Green cranks are going after spiked – again

Our response to another nonsensical, conspiratorial hit job.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics Politics Science & Tech

Another day, another smear.

spiked received an email earlier today from an alleged journalist at something called DeSmog – an intolerant outfit that goes around accusing those of us who disagree with eco-austerity of being ‘climate deniers’ and in the pay of the fossil-fuel industry. He is about to publish a ‘story about the influence of fossil-fuel companies and climate-science deniers on UK politics’, mapping ‘connections between fossil-fuel companies, political-party donors, right-wing think-tanks, anti-climate media outlets, and senior figures in the Conservative Party’ – a shadowy network of which we are apparently a part. The less-than-subtle implication is that we are paid-up mouthpieces of the fossil-fuel industry.

This is not the first time DeSmog has tried to smear us with ludicrous conspiracy theories. In 2018, it teamed up with George Monbiot and the Guardian to publish a story accusing us of being in the pocket of Big Oil, purely because our US sister charity received two grants from a libertarian foundation to produce events and films about free speech. Its write-up came complete with a precious, not-at-all-crankish spider diagram.

We responded to the smears here at the time. Now, it seems DeSmog is re-airing these claims in a new ‘exposé’. The journalist was kind enough to give us less than 24 hours to respond. I’ve posted his email and my full response below, so that our readers, the true funders of spiked, can make up their own minds.

As I say in my response, if I took the time to rebut all the smears thrown our way, I’d do little else. But conspiratorial attacks like this need to be confronted. They are aimed at discrediting our tiny team of hard-working journalists and making people think twice about reading and supporting us. I’m not having it.

Email from DeSmog

For the attention of spiked,

My name’s Sam Bright – I’m a journalist at DeSmog. We’re writing a story about the influence of fossil-fuel companies and climate-science deniers on UK politics. The story will map the connections between fossil-fuel companies, political-party donors, right-wing think-tanks, anti-climate media outlets and senior figures in the Conservative Party.

The story will identify spiked as part of this network and we would like to offer you the opportunity to comment.

The story will state that:
spiked is a website that regularly publishes attacks on climate science and policy.
–Between 2015 and 2018 the website received $300,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation, an arm of oil giant Koch Industries and a major funder of climate denial.

Please let me know if you’re willing / able to comment. Our deadline is 8am on Thursday 13 June.

Kind regards,
Sam Bright

Response from Tom Slater

Dear Sam Bright,

We at spiked are proud of our record of challenging green ideology, particularly its immiseration of the working class and poor the world over. We’re also proud of our work challenging conspiratorial thinking, a malady that is poisoning public debate and one that you and your colleagues appear to be suffering from.

The figures you refer to were grants from the Toleration and Free Speech Programme at the Charles Koch Foundation. They were made to Spiked US, our former US sister charity, between 2016 and 2018, to produce a series of events and films about freedom of speech.

The idea that our more than 20 years of critiquing green politics is purely because, a few years ago, a libertarian foundation funded some free-speech work is a level of dot-connecting that would make David Icke blush.

I’d also point out that many groups, of many political persuasions, were awarded grants from the same programme. I suppose Index on Censorship and the Atlantic magazine, who have also received Charles Koch Foundation grants, are also part of the vast, climate-denying conspiracy you are alleging.

If I bothered to respond to all of the spurious or defamatory attacks on spiked, I’d do little else. The reason I’m bothering here is because we are a small, principled, reader-funded magazine – and stories like this are obviously designed to portray us as paid shills and therefore discredit us in the eyes of readers.

We say what we say because we believe it. We are fiercely independent. We are also funded primarily by our audience. Their donations make up 70 per cent of our revenue and the vast majority of our regular supporters give just £5 a month. We are hugely grateful to them, not least because advertisers are increasingly blacklisting us, under pressure from people like you, despite our large following.

We are pleased to say we punch above our weight. But our outsized influence on public debate is down to the brilliance and hard work of our tiny team, with just six full-time members of staff, and the generosity of our readers.

By contrast, I note that your own organisation is largely funded by an array of foundations and deep, green pockets. To be attacked by you lot – again – is a bad joke.

Tom Slater
Editor, spiked

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Topics Politics Science & Tech


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