On today's BradCast we'd be delighted to NOT cover Donald Trump. But, frankly, as annoying as it is, that would be journalistic malpractice for a number of reasons. We discuss the journalists' dilemma in covering Election 2016, and try our best to otherwise focus today on substance that both matters and is otherwise being ignored by the corporate media amidst the madness. [Audio link is posted below.]
To that end, the U.S. Dept. of Justice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department in the wake of the 2015 Freddie Gray killing sets off troubling, if all too familiar, alarm bells. Nonetheless, the findings represent yet another success of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Then Carroll Muffett of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) joins us to discuss startling new revelations from their "Smoke & Fumes" investigation detailing a treasure trove of old tobacco industry documents illustrating that Big Oil did not, in fact, model their decades of science denial after Big Tobacco. As it turns out, it was Big Tobacco who lifted their playbook from Big Oil!
Over the past year we've covered the explosive discovery of company documents revealing that Exxon knew of the dangers of man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuels as early as the 1970s, and began secretly funding climate science denial organizations not long thereafter. But CIEL's new investigation now details how some 100 recently-noticed documents unearthed from among 14 million at the Tobacco Archives (a public University of California website database of industry documents made available via U.S. smoking and health litigation) offer jaw-dropping revelations suggesting Big Oil's anti-science scam actually began as long ago as the late 1940s. That work resulted in collusion with the tobacco industry in the 50s, to seemingly help avoid accountability and legislation --- no matter the cost to the public --- that might cut into profits for both industries.
"The [tobacco industry's] 'Smoke and Fumes Committee' had its genesis in the oil industry's efforts to respond to bad press, bad science, and the risk of regulations resulting from the L.A. smog crisis of the late 1940s and early 1950s," Muffett explains. "So, in late 1946, a group of oil industry executives came together and decided that they needed to create a joint effort to fund pollution science, and then combine that pollution science with an active PR effort that was designed to shape the public's opinion on the science related to environmental issues and air pollution issues."
"The tobacco companies themselves, when they were looking at how to develop their own deception campaigns around smoking, looked again and again and again to the oil industry for people, for models, and even for advice," he tells me, describing what has been found in the documents so far. "The links between the industries were far more extensive than we ever anticipated. What was truly novel in what we found was that it's not that Oil is the new Tobacco but that Tobacco was at one time the new Oil."
We go on to discuss how the recent discoveries are likely to effect ongoing investigation and litigation into ExxonMobil's deceitful practices by more than a dozen state Attorneys General; the "completely unprecedented" nature of U.S. House Republicans on the Science Committee attempting to intimidate those AGs and environmental groups with subpoenas; and the accompanying irony of the fossil fuel industry attempting to hide behind constitutional First Amendment protections for fraudulent practices (a tactic which failed when Big Tobacco used a similar defense during litigation in the 80s and 90s.)
Hope you'll take a few minutes off from your daily (hourly?) Trump fix to listen to today's fascinating and important conversation.
Then --- because we know you still need a fix --- Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, covering energy policies of Trump and Clinton, and a very encouraging climate precedent just established by a federal court...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)