Left-wing Media Matters Publishes Dubious Report on Our WSJ Op-Ed; We Correct the Worst Stuff

The left-wing spin outfit Media Matters is attempting to undercut an op-ed published today in the Wall Street Journal written by the National Center’s Jeff Stier and food writer Julie Kelly.

You can read the Wall Street Journal piece here.

In the interest of accuracy:

    • Media Matters’ sub-headline reads: “Co-Author Works For Fossil Fuel-Funded National Center for Public Policy Research.” Putting that in the present tense is spin. Media Matters has no idea if we are presently receiving funding from the fossil fuel industry. One reason it does not know is that it did not bother to ask. In fact, we have not received any such funding in years.
    • Media Matters notes that once upon a time we received grants from ExxonMobil. What it does not tell the lemmings who eat and believe every word it spins was that we have not received such funding in years — George W. Bush was still president — and that we stopped getting funding because ExxonMobil told us it would not continue funding us unless we switched our position on global warming to the alarmist position (aka, that held by Media Matters). We declined to change our position for a grant. Now is there any sane person who would not consider this fact relevant? But Media Matters left it out, although 1) we’ve made it public; 2) ExxonMobil makes all its grants public, so Media Matters must know perfectly well we have not received ExxonMobil funding in years, and 3) ExxonMobil’s decision to stop funding groups working on climate that the left does not like for that reason is very well known. Anyone competent covering this issue would know this.
    • Media Matters calls Donors Trust, which has contributed to us, “a dark money group.” Spin for the lemmings again! Donors Trust is in fact a donor-advised fund, like this one run by Fidelity, this one run by Vanguard, this one run by Schwab, and many others. Note the reasons listed on these pages why donors would use a donor-advised fund, such as the reasons on the Fidelity page. They are practical money-management reasons, and the ability to make one’s gift into so-called “dark money” is not one of them. Donor-advised funds are in fact a big thing in the charitable giving world, with $12.49 billion dollars given to qualified charities by donor-advised funds in 2014 alone. Donor advised funds are not new (they’ve been around for 80 years) and they aren’t rare (there are more an a thousand of them). I assure everyone that $12.49 billion did not go to conservative groups and causes. In fact, this money was donated across the board to medical, humanitarian, educational and other charities in addition to those in the public policy field, of all ideological persuasions, which would represent but a very tiny percentage of all gifts. Public policy is important to us, but its not big in philanthropy.

Media Matters adds that Donors Trust “receives large donations from groups connected to the oil billionaire Koch brothers.” This is just an extraneous effort to connect us to the Koch Brothers without any information actually connecting us to the Koch Brothers. What this says in plain English is that Media Matters believes groups with board members it links to the Koch brothers or Koch organizations, and allegedly the Charles G. Koch Foundation itself, have accounts at Donors Trust or used to (accounts made within are not “donations,” by the way; the donations are the gifts made by those accounts to qualified charities). That’s all. This says nothing about what donations and to whom have been made from those accounts, if any (donors can leave the funds in the accounts at their discretion). Media Matters has no information that we are receiving Koch funding, and has ignored previously-published information that we aren’t, yet seemingly wanted to trick the lemmings into thinking that we are without actually saying so.

In fact, Media Matters has never asked us about the funds we get from Donors Trust or anything else about our funding. Most of the funds we get from Donors Trust are from accounts of the estates of deceased individuals — individuals who were not affiliated in their lifetimes with the fossil fuel industry. Zero Donors Trust donations to us have come from corporations in any industry or fossil fuel interests, and we are happy to state right now for the record that none have come from ExxonMobil or affiliated foundations or from the Koch brothers as individuals or their affiliated organizations/corporations (even though we’d be perfectly happy if they did, as we like the Koch Brothers, and we are ExxonMobil shareholders and customers, for Pete’s sake). So I guess our Donors Trust “dark money” is dark no longer — but will Media Matters acknowledge this?

  • Media Matters cites as “false” our reporting, for years and years now, and very, very correct, that limitations on cheaper energy sought by the climate activists would hurt the poor. Really, this is Economics 101. Raising the price of a staple need people have, whether it is energy, food, health care or housing, is going to hurt the poor more than the rich or middle class because the poor have less money. Media Matters is stupid to argue this point. They singled out this quote, from our Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen, speaking on Al Jazeera:
    “Millions of Catholics live in parts of the world which are very vulnerable,” noted Cohen. “What we really don’t want to do, I think, is impose policies that would deny these people access to electricity or make their access to electricity more difficult. That’s where I think the Pope has to be very very careful here, because if he favors policies that will ultimately put some of the good things about the modern life out of the reach of the most vulnerable, he will ultimately wind up perpetuating poverty and putting himself behind policies that will lead to shorter life expectancies, and that’s not something I think any of us want.”

    Seriously, Media Matters disagrees with this? How?

  • Finally, the Media Matters article missed the point on what we were doing at Apple, inasmuch as Tim Cook was fighting a shareholder proposal we submitted trying to get to the bottom of how Apple seemingly evaded the green standards of an electronics rating agency for its laptops. I’m starting to give up on that one. People want to believe Tim Cook and Apple are green, and so they do. But as I wrote at the time, “Tim Cook didn’t get paid some $40 million in 2013 because he’s an environmentalist, but he is more valuable to Apple when he plays one on TV.” We’ve got perhaps as many as few thousand nasty emails from Apple’s fans (an astonishing number with the f-word in them) blasting us for even asking about the laptop ratings, but our shareholder proposal could have been submitted by Greenpeace, it was so green.Here’s what one writer, Tim Worstall, who got what we were up to (unlike many obtuse ones), wrote at the time about our effort to get Tim Cook to be straightforward:
    Therefore, when Cook is asked by some activist [the National Center’s Justin Danhof] why he’s wasting money on greenery and not running the company purely for profit Cook cannot tell him the truth. That the company is being run for profit as it only does that amount of greenery that improves the profit margin and it most certainly doesn’t do anything that actually costs. For that would be to defeat the objective of doing the little that is being done.

    Yep. So Tim Cook changed the subject to making technology accessible to the blind (not a green issue), lost his temper or pretended to, and fooled those who chose to be fooled, which apparently includes Media Matters. Not us, though.

The Media Matters page does not include an email address for contacting the writer of the piece, Denise Robbins, which is a way to avoid complaints, I suppose. It does include her Twitter address. I noticed with amusement that one of her most recent tweets, posted today, criticizes another party for misspelling a person’s name. If only Media Matters’ errors were so innocent!

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.