Is the DeSmogBlog a source for fact-based reporting?

CLAIM: The DeSmogBlog claims to be a “source for accurate, fact based information.”

RATING: 50% False

While the DeSmogBlog may claim to be “clearing the PR pollution that clouds climate science,” the reality is the blog itself is the product of a for-profit public relations firm seeking for further their client’s interests.

Created in 2006, the DeSmogBlog is a project of James Hoggan & Associates, a Vancouver-based strategic communications firm whose clients include Alcoa and BC Hydro. The firm has used the blog to promote favorable narratives about its clients, including a post applauding Alcoa’s participation in a coalition calling for reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions.

Conflict of interests aside, the blog’s financial backers raise additional questions about editorial influence as well as the overall prestige the website claims to command. Initial funding for the DeSmogBlog came from John Lefebvre, who in 1999 co-founded the online payment processing platform formally known as NETeller.

In 2007, two years after cashing in $123 million worth of NETeller shares, Lefebvre “was arrested by FBI agents at his Malibu home and charged with conspiring to promote illegal gambling by transferring billions of dollars of cyberspace bets placed by U.S. citizens with offshore gambling companies,” according to the Vancouver Sun. He later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to promote illegal online gambling, forfeiting tens of millions of dollars and serving several months in prison.

Since then, the blog has been has continued to receive support from Hoggan’s firm as well as periodic grants from a variety of activist-driven philanthropic foundations, including the Sustainable Markets Foundation, Tides Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Collectively, these three organizations alone have given over $125,000 to the blog since 2010, according to tax filings reviewed by GAINFactChecker.org. These organizations have openly vowed to campaign against some of the same issues that receive consistent negative coverage from the DeSmogBlog, including pipeline infrastructure projects.

Bottom line, the DeSmogBlog is a public relations tool used to advance client interests and not a source of objective, fact-based reporting.