ExxonMobil Keeps the Deception Coming


On January 8, the Guardian wrote that ExxonMobil had a cynical and deceitful plan to change its anti-green image.

The leadership at ExxonMobil has promised investors that it will “soften” its public image in a bid to rid itself of a reputation for being green campaigners’ public enemy number one.

Chairman and chief executive Rex Tillerson made clear to a select group of top Wall Street fund managers and equity analysts that it would not be changing its basic position on global warming – just explain it better.

A note put out after the meeting by Fadel Gheit, oil analyst at the Oppenheimer brokerage in New York, says the company “has clearly taken a much less adversial and more reconciliatory position on key environmental issues.”

But the note adds: “Although the tone has changed, the substance remains the same.”

Why would Exxon need to change its image? Because in 2005, Mother Jones broke the story that Exxon gives millions of dollars to think tanks, researchers, and media figures to produce and promote phony science purporting to debunk global warming. (For a handy chart, see here.) Since that time, other news organizations have piled on, reporting essentially the same story time and again.

ExxonMobil’s plan is already working. Just a few days after the CEO announced that the company was attempting to change its public image, news stories started appearing with headlines like, “Exxon cuts ties to global warming skeptics” and “Exxon Mobil softens its climate-change stance.”

So a note to journalists: Read the truth about ExxonMobil. Mother Jones is more than happy to provide the material. The ExxonMobil story, “Some Like it Hot,” was part of a larger package on global warming called “As the World Burns.” More recently, Mother Jones published “The Thirteenth Tipping Point,” a study of twelve climate change hot spots that, if triggered, could “initiate sudden, catastrophic changes across the planet,” and “Let Them Eat CO2,” which looked at the Bush Administration’s spin on the subject.

And for a particularly germane article on corporate responsibility (Subtitle: “Is Corporate Do-Goodery for Real?” Answer here: No.), see “Hype vs. Hope.”

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate