The Hypocrisy of Heartland's 'DenialGate' Denial

The Heartland Institute/Screen capture

The Heartland Institute, one of the foremost promulgators of climate change skepticism, mistakenly emailed some sensitive documents to a stranger. Those documents included confidential budgetary outlines and strategy memos, which the anonymous stranger, calling himself 'Heartland Insider', turned over to the DeSmogBlog. Obviously, Heartland is deeply embarrassed for outing its secret donors (among them, Koch Industries, GM, and Microsoft), and for seeing its name in the conservative press connected to a 'DenialGate' scandal, as Politico called it.

But Heartland is not just embarrassed—it's angry as hell, and is attempting to re-appropriate its media machinery to cast blame on unscrupulous bloggers who had the audacity to post newsworthy documents or, you know, write about a breaking story.

Today, I received an email from Jim Lakeland Heartland's media officer touting the HI's latest press release, and I literally laughed out loud. The straight-faced hypocrisy contained in these paragraphs is simply stunning. This is from the first chunk of it, under the heading, "An Outrageous Violation of Ethics and Law":

All three organizations [DeSmog, Huffpo, and ThinkProgress] had to know the documents were stolen from The Heartland Institute, and should have but may not have realized that one document was a forgery. Two of the documents were plainly marked “confidential,” and they and other documents contained private and personally identifiable information.

Disregarding the law as well as basic ethics, and without making any attempt to confirm the authenticity of the documents, the three advocacy groups posted the documents on their Web sites and blogged about them.

“It was an outrageous violation of ethics and the law,” says Heartland President Joseph Bast. “It doesn’t matter what you believe about climate change, or if you are a liberal or a conservative. You ought to understand and denounce this unethical behavior.”

Did you hear that? The president of the Heartland Institute thinks that posting confidential documents online is "an outrageous violation of ethics and law". Here, Mr. Bast reveals himself to be either entirely shameless, or at the very least, entirely oblivious.

Heartland's onsite search engine turns back no fewer than 17 pages of search results from its own writings on an event it breathlessly calls "ClimateGate". Recall, if you will, what formed the basis for that dragged-out, overhyped debacle? Pilfered private documents; confidential emails sent between climate scientists. And not once, to my knowledge, did Heartland ever question the ethics of circulating those materials.

I honestly have no idea how Mr. Bast and his cohorts at Heartland are justifying this tack to themselves, or anyone else—it's rare that a double standard is this relentlessly impossible to ignore.

This post has been updated.

Tags: Global Climate Change

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