Media Hype ‘Risky Business’ Climate Campaign, Forget Their Past Attacks on Former Treasury Secretary
Apparently journalists are happy to forgive when they agree with their former opponents.
Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on June 22, warning of the financial risks of climate change. Soon afterward, Paulson was publicly joined by billionaire liberal donors Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg in the “Risky Business” campaign to highlight the alleged “economic risks of climate change in the United States.”
As media outlets clamored to promote the trio’s work, they failed to mention Paulson had long been demonized for his role in the financial crisis. The media also turned a blind eye to the campaign’s funding by liberal billionaires.
The Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine and other publications touted this new “bipartisan report” and praised Paulson for promoting climate alarmism. But those reports ignored millions of dollars from liberal donors and their own previous criticism of Paulson as “blameworthy” and one of the “villains of the financial crisis.”
In the Times, Paulson predicted a coming “climate crash” which he compared to the “devastating” financial crisis of 2008. “This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain,” he wrote. Ironically, Paulson called upon his past experience with financial crises, saying “I was secretary of the Treasury when the credit bubble burst, so I think it’s fair to say that I know a little bit about risk, assessing outcomes and problem-solving.”
Serving as the Treasury secretary from 2006 to 2009, Paulson developed and orchestrated the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), bailing out major banks after the 2008 crisis. He also served as CEO of Goldman Sachs for seven years before working in the Bush administration.
Just two days after his op-ed, Paulson and a group of former government officials and billionaires released an economic report, forecasting climate change’s economic damage. This new project was chaired by Paulson, as well as billionaire climate alarmist Steyer and former New York City mayor and billionaire Bloomberg.
Major media outlets seized on this report and promoted its conclusions without questioning the report or its authors. Time Magazine’s Dan Kedmey claimed “rising seas and extreme weather could lead to billions of dollars in economic losses,” and Reuters’ Sharon Begley predicted “the price tag could soar to hundreds of billions by 2100.” Meanwhile the Post’s Steven Mufson warned of “extreme heat and rising sea levels linked to climate change.”
Other outlets praised the report’s authors as prestigious or knowledgeable. The Huffington Post’s Kate Sheppard referred to them as “a group of people who know a thing or two about making and losing money.” The Times’ Justin Gillis described the authors as “a coalition of senior political and economic figures from left, right and center, including three Treasury secretaries stretching back to the Nixon administration.”
But many of these same outlets were highly critical of Paulson during the 2008 financial crisis, but didn’t mention past criticism.
The Times’ Gretchen Morgenson and Don Van Natta Jr., in August 2009, wrote that “Paulson’s Calls to Goldman Tested Ethics” and described suspicious correspondence between Paulson as Treasury secretary and his former employer Goldman Sachs.
Similarly, Time Magazine listed Paulson as one of “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis” and said “he was late to the party in battling the financial crisis” was wrong in “letting Lehman Brothers fail” and called the bank bailout he advocated “a wasteful mess.” Finally, a Daily Finance article described Paulson as one of “Seven Villains of the Financial Crisis.”
Few media outlets even called attention to the massive amount of liberal money behind “Risky Business” with Steyer and Bloomberg as co-chairs. Steyer, who’s worth $1.6 billion according to Forbes, pledged $100 million to push climate alarmism in 2014. His wealth pales in comparison to Bloomberg’s $34.2 billion, according to Forbes. Bloomberg has also spent heavily on climate-related causes. In 2011, he pledged $50 million to the liberal Sierra Club in order to “shut down coal-fired power plants,” according to the Times.
— Sean Long is Staff Writer at the Media Research Center. Follow Sean Long on Twitter.