Conservative think-tanks with a history of climate change denial are promoting a social media campaign branding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) “Green New Deal” package as the “Fyre Festival” of political legislation.
The campaign picked up when Steve Bannon’s protégé Raheem Kassam published an op-ed on Thursday for The Daily Caller titled “The Green New Deal Is The Fyre Festival Of Politics.” Comparing the legislation’s cheerleader Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to Fyre’s conman Billy McFarland, Kassam speculated that “socialism will help keep us away from knee-jerk responses that would wreck communities and industries.”
“Honestly… I was glad Billy had done what Billy had done,” wrote Kassam. “And I’m glad Ocasio-Cortez is leading the charge for higher taxes; unreasonable renewable energy targets; and haphazardly attempting to tie identity politics to climate change.”
The piece was blasted out by Fox News host Mark Levin to his 1.48 million followers. President Donald Trump’s advisor Jason Miller and One America News Network’s Jack Posobiec also shared the op-ed to their massive social media audiences.
In his author bio, Kassam lists himself as a fellow at the Claremont Institute. The right-leaning think tank in California has a history of promoting climate change skepticism. In a 2015 article for the organization’s book review titled “The Church of Environmentalism,” fellow Jeremy Carl accused the environmental movement of a “religious fervor” and said the decision “to halt and reverse global warming” must “be considered apart from the research of environmental scientists.”
The group also takes in money from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, according to Source Watch, which regularly funds think tanks that promote climate change denial messaging, including the Heartland Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
“Claremont is a number of these lofty sounding institutions that is essentially a front group for the Koch groups and the Scaife foundations,” Michael Mann, a climate scientist and the director of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Center, told Observer.
Another right-leaning think tank also seized off the Green New Deal—Fyre Festival comparison on Friday morning.
“The ‘Green New Deal’ is totally Fyre!” tweeted the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).
According to the libertarian think tank’s website, “CEI questions global warming alarmism, makes the case for access to affordable energy, and opposes energy-rationing policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade legislation, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Like the Claremont Institute, CEI also takes in money from the Sarah Scaife Foundation—and millions more from Exxon Mobil.
“They’ve become very effective at exploiting Facebook and Twitter to launder their talking points and their memes,” explained Mann. “I also believe these institutes are part of an ecosystem in the modern media environment that includes true fake news.”
The Green New Deal came under fire after Ocasio-Cortez debuted its framework on Thursday, with many taking issue with vague language in the non-binding resolution.
“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told POLITICO the day prior. “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”