Climate Deniers Spread Conspiracies, Disinformation, Hate in Wake of Capitol Riot

January 9, 2021

Climate Denial Kingpin Marc Morano (above), who I interviewed in 2012 at a science denial conference, hates masks, doesn’t believe in science generally, and joined in spreading conspiracies and hate speech in the wake of this week’s attempted Trump coup. Covid seems to have sent my poor friend Marc around the bend.

Do we get who and what everybody is now?


Some climate deniers, including some with ties to the Heartland Institute and other organizations that have historically helped to create the false impression that there is sizeable scientific disagreement on climate change, also directly expressed support for the attackers and called for more violence.

“Striking fear in politicians is not a bad thing,” the @ClimateDepot Twitter account tweeted on the afternoon of January 6 in a message describing the Capitol as then-“under siege.”

“Thomas Jefferson: ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” @ClimateDepot tweeted seconds later.

“What’s needed next is mass protests to storm state Capitols and the CDC to end Covid lockdowns once and for all,” the thread continued, referring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The @ClimateDepot Twitter accountcreated in April 2009, is held by Marc Morano, the communications director for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank with a history of receiving funding from ExxonMobil and the conservative dark money organization Donors Trust. Morano serves as the executive director of CFACT’s website, which as DeSmog’s database profile puts it, “regularly publishes articles questioning man-made global warming.”

Morano has for many years played a prominent role in the climate denial movement. The Heartland Institute currently maintains a biography of Morano under its “Who We Are” section, noting his prior role as a “climate researcher for U.S. Senator James Inhofe,” who has regularly made speeches rejecting mainstream climate science. Rolling Stone once called Morano “the Matt Drudge of climate denial.” He more recently authored a book titled, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change. CFACT’s most recent tax filings show Morano was its highest-compensated employee, bringing in over $209,000 in pay and benefits in 2018.

On January 6, after the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) — whose board of directors includes senior officials with ExxonMobil and numerous other fossil fuel companies — posted a statement condemning the violence at the Capitol Building, @ClimateDepot retweeted a reply to that statement reading: “NAM has always been a bootlicking organization groveling at the booted feet of their governmental masters.”

Many fossil fuel industry groups immediately condemned the insurgency in statements or social media posts, and some long-time climate deniers did as well. But Morano was not the only prominent science denier to express support online for the mob attack in D.C.

William M. Briggsdescribed by the Heartland Institute as one of its policy advisors, published a post on January 7 headlined, “we fought the good fight and we lost — this battle.” In the piece, Briggs claims that “Congress had an unarmed Air Force veteran shot and killed” and misleadingly claims that “the crowd, by doing very little, by remaining inside the tourist ropes inside the building, even, forced the startled regime into hiding.”

Can we go back in time and shoot one of them?— William M Briggs (@FamedCelebrity) January 7, 2021

“The goal isn’t necessarily to convince anyone of anything,” Melissa Ryan, author of the Ctrl Alt-Right Delete weekly newsletter covering the alt-right and CEO of CARD Strategies, told DeSmog. “The goal is to sow so much confusion that it’s actually hard for people to tell the truth from fiction.”

That misinformation benefits the far-right, she said.

“They did the same after Charlottesville,” said Ryan, who has previously written about interactions between climate deniers and QAnon conspiracy theorists. “They do the same after any of their protests that cause violence. The goal is to cause confusion amongst viewers, those amongst their audience that might have a little trepidation about being associated with violent extremist groups, so ‘both sides’ is sort of how they neutralize that.”

Several accounts associated with climate science deniers focused in particular on pictures of Jake Angeli, who wore face paint and a horned helmet on January 6, with these accounts suggesting that Angeli was a member of antifa. Angeli, however, is better known as “the QAnon shaman.”

“He’s absolutely a QAnon right-wing follower,” said Ryan.

3 Responses to “Climate Deniers Spread Conspiracies, Disinformation, Hate in Wake of Capitol Riot”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Somehow these anti-mask, pro-FREEDUMB snowflakes have had no problem with permanent laws requiring them to cover their genitals, but temporary practical, responsible measures to protect public health are concerned about social overreach.

    Ask them, for the record, what their positions on burn bans are.

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      Freedumb: Stolen keeper.
      Has anyone else noted that freedom screamers avoid mentioning responsibility?

  2. smithpd1 Says:

    Thanks for pointing out Marc Morano and other climate deniers were never motivated by “skepticism” of science but rather by right-wing hatred, then and now. This is not at all surprising.

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