Internal Heartland Institute Email Blasts "Lamestream Media" for Climate Leak

| Thu Feb. 16, 2012 7:15 AM EST

It's been an interesting few days in the climate denial world. On Tuesday, DeSmogBlog and Think Progress posted what they described as internal documents from the Heartland Institute, a fossil-fuel-funded right-wing think tank that spends much of its time denying climate change. The posted documents include plans for disseminating climate change disinformation to kids and to provide funding for science deniers.

Heartland responded on Wednesday, claiming that some of the documents are real, but others are a "total fake," and still others are being reviewed. The group wrote in a press release:

The stolen documents were obtained by an unknown person who fraudulently assumed the identity of a Heartland board member and persuaded a staff member here to "re-send" board materials to a new email address. Identity theft and computer fraud are criminal offenses subject to imprisonment. We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes.

It's worth noting that Heartland didn't seem to mind when emails between climate scientists that were stolen from a server, made public, and lied about on the internet—either the first or second time it happened. It's only now that that type of behavior is "just despicable," a "violation of journalistic ethics," and a criminal offense.

Now Heartland is using the incident to fundraise, according to an email to donors obtained by Mother Jones on Wednesday night. The email complains that "scores of bloggers and left-wing activists and their pets in the lamestream media" are posting and quoting the documents, and says that what New York Times' Andy Revkin did—i.e. publishing some of the documents—"was not only unethical, it was also probably illegal." It also asks for donations to the organization's legal defense fund to fight "false and defamatory" stories. And it apologizes to funders whose names were made public by the incident: "We promise anonymity to many of our donors because nobody wants the risk of nutty environmentalists or Occupy Wall Street goons harassing them. We know that privacy is important to you."

The full email is below the fold:

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