The Gray Lady, Reporting for Duty - Climate Litigation Watch

The Gray Lady, Reporting for Duty

Reminder of Rockefeller Family Fund’s instrumental role in AG abuses

The New York Times does its part today to help the flagging NY AG #ExxonKnew case that opens at 2:15 pm today in Manhattan, giving a whopping 1,300 words to The Godfather of the climate litigation industry, Lee Wasserman of Rockefeller Family Foundation (some CLW context is available here).

This offers a nice reminder of Wasserman’s leading role in this scandalous use of law enforcement now afflicting certain jurisdictions. Particularly New York, where privilege logs in open records litigation hint at his long-running and close collaboration with the NY AG’s office to make today reality.

In recruiting AGs to go after energy companies, we see Mr. Wasserman trying to get a handle on the whole Twitter DM-vs-post thing when lining up his meeting with then-AG Kamala Harris’s office.

His daughter gave him proper credit, when the NY AG fired its first shot with a subpoena.


This piece is timed to coincide with today’s opening arguments, and Mr. Wasserman’s pals organizing a protest outside the courthouse — including the non-profit through which much — indeed, so far as we can tell, most — of this scheme was run, Union of Concerned Scientists.

NYT cites Mr. Wasserman’s position with Rockefeller Family Fund which as CLW readers (though not NYT’s) know underwrote the push to engage attorneys general to go after the energy industry and specifically to target ExxonMobil. Like hosting the “delegitimize” meeting that CLW imagines could prove costly to participants, down the road. This targeting is something their beneficiary journalism/activism outfits and the Rockefellers admitted to after Rockefeller initially denied it.

Participants at the press conference launching this abuse weren’t at all reticent about admitting their pretext was the Rockefeller-pushed stories. These included investor Al Gore who curiously shared the stage with law enforcement officials:

Al Gore:

Could I respond to the last couple of questions just briefly. And in doing so, I’d like to give credit to the journalistic community and single out the Pulitzer Prize winning team at InsideClimate News, also the Los Angeles Times and the student-led project at Columbia School of Journalism under Steve Coll. And the facts that were publicly presented during, in those series of articles that I have mentioned, are extremely troubling, and where Exxon Mobil in particular is concerned…Indeed, the evidence indicates that, that I’ve seen and that these journalists have collected, including the distinguished historian of science at Harvard, Naomi ORESKES wrote the book The Merchants of Doubt with her co-author, that they hired several of the very same public relations agents that had perfected this fraudulent and deceitful craft working for the tobacco companies. And so as someone who has followed the legislative, the journalistic work very carefully, I think the analogy does hold up. (emphases added) Transcript p. 18

NY AG Schneiderman:

Well, I know that prior to today, it was, and not every investigation gets announced at the outset as you know, but it had already been announced that New York and California had begun investigations with those stories. I think Maura just indicated a Massachusetts investigation and the Virgin Islands has, and we’re meeting with our colleagues to go over a variety of things. (emphases added)(Transcript p. 16); vows “to step into this battle with an unprecedented level of commitment and coordination.” Transcript p. 4

Hey, California…that’s the one Lee Wasserman is DM/texting on this, above. New York, well those privilege logs explain that one.

These Rockefeller-arranged stories were those used as the basis for plaintiffs’ lawyer Matt Pawa’s “What Exxon Knew” slide show used to recruit the AGs, as CLW has documented over the past week-plus.

  • December 1, 2015: PAWA emails MA OAG:

“Melissa and Christophe – You have probably been reading about the disclosure of Exxon’s early knowledge. My office has collected and reviewed the documents that recently came to light and we have put together a mini trial-type presentation on what Exxon knew about global warming, when it knew it and what it did anyway in the next 20 plus years.

I have been giving this presentation to various government officials and am told that it has been very helpful to their understanding of the situation as they consider options similar to those the NY AG has commenced. I would be happy to do this presentation for you if you are interested ( and without regard to any issue of hiring counsel — this is just information provided as a public service that you may be able to use as you consider whether to take a closer look at this matter).

Links are here to the articles that have generated so much attention on

this issue:

– content/Exxon-The-Road-Not-Taken (five part series)


Which Massachusetts’ Maura Healey rather clumsily reminded us of at the same infamous press conference:

AG Healey:

“[S]he disclosed that she too had begun investigating ExxonMobil and concluded, before receiving a single document from ExxonMobil,” that “Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be, must be, held accountable. That’s why I, too, have joined in investigating the practices of ExxonMobil. We can all see today the troubling disconnect between what Exxon knew, what industry folks knew, and what the company and industry chose to share with investors and with the American public. (emphases added) Transcript p. 12

So, take a bow, Lee Wasserman. Today begins what you took the lead in launching four years ago.