The Wall Street Journal reportedly charged extra for an ad that criticized the paper’s coverage of climate change.
The ad was paid for by the Washington-based Partnership for Responsible Growth (PRG) and ran in the Tuesday edition, the Washington Post reported. It is the first in a series of ads to promote pricecarbon.org, a website set up by the PRG to advocate for a carbon tax as a free-market solution to solving climate change. The first ad to run specifically challenges the paper’s record on covering climate change in its editorial section, and it cost more than the others.
The PRG argues that the Journal‘s consistent move to publish material out of step with scientific consensus stifles meaningful public discourse on climate change and discourages bipartisan climate action on a “national security threat.”
The PRG’s claim about the Journal‘s climate coverage is based on an analysis by Climate Nexus, a nonprofit organization that advocates for clean energy solutions, which looked at over 600 opinion pieces in the paper stretching back roughly two decades. It found that out of 201 editorials published since 1997, none explicitly acknowledge that fossil fuels cause climate change. Furthermore, the editorials “echo industry talking points and rhetoric that minimize climate risk and cast doubt on climate science.” Additionally, they found that out of 279 op-eds published since 1995, a total of 40 reflect mainstream climate science; out of 122 columns published since 1997, merely four either accept as fact that fossil fuels cause climate change or advocate a policy that would reduce emissions.
The PRG’s findings are echoed by those of Climate Feedback, a new initiative that assigns media outlets a rating based on an assessment by scientists of how accurately they report on climate change, which has written that “op-eds on climate in The Wall Street Journal were consistently found to be at odds with current scientific knowledge.”
The first PRG ad begins with the headline:“Exxon’s CEO says fossil fuels are raising temperatures and sea levels. Why won’t the Wall Street Journal?” It goes on to say: “If the CEO of the world’s largest company accepts the basic physics that humans are heating the climate with excess C02, why won’t the editorial board of this newspaper? Isn’t it about time?”
According to The Washington Post, the paper “initially rejected the first ad but accepted 11 subsequent ads, none of which mention the Journal.” The Journal denies that it ever rejected the ad.
The first ad was published Tuesday, but the Post reports:
According to internal documents supplied by the environmental organization, the newspaper is charging the group $36,528 for the Journal-bashing ad while charging $27,309 each for the eight ads that follow it (the last three in the series are freebies, known as “bonus” ads).
Of the remaining ads, only the second — due to be published on Thursday — is currently viewable on the PRG’s website. It is a primer on the process by which carbon dioxide traps heat. “This isn’t a left or right issue. It’s science,” the ad says.
Colleen Schwartz, a spokesperson for the Journal, told Mediaite: “We charge the standard rate card price for any ad debating the Journal, which is the case here. The other ads in this series received a frequency discount.”
“We’re not really trying to convert or attack the paper,” PRG founder George Frampton told the Post. “We’re trying to reach out to a business audience in a medium that never tells them the the science is basically settled and that this is a national-security and economic problem.”
“I’d say if the Journal won’t cover it, we’ll pay to have them cover it,” he said.
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