ExxonMobil Corporation, which is as predictable as
the weather the seasons ExxonMobil, is going after anyone who dares to investigate their decades-long looting of the planet. Most recently they’ve been trying to get a bunch of people fired at Columbia University.
Being smarter than Ken Cohen et al means that Columbia University did not take the bait; however, like a rabid jackal frothing at the mouth, I suspect that ExxonMobil’s next move will be to sic their legal army against those exposing them, after all, they’ve seen something like this coming for years. However, trying to silence Columbia University, Inside Climate News and the LA Times is going to be legal quicksand, though that doesn’t mean they won’t try to find a sympathetic judge/jury. The problem for the journalists is that the corporation has a bottomless pit of money to spend on such litigation, unlike everyone else on the planet. Just like they (and their fetid ilk) have done to climate scientists to shut them up, they’ll just try to spend the whistleblowers into the ground. Because that’s just how they do things. As for legal standing, ExxonMobil has none whatsoever.
First of all, nothing that has been reported about ExxonMobil has been false. I can say that they are crooks, murderers, liars, thieves, and con men…because they are. I can also say that, in my opinion, they’re idiots and thugs. The latter part of my claim (idiots and thugs) may lead them to do something stupid, which just (further) proves my point, actually.
In order for them to go after Columbia et al for something like defamation, they’d be admitting that all statements, results of the investigations, and conclusions are 100% correct. Here’s a Wikipedia description that helps explain it:
Defamation is the communication of a statement that is implied to be factual and gives an individual, business, product, group or government a negative image. For a statement to be defamatory on the Internet it must be a fact. By definition, opinions posted on the Internet cannot be called defamation in a court of law. You may wonder why you don’t see more high profile Internet defamation lawsuits. When a person makes a public claim of defamation, the information is guaranteed to be 100% true and the lawsuit will be spread over the Internet.
Which leads to my next point. The fossil fuel industry is commonly understood to be wickedly and thoroughly corrupt, with ExxonMobil easily at the top of the list of the most despised of the already despised. They, of course, are fully aware of their hated status. They also know that they’re under investigation by the US Attorney General, and that there are potentially several other such investigations about to be launched in other states. Factor in, additionally, that there is a groundswell of support for the US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to launch her own investigation into the corporation for their obfuscation of facts about climate change and their funding of the denier movement. As I type these words, I can virtually guarantee there is a small army of lawyers who are arguing about whether or not to drop the ruse of this “aw, shucks, we didn’t do anything wrong,” game and just go balls to the wall, ruthless and viciously aggressive, which is their standard operating procedure throughout much of the world. The thing is that the American public hasn’t really seen much of that side of the company….yet.
You have to realize that the fossil fuel industry crossed some sort of previously-undetected vile “membrane” when their greed exceeded their common sense and they decided to frack the daylights out of their fellow American’s backyards, thus dropping the facade of “benevolent energy provider.” You also have to know that they are, in fact, a bunch of idiots who are overseen by non-idiot lawyers who probably spend all their time trying to rein them in, while also trying to anticipate the next lawsuit, PR nightmare, or environmental catastrophe. For proof of this, just consider that ExxonMobil’s CEO, Rex Darth Vadar Tillerson, joined a lawsuit in Texas last year which opposed fracking near his ranch. Yes. You read that right. ExxonMobil, which is the nation’s largest natural gas (fracking) provider, had its very own CEO trying to prevent fracking anywhere near where he lives. And (you can’t make up this stuff) he was joined in this endeavor by Dick Armey. Dick Armey, the former GOP House Majority Leader and former Chairman of FreedomWorks, an organization which is “fueled,” literally and figuratively by the oil and gas industry and funded by the Koch brothers. Dick Armey also didn’t want fracking anywhere near him or his family. This Forbes article is hilarious. I get the feeling that the journalist, Rick Ungar, was laughing his ass off as he wrote it.
I mention the Tillerson fracking lawsuit debacle (he later dropped out of it – probably at the insistence of an ExxonMobil lawyer) because it is illustrative of an attitude, or ethos, embedded in the culture of fossil fuel companies, and ExxonMobil, in particular. The industry, which is regarded as ruthless, cunning, manipulative, secretive, and dismissive of public opinion (unless forced to be otherwise) will wear the haircloth of decency until it gets too itchy. Tillerson, who has also stubbornly been in the oil and gas business with Vladimir Putin and the Russians, despite sanctions and a public outcry against what they did in Ukraine, is surely chafing along his private parts by now. He just doesn’t give a damn. Or he’s an idiot. Probably both.
All the while, ExxonMobil’s well-heeled legal eagles are probably whispering in his ear to back off from the blatant defensiveness and petty attacks, probably drawing out in cartoon form a concept which should be holding him back from going after the LA Times, Inside Climate News, and Columbia’s coeds. Three little words, a short phrase, really, which should make him behave like an adult for just a little longer (but he probably won’t) known as The Streisand Effect:
And you should read the Wikipedia page about it, which, of course, only reinforces The Streisand Effect, but that’s the Effect, right?
You know how you’re watching a TV show with cops and robbers and the police officer will approach a bad guy on the street to ask him a question, and you just know that he’s going to run. It may take a second or two, but at some point, he will show his true colors and make a break for it. I’m betting that those overworked ExxonMobil corporate attorneys, who slave away for about a $1,000/hour, are keeping Brooks Brothers pretty busy about now.