Donna Laframboise @ No Frakking Consensus:
There’s chatter in the climate blogosphere about a new paper that claims the fiscally conservative movement in America known as the Tea Party has links to Big Tobacco. For example, climatologist Michael Mann is (re)tweeting about it:
The paper in question has been published in a journal titled Tobacco Control. You can purchase one day of access to it here if you’re willing to pay $30 US (or, since I’m in Canada, the price is 20 British pounds).
The author of the paper is a University of California San Francisco professor namedStanton Glantz. Since this is a discussion about who’s connected to whom behind the scenes, it’s worth noticing that Glantz happens to sit on the Editorial Advisory Board of this very journal.
In any case, climate activists have a long history of trying to discredit climate skepticism by claiming that skeptics are behaving like Big Tobacco by questioning the urgency of the climate crisis, that we’re employing a “tobacco strategy” to communicate our point-of-view, and so forth. In the comic-book world inhabited by such people, climate skepticism and the Tea Party are practically indistinguishable, hence the interest in this paper.
The University of California has issued a press release headlined: Study: Tea Party Organizations Have Ties To Tobacco Industry Dating Back To 1980s. It quotes Glantz:
Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party movement have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry’s anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.
Let’s deal with the last half of that sentence first. The claim is that the Tea Party is promoting the tobacco industry’s agenda. Except that hostility toward excessive taxes and job-killing regulations is actually its own agenda. Those ideas are central to a fiscally conservative economic analysis.
Even if tobacco never existed, the Tea Party would still be against red tape. It would still be saying that ordinary people pay too much tax. Any professor who thinks the Tea Party’s opposition to taxes has been orchestrated by the tobacco industry needs to step outside his ivory tower and inhale some fresh air.
Which leaves the first part of the sentence. We’re told that Tea Party organizations “have longstanding ties to tobacco companies.” Well, if that is sufficient to discredit the Tea Party, it should be sufficient to discredit a wide swath of environmental activism as well.
Back in 1996, the New York Times reported that, six years after Al Gore’s sister had died of lung cancer, he himself “was still accepting campaign contributions from tobacco interests.” In 1999, it revealed that Gore’s “top media adviser,” Carter Eskew,
helped design a $40 million advertising blitz for the big tobacco companies during the Congressional fight over Federal anti-tobacco legislation…[Eskew] is not the only member of the Gore team with tobacco ties. Tina Flournoy, Mr. Gore’s finance director, is a former Philip Morris executive, and Jonathan Tisch, one of his top fund-raisers in New York, is a top executive at the Loews Corporation, the parent company of Lorillard Tobacco.
On the campaign trail back in 1988, Gore couldn’t boast loudly enough about the central role tobacco has played in his life: