For years we've watched as the corporate-funded "fauxcademic" group the Heartland Institute took tobacco-industry money, then argued that the industry's ties to cancer deaths were based on "junk science." They've been very active on the broadband front, taking money from incumbent ISPs and then arguing how there is no broadband price, coverage or speed issues
, while also fighting tooth and nail
against the rights of towns and cities to wire themselves.
The public health community's campaign to demonize smokers and all forms of tobacco is based on junk science.
Heartland isn't having a very good week, with leaked documents and e-mails showcasing how the firm takes corporate cash to sow seeds of doubt about established science and indisputable data. While they have always hidden their funding, the documents show the company takes money from AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The documents also show how they're well funded by corporations to attack climate science, particularly in the classroom
After the story percolated for a few days, Heartland released a statement
claiming that one of the documents in the leak was a forgery. "One document, titled 'Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,' is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute," says the group, which goes on to insist that "honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours." However, much of what's in the supposedly fake document is supported in the other documents Heartland apparently acknowledges as genuine.
If you're familiar with the group's actions in the slightest, it is clear that "honest disagreement" has never been on the agenda. On the broadband side, Heartland has contributed to no limit of polluted discourse, using completely bogus science from other incumbent ISP-tied organizations
to endlessly dispute
clear data showing that U.S. broadband needs a lot of work. They were also instrumental in pushing the "Exaflood
" myth, or the idea that the Internet will collapse from traffic growth unless ISPs get what they want (higher prices, no consumer protections, deregulation, no net neutrality rules).
While the climate side of the story will see the most contentious debate, the most interesting bit here on the telecom front is that the ties between the company and their incumbent ISP donors have been clearly highlighted. It's doubtful that anyone at AT&T, Comcast or Time Warner Cable will want to go on the record to discuss their involvement with such a group.