Barbara Boxer

Watch Barbara Boxer Falsely Accuse Reason of Trying to "undermine climate science"

Senator calls one of her own constituents a "puppet of the fossil fuel industry"


Yesterday, in the spirit of Californian collegiality, I tried to warn Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that if she went ahead with her planned smear against the Reason Foundation as being part of a so-called "web of denial" over climate science, she would be lying. Sadly, the senator did not take my friendly advice.

"I want to work with my colleagues to call attention to this web of denial," Boxer said during a 15-minute speech on the Senate floor. "I want to talk to you briefly about three organizations based in my home state—the Reason Foundation, the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, and the Hoover Institution. These three organizations have been involved in efforts to undermine climate science. The Reason Foundation has been churning out materials to raise to uncertainty."

Boxer didn't cite any examples of said material, and in fact didn't say anything else specific about our work. So let me help her.

Every month, like clockwork, Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey publishes the latest findings from the global satellite temperature record, as measured by the University of Alabama at Huntsville. He's been doing that regularly for the past six years or so. For instance, on July 1, Bailey wrote a post headlined "June 2016 Was 2nd Warmest June in Satellite Record: Global Temperature Trend Update;" one month before that he wrote "May 2016 Was the Second Warmest May in the Satellite Record: Global Temperature Update," and so on. I would love to hear Boxer explain how keeping track of and publicizing the work of the scientists who are measuring the temperature of the planet amounts to undermining climate science.

Boxer closed her remarks with the stirring sentiment that "The truth will have its day." But not before positing as "truth" that "these organizations are puppets of the big fossil fuel industry," and are engaged in the act of spreading "phony science." That's one helluva way for a California senator to talk about a California-based foundation with a long and honorable record of (among many other things) working with the California government to improve California transportation. In fairness, the senator just might have no idea what she's talking about, given that during this same speech she referred to a former U.S. secretary of state as "Charles Schulz."

Watch for yourself; the Reason stuff kicks in after minute 10.

Regrettably, as I explained yesterday and Bailey the day before that, this name-and-shame campaign is not limited to comically inaccurate smears from the Senate floor—it involves prosecutorial fishing expeditions through the communications and donor records of think tanks perceived to be on the opposite side of an issue Democrats feel frustrated about. The effort is a naked attempt to punish and even prosecute organizations based on the content of their speech, and discourage donors from wanting to touch these organizations with a 10-foot stick. Boxer should be ashamed of herself not just for speaking gross untruths about her own constituents, but for gleefully encouraging the use of government power to punish people for expressing opinions she doesn't like. That is the work of authoritarians, not democrats.