How many different times can Koch-backed RealClearEnergy push the same evidence-free fossil fuel report?

  • Published on November 7th, 2022

One of the tactics of public relations is to ask your friends to write an op-ed about a report you want to promote. They get to be seen as a respectable expert endorsing a product, so to speak, and you get that endorsement placed in a news outlet where people will learn about it.

Charles Koch by DonkeyHotey
Charles Koch (Image CC by DonkeyHotey on Flickr)

By Climate Denier Roundup

If you can get just a couple different people talking about something in different outlets, it can at least give the appearance of a groundswell of public support. But if the content is too transparently (self-)promotional, then legitimate news outlets are unlikely to publish the op-ed and you’ll end up with a bunch of drafts that no one with integrity would touch.

And that’s what appears to be the case with not one, not two, not even “three’s a pattern,” but four different op-eds published by RealClearEnergy, the bought-and-paid-for propaganda hub for the Koch network. Each one is by a climate disinformation professional, because that’s their talent pool, and each one promotes the recent RealClearEnergy report “Energy Inflation Was By Design” by energy industry consultant Joseph Toomey.

The gist? That Biden’s energy policies are to blame for high prices. Not record fossil fuel industry profits, not Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, not even that pesky global pandemic. Just Biden! No evidence, just vibes.

On October 16th, a Marlo Lewis op-ed claimed “expensive energy is a core feature, not a bug of Biden’s climate agenda,” and of the group, is the piece most obviously just pulling straight from the original report, listing out it’s claims in a way that makes it no surprise no other editor wanted it for any other publication not responsible for the promotion of that report, not even other disinfo outlets otherwise sympathetic to the message.

Seven days later, on October 23rd, RealClearEnergy ran a piece by “energy analyst” Jakob Puckett that follows the same formula: introduction, reference to Toomey’s report, list a bunch of the things Biden did that supposedly caused energy inflation (but not record fossil fuel industry profits…).

Then on October 26th, getting desperate, RealClearEnergy published Robert Bryce’s very creative op-ed: Joe Toomey’s Searing Indictment of President Biden’s Energy Policies. Since he put Toomey’s name in the headline, Bryce broke the mold, and waited all the way until the fourth paragraph to mention “RealClear Energy’s, “Energy Inflation Was by Design,” a new report by supply-chain consultant Joseph Toomey.”

And finally, on October 31st, Daniel Turner waxed poetic about pencils for two paragraphs before plugging “Joseph Toomey’s exhaustive and brilliant analysis of the Biden administration’s energy agenda.”

Now, sure, a key part of public relations is repetition, because most people aren’t going to see your message the first time, so you have to come at it from a lot of different angles. Which is why good PR involves tapping a diverse pool of spokespeople who can speak to all the various implications of a report, and what it means for their community or field of study.

But this is what happens when you do it poorly, and get four functionally identical, low-effort posts shamelessly promoting obvious disinformation. The only people who praise it are those who are also paid to spread disinformation, and the only place that considered those pieces worth publishing is the one with the obvious self-interest to do so.

(Originally appeared at DailyKos)

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