predictions.”

It’s unclear to me what world Taylor is living in, but his total lack of irony in making such statements is laughable.

In his Forbes piece, Taylor attempts to turn the tables by changing the “Deniergate” label to “Fakegate.”  Again, the irony seems lost on him.

Fakegate it is. I can think of no better way to describe the Heartland Institute.

Image credit: Climate Crocks
Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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