Michael Eckhart apologizes to Marlo Lewis — or does he?

Dear Marlo:

I’ve received quite a lot of correspondence from people around the country about my July 13 email to you, and they have persuaded me how wrong I was.

No matter that I thought I was fighting for Free Speech and against what I saw as Paid Speech, I had no right in our American system of freedoms to threaten your career over it. As a moderate-conservative who believes in the Constitution and all it stands for, and as a moderate-liberal who believes that there are important issues to be addressed in making our society better, I was wrong to attack you. It was against my own principles. I apologize to you personally.

At a professional level, the matter took root two years ago when you said me that you believe that global warming is occurring, that you are personally a bit concerned about it, and that you could actually make a compelling argument either way, but that you were compelled to argue against global warming because you are against big government. I was very unhappy to see this occurring. Let’s put this aside if you are willing.

I ask you now, after these two years have passed and more has been learned, five questions:

1) Based on all of your study, do you personally believe that global warming is occurring (yes, no, or probabilities one way or the other)? 2) Do you believe that human actions are contributing to it, and, if so, how much? 3) Do you advise that action or inaction is the best course of action for society? That is, what is the upside and the risk of error for action versus inaction? 4) If you recommend that society take action, what specific strategies would you support? 5) Are there any strategies that are smart for society to pursue in any case?

I don’t mean to pin you or trick you in any way. I truly would like to know where you stand on this.

I’ve responded to every email, and many have come back expressing a desire to see us work out a solution. I’m agreeable to doing that.

Please post this letter on your blog, as I’d like your followers to know that I’ve apologized to your personally and am seeking a resolution of the issues with you. Thank you.


Michael Eckhart

Dear Mike,

I would be happy to accept a complete and genuine apology. However, I do not think yours measures up.

Your apology continues to cast aspersions on my character, although not blatantly as in your Eckhart Response to CEI. You say you now realize you flouted constitutional norms. However, as background, you say you thought you were defending Free Speech against Paid Speech. This distinction implies that I am a mere mouthpiece of paying clients—an allegation made more directly in your email of Sep. 06 (about which your apology is silent), in which you threatened to shut CEI down unless we recant our views on global warming. By repeating that allegation without retracting it, you put it back in play.

Similarly, your apology does not retract the accusation—also made in Eckhart Response to CEI—that I am a liar and you can prove it because I told you so. Nor does it retract the claim that I am out to destroy environmentalists’ careers and, hence, that you were just responding in kind when you threatened to destroy my career.

That is the naughty schoolboy defense: “You started!” Well, no, I didn’t. I would no more tell you that I seek to destroy environmentalists’ careers than I would tell you I lie. Both allegations are outrageous falsehoods. You have not apologized for making those statements.

And how is it that I supposedly destroy environmentalists’ careers? In Eckhart Response to CEI, you say I do this not by attacking environmentalists as people but by criticizing their “underlying assumptions.” Apparently, you confuse refutation with defamation. Thus, apparently, because I questioned your assumptions in this column, and in our subsequent Debate on Energy and Environment TV, you felt entitled to attack me as a person. A policy advocate who cannot tell the difference between refutation and character assassination, challenging assumptions and defaming persons, is bound to flout the rules of civil discourse in the very way you did.

Your apology says I told you I “could actually make a compelling argument either way, but that you were compelled to argue against global warming because you are against big government.” Of course I can make a persuasive case for the other side; if I couldn’t, I also could not make a persuasive case for my side! To construe this as an admission of intellectual dishonesty is another slur.

I therefore feel no obligation to satisfy your curiosity, if that is what it is. Indeed, you posed similar interrogatories before we debated on E&E TV. In retrospect, your only purpose was to “trick” and “pin.” If you are genuinely curious about CEI’s views on climate and energy, I suggest you read the documents (here and here) that elicited your threats.


Marlo Lewis