In Part I
of my series on CFACT, I presented evidence of National CFACT's financial ties to polluting corporations in the oil and auto industries. I also noted that National CFACT, although it claims to be an environmental organization, presents rhetoric that closely resembles the industries' positions.
For that reason, I believe that National CFACT is a corporate front group, not an environmental organization at all.
A front group is an organization that claims to represent one agenda while actually pursuing another. Setting up these third party groups is a well-established public relations tactic that allows corporations to create the appearance of independent opposition to activists. PR Watch
says of front groups,
Whether the issue is health, consumer safety, environmental preservation or democracy and world peace, citizens today find themselves confronted by a bewildering array of hired propagandists paid to convince the public that junk food is nutritious, pollution is harmless, and that what's good for big business and big government is good for the rest of us.
Unlike advertising, public relations is often hard to recognize. "The best PR is invisible," say industry insiders. To spin the news in favor of their clients, PR firms specialize in setting up phony citizens' groups and scientific "experts" who spin out contrived research. [Emphasis added.]
As I mentioned earlier, there are approximately 22 campus chapters of CFACT across the nation. These campus chapters of CFACT do not, to my knowledge, receive funds directly from polluting industries or from National CFACT.
Nevertheless, the agenda of campus CFACT chapters appears to have close ties to the goals of National CFACT’s corporate funders:
In addition to instigating pro-corporate student protests, National CFACT provides "informational" resources to its campus chapters. The website www.cfactcampus.org
contains news, links and environmental "fact sheets"
that are free to download. Like the articles found on the National CFACT website, the information found in the fact sheets reveals an underlying, pollution-friendly agenda. For instance, the sheets outline talking points for defending the fuel efficiency of SUVs, for denying the existence of global warming, and for claiming that air pollution is declining.
Another way that National CFACT spreads its message on college campuses is by helping students connect to industry-friendly speakers. A "Speaker's Bureau"
section of the CFACT website contains a list of "scientists" with impressive-sounding credentials.
For instance, the Speaker's Bureau profiles of Drs. Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas contain detailed descriptions of their research, implying that they are highly qualified scientists. The website fails to mention, however, that their research on climate change is underwritten by the American Petroleum Institute
and has been refuted by mainstream climate scientists.Part III: Exxon Mobil: Manipulating Public Debate at Your University