Lawsuit Coverage Doesn’t Disclose Donors

Climate Groups Don’t Disclose Shared Donors in Lawsuit Coverage

By Aly Nielsen

InsideClimate News is thrilled that children are suing the government over climate change. But in its reporting on the updated lawsuit, InsideClimate omitted the fact that it got money from the same donor as those suing.

“Attorneys representing 21 children who are suing the federal government over its responsibility to slow climate change are seeking answers from the oil and gas industry,” InsideClimate reported on March 1. Part of the lawsuit includes a “request for documents” including “memoranda by individual industry researchers, lobbyists, trade association employees and other fossil fuel advocates.”

The lawsuit, from lawyers at Our Children’s Trust (OCT), was originally filed in September 2015. OCT updated the lawsuit in January 2017 to include President Trump.

InsideClimate’s March report also bragged that its research was connected to the suit. The OCT lawsuit’s recent document request targeted groups that “figured in an investigation by InsideClimate News in 2015.”

That investigation was the Rockefeller Family Fund financed attack on ExxonMobil. But InsideClimate did not disclose in the March 1, story that OCT also took money from by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund — or note that the Fund is one of its donors too.

OCT has received at least $30,000 from The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) in 2014, which also gave at least $600,000 to InsideClimate between 2013 and 2014. RBF also contributed to other entities which launched anti-Exxon Mobil investigations — Columbia Journalism School and the Los Angeles Times.

The Tides Foundation, which is tied to liberal organizations like The Center for Media and Democracy and Grist, also gave OCT at least $20,000 in 2015.

OCT claims to be a nonprofit that “elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations.” Of course, the organization never explains how the 21 plaintiffs — some as young as 8 when the case began — even understand climate science enough to be accurately represented in a lawsuit.

Grist, DeSmog Blog and Democracy Now! also covered the OCT lawsuit without disclosing their funding ties. Grist and DeSmog Blog have both been funded by The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Democracy Now! received at least $538,934 from the Tides Foundation.