Does ExxonMobil Pay the New York Times a Premium to Run Ads Next to Global Warming Stories?

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Right next to a NYT story that begins:

A giant ice shelf has snapped free from an island south of the North Pole, scientists said Thursday, citing climate change as a ”major” reason for the event. The Ayles Ice Shelf — all 41 square miles of it — broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 500 miles south of the North Pole in the Canadian Arctic.

Is an ad for the company that’s done more than any other to fund global warming denialists (as a Mother Jones story nominated for a National Magazine Award reported last year):

Why not take wastes that would end up in landfills and recycle them so they end up as roads? Learn more about our committment to the environment. ExxonMobil: Taking on the world’s toughest energy challenges.

So I’ve noticed this is a pattern with ExxonMobil, which seems to always just happen to run a corporate responsibility ad next to NYT op-eds and stories that have to do with global warming. So is the NYT ad sales staff selling against this content? Does ExxonMobil have a standing request to place ads next to global warming content? Or is it all a coincidence? (And don’t forget that ExxonMobil also sponsored all the major election coverage in 2006. Maybe because it didn’t like the fact that lawmakers were beginning to stand up to it.)

Back to this particular ad. Follow the link and you learn that ExxonMobil is touting its program to take waste from its operations (presumably tar, how innovative) and turn it into roadbeds, “another example of how we’re maximizing energy output while minimizing environmental impact.” Not harm, not damage, mind you, impact.

More outrageous is the list of links on this page to other of ExxonMobil’s good works, including…wait for it…”Promoting math and science in the classroom.” This from the company that funds 40 think tanks that expressly deny the science of global warming.

What are these efforts that ExxonMobil is making to addle, uh, improve the minds of our children? Further down the line of links we learn that:

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson made the announcement in Dallas on Oct. 6, where he was joined by PGA Tour golfer Phil Mickelson, astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris and several prominent educators. The first step in ExxonMobil’s expanded educational outreach is to significantly broaden the scope of programs founded by Mickelson and Harris and supported by the company.

ExxonMobil will add new sessions of the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camps, providing funding to universities for 20 camps across the U.S. Designed to enhance students’ knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, camp activities include classroom study, experiments, individual/team/group projects, weekly field excursions and guest speakers who motivate and inspire students.

The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers’ Academy, launched in 2005 as an annual event in Fairfax, Va., will expand to new academies in Texas and Louisiana. The Academy was created to provide selected third- through fifth-grade teachers from school districts around the country an opportunity to enhance their math and science teaching skills, and discover new ways to motivate their students. With the new locations, 600 teachers will have an opportunity to attend the academies annually.

In addition to expanding its support of the Harris and Mickelson programs, ExxonMobil announced continued funding for Reasoning Mind, Inc., and UTeach. Reasoning Mind is developing an innovative Internet-based learning environment for fifth- and sixth-grade math students. UTeach is a unique University of Texas program that prepares and supports secondary math and science teachers.

So, helping ExxonMobil (at best) whitewash its horrible environmental image and (at worst) spread misinformation to teachers and students is a champion golfer, an astronaut, and UT. Hook ’em horns!

By the way, that ice shelf? That’s really bad news. Read more about what it means here and here.


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