Senator “Which Way” Whitehouse Can’t Decide Whether #ExxonKnows

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) on Monday introduced a “Web of Denial” concurrent resolution, which “condemns groups who have misled the public on tobacco, lead, and climate.” According to their press release, “The actions taken by ExxonMobil and other big oil companies may have imperiled all of humanity through their massive campaign of deception to confuse the public and lawmakers as to the truth of climate science.”

Thus, the “Web of Denial” campaign is expressly targeting Exxon’s “deceit” on climate change science. With this in mind, consider the following excerpt from Sen. Whitehouse’s floor speech in support of the resolution:

“[T]he Wall Street Journal consistently highlights voices of those with vested interests in fossil fuels … Into this failure of journalistic responsibility by the Wall Street Journal editorial page has stepped in the Partnership for Responsible Growth, which is running a 12-part ad series in the Wall Street Journal right on the editorial page to bring accurate mainstream climate science to the readers of this publication’s opinion pages. The first one reads: “Exxon’s CEO says fossil fuels are raising temperatures and sea levels. Why won’t the Wall Street Journal?” …. These straightforward, broadly accepted statements may be the first honest words about climate change on the Wall Street Journal editorial pages …” (formatted by author; quotations omitted)

Do you see what Whitehouse did there? In an effort to shame the Wall Street Journal, he relied on the admission by Exxon’s CEO that global warming is happening. This is nonsensical given that the entire point of his “Web of Denial” shtick is to claim Exxon is defrauding the public.

Sen. Whitehouse’s confusion over Exxon isn’t the only indication that there’s a dearth of thoughtfulness behind "Web of Denial.” After his floor speech in support of the effort, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was approached by Hannah Ness of the trade publication Greenwire. For the uninitiated, Greenwire is generally a solid publication, when it doesn’t wear its progressive sensibilities on its sleeve. In light of Greenwire’s sometimes conspicuous leanings, it is hilarious that Sen. Schumer asked Hess whether Greenwire is funded by the Koch Brothers.

My colleague Marlo Lewis has written an excellent critique of other parts of Sen. Whitehouse’s statements.