Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Busy again | Main | Nordhaus and the sixteen »

Koch fights back

The Charles Koch Foundation has issued a strongly worded denunciation of the New York Times' reporting of the Fakegate affair.

One might expect the Times to have some chagrin about its reporting that was based on material obtained by fraud, motivated by an ulterior ideological agenda, and suspect in its authenticity.  Yet even though that source lied, cheated, and stole – and refuses to answer any further question from the Times or anyone – reporter Andrew Revkin nonetheless found room to praise him, writing, “It’s enormously creditable that Peter Gleick has owned up to his terrible error in judgment.”  Readers would be right to wonder if the Times itself is able to own up to mistakes on this story.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (60)

... editor Nancy Kenney replied a day later to ask if we could be “more explicit” (correspondence attached below). A public statement from the Charles Koch Foundation had been out for days at that point and the authenticity of the document the Times relied on had been disavowed by Heartland and thoroughly discredited by other news outlets. Yet, the Times would not update or clarify the story to include these facts.

Ouch. Respect, you sons of Fred Koch, chemical engineer and entrepeneur extraordinaire.

Feb 29, 2012 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I don't have the time right now to go through all the details of the Koch's reporting on this, but as someone who spends a fair amount of time reading about the Koch Brother's political acitivities, I would like to point out one clarification here. Some people may describe this as an error rather than a clarification, I'll allow the readers to be the judge.

The Koch statement refers to the reference to a $200,000 gift from the Charles G. Koch Foundation to the the Heartland Institute in 2012 as being "demonstrably false" and mentions that "the authenticity of the document the Times relied on had been disavowed by Heartland." In fact, Heartland has disavowed the authenticity of the so-called "Strategy Memo" only. The "Fundraising Plan," which was also released, has not been disavowed by the Heartland Foundation, and on page 22 of that document one can clearly see a reference to a $200,000 donation from the Koch Foundation for 2012. Two weeks following the release of these documents, we are still waiting for Heartland's word on the authenticity of the remaining 100 pages that are out there.

Feb 29, 2012 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil C

The New York Times is the nearest US Equivalent to the Guardian and its JOurnalists and articles are much quoted by our very own BBC. Apologise, correct mistakes...........

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Phil, as has been widely reported, the $200,000 was what Heartland hoped to get from the Charles G. Koch Foundation in 2012. Are you really saying the foundation and HI are both lying in stating that the only donation in the last ten years has been $25,000 for education? Whatever you reading about the Koch Brother's political acitivities, what evidence do you have for calling that a lie?

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Phil C My company has a fundraising plan for 2012 with a line in it for €250,000 from the EU, we haven't told the EU yet....

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

I have a "fundraising plan" for 2012 as well.
I call it a "plan" because it sets out for my benefit what I am "planning" to do. If I had already done it I would not need to call it a plan.
Likewise I understand that Heartland has a plan which includes $200K from Koch. I assume that this money has not yet been paid and that Heartland would like, or hope, or have reason to believe that Koch will deliver this sum.
So far all we have any evidence of is $25K which was specifically not for climate change lobbying.
Now exactly which part of all that are you having problems with?
I could add that if I were in Koch's position, given Gleick's reprehensible and probably illegal behaviour for which there is no justification and the equally dishonest reporting by the NYT and the usual suspects in the blogosphere, not to mention the sort of subliminal wittering from people like yourself, I'd not only be putting my signature on the cheque right away I might even be looking for other ways of supporting Heartland.
And any other legal organisation prepared to stand up to bullies which is, in essence, what Gleick and his misguided supporters are.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

All I'm saying is it's in Heartland's plan, not that the the Koch grant has been made. And I said nothing about climate change. This stuff is out there. Heartland can clear it all up if they want to.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil C

Heartland have cleared that up, you chump. The insinuations really are wearing terribly thin by now.

But I learned something new from Koch central. This is from Wikipedia:

A lead paragraph in literature refers to the opening paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. Often called just "the lead", it usually occurs together with the headline or title, it precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story.

In the news journalism industry, particularly in the United States, the particular news styles of lead are sometimes referred to by the neologism lede.

Lede. That's cool.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Phil C

Are you blind, or just being deliberately obtuse?

Anyone who has followed this story knows that Heartland has stated quite clearly that the only contribution received from the Koch Brothers was for $25,000 - and was earmarked specdifically for thir work on health issues - it is coded that way along with other donations to Heartland's health programme.

Spin away all you like - Revkin and the New York Times behaved very badly - as so often before.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Anderson

The Koch press release to the NYT says this:

The article stated, “The documents say that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation…was expected to contribute $200,000 this year [to Heartland Institute].” That is demonstrably false"<.blockquote>
As Phil C has pointed, this is NOT demonstrably false - if fact, the idea that it is possible to demonstrate that an expectation that is clearly in the funding plan is false is almost demonstrably false itself.

This instant attack on Phil C because he just might have said something off message is what I expect on DeSmogBlog or RealClimate, not here.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Format all wrong above - try again.

The Koch press release to the NYT says this:

The article stated, “The documents say that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation…was expected to contribute $200,000 this year [to Heartland Institute].” That is demonstrably false"

As Phil C has pointed out, this is NOT demonstrably false - if fact, the idea that it is possible to demonstrate that an expectation that is clearly in the funding plan is false is almost demonstrably false itself.

This instant attack on Phil C because he just might have said something off message is what I expect on DeSmogBlog or RealClimate, not here.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Why doesn't Koch put a full page ad in the times presenting this information? The NYT is becoming a 503c organization focused on getting Obama re-elected.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterWindy

The New York Times wrote:

The documents say that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation…was expected to contribute $200,000 this year

'Expected to' was wrong. As Arthur Dent illustrated Entity A putting a line in a funding plan with Entity B giving $200,000 means nothing until Entity B has the chance to comment. And comment they did. Koch is right to complain about this and about the insinuation that this imaginary gift was all to do with climate change.

The NYT should have checked with Koch first and should have put the record straight by now.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I suppose I can see how it could be confusing, but with regards the "demonstrably" kerfuffle the way I read it is that Koch are mostly bothered about being treated like an all purpose Aunt Sally for climate evil to the surreal point that the NYT feel its ok to write an article *without* calling the Koch people on such an obvious subject that demands that as a minimum for jounalistic purposes, let alone courtesy.

So when NYT go ape over the Heartland expected donations they missed a chance to call Koch and have them say "First we heard of it".

I don't see Koch joined at the hip with HI here, they are not working for HI. They are asking why Koch are considered so unworthy to be called about a story that impinges on their image. Quite reasonably too. They may be filthy rich but that doesn't make 'em de facto untermenschen. Although in the modern world with its strange skewed hegemony of wealthy moralising eco elites they need the super rich to feel *superior* to.

Feb 29, 2012 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Those letters from Koch are just the start and the NYT has a real problem, retract or it goes to law.

"The classic first step is for the injured party to request a clarification or retraction from the publisher. If that isn’t complied with, then the next one is a letter from their lawyer. This will usually be replied to by the publisher’s legal representative. If nothing satisfactory can be agreed after an extensive exchange of letters, then it finally goes to court."


Feb 29, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

The article was disgraceful but I do think the Koch response is confused.

It was certainly wrong of the Times to say that Koch was "expected" to donate $200,000 in 2012: this sum was just a planned amount appearing in the HI Funding Document. However, the Koch Foundation takes a different tack, saying that "the authenticity of the document the Times relied on had been disavowed by Heartland". This would only be true if the Times had relied on the Strategy Document for their piece (the only document whose authenticity has been questioned), but that stated that Koch had donated the $200,000 in 2011, which is not what the Times wrote. I can't understand why they should make such a mess of a response they have had plenty of time to plan.

The article remains a disgrace, particularly for the slippery way the writer deals with the authenticity of the Strategy Document.

Heartland did declare one two-page document to be a forgery, although its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute.

Are Times readers regarded as so challenged that they can fail to spot the likelihood that a forgery might have passages resembling those from genuine documents if those documents had been used to put together the forgery?

Feb 29, 2012 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Heartland's open letter to the Pacific Institute is very well written.

Feb 29, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

I, too, think Heartland's letter to the Pacific Institute is admirably clear, unequivocal, concise and neatly sets out Heartland's plain and up-front way of doing business.
I would bet money that any reply is not as forthright, direct and unequivocal!

Feb 29, 2012 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Well if Koch were going to give/HI was expecting them to give $200K and now thats not going to happen because of the antics of Citizen Gleik and the attendant publicity, surely Gleik is going to get sued to Kingdom come by HI. Or are they just going to say, "oh well, never mind"? Being rude is one thing, depriving an organisation of a significant chunk of income, is another.

Feb 29, 2012 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Or are US litigation costs so enormous that suing over $200K is barely worth it? And anyway, if its a case against Gleik alone, another consideration might be what he has in the way of assets, ie is he sufficiently well-off that a victory in court for HI would be followed by their collecting off Gleik - the $200K, damages, plus their costs? Not too clever if you go to court seeking all that & it just results making the other party declare bankruptcy, where does a litigant stand in the creditors line?.....

Feb 29, 2012 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

O/T CASS are on the offensive against Heartland esp Tom Harris:

Feb 29, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave K

"Heartland have cleared that up, you chump."

"Are you blind, or just being deliberately obtuse?"

So much for trying to have a civil discussion. Bye.

Feb 29, 2012 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil C

Rhetorical question, but why do warmist climate scientists think they are on a totally different plane from the rest of us when it comes to professional, moral and ethical standards?

Feb 29, 2012 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterSalopian

Salopian, sadly, that superiority is the default attitude of all the great egalitarians, whether climate scientists or other. To claim the moral high ground is Leftisms smartest trick, and a reflection of how feeble the forces of anti-leftism generally are.

Feb 29, 2012 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill


Real world measurements show the moral high ground extremely likely (at the 95% confidence level) to be the most affected by climate change.

Feb 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Revkin writes:

I also found it a bit irksome to see you highlight how I credited Gleick with confessing to the subterfuge in obtaining the batch of board documents without noting my strong and repeated criticisms of his actions. I’d be happy to discuss my coverage with folks from the foundation any time.

I don't think you should find it irksome, Andy, because it was wrong to credit Gleick at all for such a half-baked, limited hangout of a confession, which continued to slander Heartland even as it pretended to some kind of regret - presumably that most wrenching kind of having got caught.

Nothing from Gleick or his supporters since has shown a real change of heart or a desire to put things right with Heartland and others that were needlessly exposed. This shows that your praise for Gleick was a misjudgment. If the Koch Foundation chooses to point this out you need to hold up your hand and admit it, just as the news side of the New York Times needs to own up to its own mistakes.

Then you can be given due credit for your early and forthright criticisms of the Pacific Institute hydrologist and MacArthur Genius Fellow.

Feb 29, 2012 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

simpleseeker, I sense forcings in that feed back

Feb 29, 2012 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Chump was mild, Phil old fruit. Such pettifoggery at a time like this is wearisome.

Feb 29, 2012 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

".... and refuses to answer any further question from the Times or anyone".

Such as, "Dear Dr Gleick, we you, in whole or in part, the author of the document(s) HI has claimed are fraudulent; yes or no?"

Feb 29, 2012 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterinteresting, but ....

Your Grace, I know this is OT, but I suspect that it is relevant;
S Goldenberg, the Grauniad's US environmental columnist, has an article on-line at that august organ titled 'Heartland Associate Taught 'Biased' Course at Ottawa University' as defined by a Canadian 'skeptical science' organisation and reported to the UNIPCC. Some of the 'biased' content included teaching that (horror of horrors) 'the climate is in constant change' and that 'CO2 is plant food'.

Feb 29, 2012 at 10:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K


More to this story than meets the eye. More soon.

Feb 29, 2012 at 10:22 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Yeah, I like that, Revkin being irked! Oh dear Andy did they not take on board the sturm and drang of your conflicted suffering! Maybe Koch are being hard on him there though, I mean, he is just writing as a blogging mate of Gleick who is mightily disappointed in him there isn't he? Not as a jounalist right?

What irked me in that Revkin piece was him referring to something which definitely claimed to be jounalism :

The varied ethical stances on the incident were laid out nicely by Suzanne Gol[d]enberg in The Guardian yesterday

Another sterling piece from Goldenberg to add to award winning work she has done on the back of this story. ;)

Feb 29, 2012 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Andy is really really trying, but he is not going to be able to seperate himself far enough from the debacle. Frankly I would have been a LOT more empathetic and understanding towards Koch out of common courtesy.

Feb 29, 2012 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The AGW promoters and idologues in lab coats are msitkaing the gutter they are in for the high ground. It is like one of those fun house illusions where you think you are looking down when you are really looking up.

Feb 29, 2012 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

"Lede. That's cool."--Richard Drake

Yes. Keeps the uninformed from pronouncing "lead" as if it were the metal. Next week, we'll consider the word "slug," which has little to do with garden pests. : ]

Feb 29, 2012 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The real questions for me are

1. Why did Revkin simply assume all the documents are authentic? By what process did he come to that opinion?

2. Now that Heartland have said the strategy memo is fake, and there is increasing evidence of the oddity of the document compared to the others, and there is no dispute the document was acquired separately from the others and simply added to the pack to the "15" without any indication of it's separate source - why does Revkin not CLEARLY modify or withdraw his statement about the document being authentic?

Because he wrote it here:

The newly disclosed documents that are evidently authentic are being pored over by many environmentalists and journalists, with a particular focus on the tax reporting of the group — which was clearly the intention of the person who disseminated them.

And was quoted in politico (which was then retweeted at various places) as having authenticated the documents.

Feb 29, 2012 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterCopner

That all said,

"If you scour my coverage, one thing you’ll note is that I made no mention of the foundation."

Ouch. Someone didn't do their homework - not really much reason for Revkin to call them if he didn't write about them. Readers would be right to wonder if the Koch Foundation itself is able to own up to mistakes on this story, as they wonder if the Times itself is able to own up to mistakes on this story, as we wonder if Gleick himself is able to own up to his mistakes.

I need a drink.

Feb 29, 2012 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobin

robin: The situation is not as complex as you make out. The Koch Foundation didn't say Revkin mentioned them. So he doesn't face up to the criticism they did make and implies they made a false one when they didn't.

But this after all is what one is allowed to do with extreme right-wing, fossil fuel interests like the Kochs. Completely misrepresent them. Because they are evil.

Mar 1, 2012 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake


Dot Earth - New York Times blog
February 20, 2012, 8:06 pm
Peter Gleick Admits to Deception in Obtaining Heartland Climate Files

That's here:

Looks like he might have mentioned them 'inadvertently'. Or he has the memory of a goldfish. Then again, perhaps he just lies instinctively, hoping it covers his tracks. So he either has the mental capacity of a doorstop or the ethics of an alley cat. Or both.

Great call, Mr Revkin. Keep it up.

Mar 1, 2012 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Actually it is even simpler than that:

"Not one of the five Times reporters that have written on the topic – Leslie Kaufman, Justin Gillis, John Border, Felicity Barringer, and Andrew Revkin – even attempted to contact us for input or reaction."

They made a mistake (assuming what Revkin said is accurate).

Mar 1, 2012 at 12:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterrobin

extra-ordinary laden!!!!! some laughs among the comments at least:

29 Feb: Science Blogs: Greg Laden: Heartland-1 … NCSE-0
So, it turns out that Heartland was behind the Heartland leak after all.
The evidence seems to suggest that Heartland’s Joe Bast wrote a memo, then he and/or Heartland-symp blogger Steven Mosher sent it secretly to Peter Gleick. Peter Gleick then obtained additional material from Heartland, which came to him at his request but all to easily to be explained as a mere oversight on the part of some administrative or secretarial staff. The only thing missing here is evidence that Bast or Mosher or someone suggested to Peter that he verify the memo by asking for related documents from Heartland. But that would be too easy.
Anyway, it now seems clear that the document, the allegedly faked internal strategy memo with the most damning text in it (but nothing really different from what is shown in other verified Heartland documents) was fed to Gleick, presumably in an effort to engineer his downfall as an incipient board member of the National Center for Science Education…
The evidence for this is the analysis just published by Shawn Otto…
Shawn Otto’s analysis is here.

Mar 1, 2012 at 12:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Revkin - He hasn't answered the obvious questions.

1. How did he "authenticate" the documents (including the strategy memo) ? By what process? (he said the memo is apparently authentic in his dotearth blog, and in comments to politico)

2. Now he knows that Heartland say the memo is fake - and Gleick says the document was acquired separately - and everybody who has analyzed has noticed numerous mathematical and other errors in the strategy document - does he still maintain that his "authentication"? And if so, on what basis?

3. If he can no longer attest to the "authentication" of the document, will he issue a full and clear correction to his previous statements on this subject?

Mar 1, 2012 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterCopner

From where I'm sitting, while I suspect that he will continue to be loath to admit it, Revkin's handling of Gleikgate has shown him to be a willing executioner in the metamorphosis of Gleick ... whose legacy may well be that of having gone from pisher to phisher in less than a year.

Gleick and the green factor$

Mar 1, 2012 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterHilary Ostrov

The topic is clearly, in the context, all the Heartland documents released by Gleick, whether leaked and fabricated, and their implications. The fact that Revkin doesn't mention the Koch Foundation, which I like you assume he's correct to claim), is beside the point. They quite reasonably are listing all the New York Times reporters, bloggers or op-ed writers that have covered the story - because, taken as a whole, they have been traduced and nobody has taken responsibility for this.

Boy, some people are desperate to find fault with the Koch Foundation, aren't they? But in this area I don't think anyone has landed a punch. There's plenty else they get up to, so I hear. But on this their complaint is fair and Revkin's response very weak, for the reasons already given.

Mar 1, 2012 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake


I am in general agreement with everything you say, but given that they are upset at being misrepresented without correction, I think it is important that they correct this. Certainly the scale is different, but the principal is the same. If they (or anyone) doesn't feel a need for a retraction on that point it just becomes a team sport, and in that case I'm partial to hockey.

Mar 1, 2012 at 1:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterrobin

Robin -
I don't think the Koch statement has any misstatements. Read the email chain. Their primary complaint seems to have been an article by Gillis and Kaufman which implied that the Koch contribution went to Heartland's climate change efforts. Here's the original text:

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Heartland documents was what they did not contain: evidence of contributions from the major publicly traded oil companies, long suspected by environmentalists of secretly financing efforts to undermine climate science.

But oil interests were nonetheless represented. The documents say that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation contributed $25,000 last year and was expected to contribute $200,000 this year. Mr. Koch is one of two brothers who have been prominent supporters of libertarian causes as well as other charitable endeavors. They control Koch Industries, one of the country’s largest private companies and a major oil refiner.

Given the lead-in sentence about oil companies funding "efforts to undermine climate science", it seems more than a reasonable inference that the Koch (oil) money went towards climate-related activities. I don't understand why the Times' Nancy Kenney says in the email exchange, "Although you have accurately quoted the sentence from our story, you seem to be misreading what it conveys. We related the $25,000 gift without making any statement as to its purpose; it is clear from the overall context of the story that many gifts to Heartland were made for purposes other than climate advocacy." This seems disingenuous. I don't understand why the Times wouldn't make a minor amendment to the story to clarify that. But perhaps they still believe that the fake Climate Strategy document is true, and that provides evidence that Koch is bankrolling the "well-funded denier efforts." (And for only $25K !)
I'll grant that the complaint against Revkin is weak...I don't think he came down hard enough on Gleick, but that's not in the same league as the [non-Revkin] slant against Koch.

Mar 1, 2012 at 1:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

@Phil C

"Two weeks following the release of these documents, we are still waiting for Heartland's word on the authenticity of the remaining 100 pages that are out there."

Heartland shall do no such thing. The Heartland Institute ought not breach the privacy and confidentiality of its arrangements with donors and employees by admitting the authenticity of the documents. The name and salaries of every one of their employees are listed in those documents. Heartland is perfectly entitled to (indeed may even be legally obliged to) deliberately cast doubt by neither confirming nor denying whether the documents other than the obviously fake one are authentic.

Now, do you think it was Peter Gleick who faked the smoking gun doc? It was meant to be a howling Big Bertha, but turned out to be a pink pop gun. Not the work of a genius nor an honest man. So it can't be Gleick the Macarthur genius and the chair of an ethics panel. What do you think?

Mar 1, 2012 at 2:05 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx


No arguments that NYT is feigning misunderstanding the obvious, or that this is in the same league, just a simple retraction (if Revkin is correct) on a minor point is needed. I think it would do them a world of good.

You can claim the moral high ground by saying "my hole isn't as deep".

Mar 1, 2012 at 2:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterrobin

sigh, can == can't, but everyone knows I can ever get that right.

Mar 1, 2012 at 2:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterrobin

It's 9:06 pm on the East Coast of the United States. I don't intend to stay awake all night waiting for Revkin to take responsibility for putting this story in the public eye. He thought he had a scoop, went with it, then waited for the glory to come his way. Once he saw something else was coming his way he gingerly snuck off, after throwing Gleick under the bus. Saying that he's no longer a reporter but, rather, an opinion writer is disingenuous in the extreme. What the distinction of moving from the fact side of the paper to the opinion side means is that he can be even more slippery than before, a dream come true as it were.

Mar 1, 2012 at 2:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarold Ambler

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>