Greenpeace recently released the contents of two video calls that it had surreptitiously recorded with one current and one former employee of Exxon Mobil.
The two men in the videos, one of whom has left to work for a solar company, thought they were talking to a corporate recruiter about career opportunities. In reality, they were talking to Greenpeace operatives who were (surprise!) intentionally deceiving them.
Perhaps not surprisingly, even before the videos surfaced, the usual suspects had statements at the ready. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California issued a press release before the videos had been reported by the press, although in fairness he may have been talking about something different, because his release mentioned a leaked “Exonn” video.
You’d think with all the advance notice he was given by his allies in Greenpeace and the press, Mr. Khanna could have at least spell-checked his statement.
A prominent member of not one but two exclusive and probably all-White beach and yacht clubs in Rhode Island, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse was also immediately ready for an on-camera interview. No word on whether the camera crew was all-White as well.
With all that, the admissions in the videos amount to a list of what people in the advocacy line of work do. It turns out, that, yes, lobbyists talk to members of Congress and their staffs. Yes, they sometimes change their positions. Yes, Exxon is in favor of a carbon tax but has serious doubts about whether one will ever pass.
I like many Americans — oppose a carbon tax and have serious doubts about whether one will pass. President Biden opposes a carbon tax as well, probably because he thinks it can’t pass. So what?
The former Exxon lobbyist said that reducing the corporate tax rate in the 2017 tax legislation was a big win for the company. Shocker! In other news, water is wet. It seems that the company has worked to alter public policies, including legislation in ways that its executives think make the most sense.
So, companies advocate for policies that serve the interests of their employees, customers and shareholders. Color me amazed.
After a short search, in turns out that, despite all the pearl-clutching, Greenpeace itself has lobbyists, who I assume are paid to affect public policies in furtherance of the goals of the donors and employees of Greenpeace. I bet they even occasionally use tactics like pretending to be someone they’re not and then recording phone calls with unsuspecting people.
Why did Greenpeace and its pals in the mainstream media really make a big deal out of these videos? That’s easy. The last thing environmental organizations want is oil and gas companies working to address environmental concerns. Without a target like Exxon, it would be much more difficult to raise money. They need to make sure that oil and gas companies are marginalized, at least in the eyes of their donor base.
Sharing the videos also helps their friends in Congress, who have been trying to jam American consumers with higher prices in the name of addressing climate change. It can’t be accidental that Mr. Khanna, who is chairman of the environmental subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, immediately threatened: “They should be under no illusion. We will subpoena if they are not cooperative … This adds fuel to the fire.”
In short, Exxon and Greenpeace are guilty of the same thing: trying to be heard by government officials who can often be difficult to reach and slow to understand.
The difference between the two and it is a crucial one is that only Greenpeace resorted to illicit means.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to President Trump and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
Sign up for Daily Opinion Newsletter