This is CNN, where environmental activists can launch their blistering attacks on man-made global warming skeptics without much of a challenge. On Tuesday's Starting Point, actress and activist Daryl Hannah promoted her new documentary "Greedy, Lying Bastards" that hits the funding and falsehoods behind global warming skepticism.
Hannah was able to slam "false information" by the Koch brothers, compare herself to Martin Luther King, and call for the "eradication" of Citizens United during the interview. CNN completely ignored that the director and writer of her film, Craig Rosebraugh, was a fomer spokesman for eco-terrorist groups for years before abandoning his work.
At least The Oregonian newspaper took the trouble to provide such background context for the film that CNN ignored.
Man-made climate change skeptics have fared much worse than Hannah on CNN. For instance, on December 4 CNN host Piers Morgan teamed up with scientist Bill Nye against skeptic Marc Morano. Morgan even lectured his guest that "I respect that you have views. I don't think they're facts, and there are many scientists who would take issue with you about the use of the word 'fact.'"
On November 1, Morgan defended New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "very pertinent point" that Hurricane Sandy was probably brought about by global warming, and he again lectured skeptics that "it depends whether you believe the science or not."
Such hostility was nowhere to be found on Tuesday's Starting Point. Host Soledad O'Brien even promoted Hannah's documentary. "That's one of the most powerful lines. 'They're in the business of selling doubt,'" she marveled at a movie line on global warming skeptics. "And it's that doubt that keeps this conversation, I think, about global warming going."
O'Brien prodded Hannah to deliver her activist message. "What was your personal interest in this? I mean, why climate change and environmental issues overall for you? You've gotten arrested because of your passion for some of these topics."
That teed up Hannah to compare her cause to that of Martin Luther King: "Well you know first of all, I don't think that that's something that's really so bad. I mean, Martin Luther King was arrested 30 times before he was the age of 39 to right incredible wrongs. And we're at a time of extreme crises. I mean, we are facing a possible threat to our very life support systems."
Hannah also claimed the Koch brothers spread falsehoods about global warming. "But then, yet, they will still funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure that climate legislation isn't passed. That there's false information put out about the climate crisis and also about clean energy and its possibilities."
Those were only some of many claims Hannah made during the interview that CNN mostly left unchallenged. "It opens nationwide in theaters on Friday," O'Brien closed the segment promoting the film.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on Starting Point on March 5 at 8:49 a.m. EST, is as follows:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Daryl Hannah has been with us all morning. She's also the executive producer of a new movie which is called "Greedy, Lying Bastards". It's causing some major buzz, not just for the name. The film takes a look at campaigns that deny climate change. Let's play a little clip.
MARC MORANO: We actually have had no significant warming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The breakup of the ice at the North Pole is not unusual.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. There is no scientific basis for alarm.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC host: Are you guys funded in part by Exxon?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Verily, but why did you imagine that Exxon give you money?
Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D-Calif.): The fossil fuel industries have an enormous amount of clout.
The Koch Brothers, for example, gave millions and millions of dollars to Republican efforts to not do anything to fight climate change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They basically are in the business of selling doubt.
(End Video Clip)
O'BRIEN: That's one of the most powerful lines. "They're in the business of selling doubt." And it's that doubt that keeps this conversation, I think, about global warming going.
DARYL HANNAH, actress, activist: It's true because there is actually a consensus that it is happening. And that it is also human caused. However – and even, what's really interesting, is even Rex Tillerson from Exxon now has finally acknowledged that climate change is actually happening. Even the Koch Brothers I mean, you know, they will publicly come out and acknowledge it.
But then, yet, they will still funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure that climate legislation isn't passed. That there's false information put out about the climate crisis and also about clean energy and its possibilities.
So while they – they want to, you know, not seem like idiots and say, well, nothing is happening when you can obviously it's so clear now. We've got epic droughts. I mean, unprecedented droughts in the Midwest, in our bread basket of our country. We've got wildfires and superstorms and floods. And I mean, Arctic ice sheets melting in unprecedented fashions, et cetera. It's impossible to deny those facts, simple facts. Like you put the pH strip in the ocean, it's 30 percent more acid than it ever it has been.
O'BRIEN: What was your personal interest in this? I mean, why climate change and environmental issues overall for you? You've gotten arrested because of your passion for some of these topics.
JOHN BERMAN: Many times.
O'BRIEN: Yeah. A handful of times.
HANNAH: Well you know first of all, I don't think that that's something that's really so bad. I mean, Martin Luther King was arrested 30 times before he was the age of 39 to right incredible wrongs. And we're at a time of extreme crises. I mean, we are facing a possible threat to our very life support systems.
I mean, a week and a half ago, the World Bank – the World Bank – who financed most of these large fossil fuel projects, you know, mega dams, et cetera, put out their own report on the climate crisis. And it was, like, the worst horror film I've ever seen in my life. It was the scariest scenario.
They said that if we raise the temperature of the earth four degrees Celsius, essentially it's total systems collapse, mass starvation, mass extinctions, disease. I mean the picture that they portray in their report was so horrifying that they had no choice but to make urgent recommendations to make radical changes, to stop fossil fuels immediately.
O'BRIEN: Do you think you're getting –
HANNAH: And that's from the World Bank.
CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, Wall Street Journal: You know what's the takeaway here? What do you want people who watch the film to do when they leave the theater?
HANNAH: Well, to -- to hold these fossil fuel companies accountable. Because, see, I believe that they're – first of all, I believe Citizens United needs to be eradicated. This ruling that gave corporations the right of a person – because now politicians are doing the bidding of corporations and not doing – not doing representing us, we the people.
They're representing the corporations, because now corporations can give them money to their campaigns. They can, you know, basically send hundreds of lobbyists to make sure that they keep the pressure on so that the politicians are doing their will. And when that's all the messaging that they get, they're going to do it. You know, what did Upton Sinclair say? You know you can't – a guy is not going to do something when his salary depends upon him doing it.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN contributor: Daryl how do you – how do you counter though, the economic argument. Because what happens in this country any time you try to propose any change, folks will say oh it's going to cost us billions. It's going to wreck the economy. We're going to lose jobs. And that all this causes somebody to go –
O'BRIEN: Are you picking the environment over human beings and livelihood?
MARTIN: Right, people go, oh, my God. We can't lose jobs.
HANNAH: Well here's – here's the deal. What we're talking about is protecting our ability to survive and our – and our vital life support systems. Now, there's a way to do that and still create jobs that are domestic jobs with safe, clean energy. And that's where we should be putting all of our resources. Not just allowing these companies who are essentially raping and pillaging our ecosystems because they are making record profits. Even in this economy.
The oil – the fossil fuel industry is the wealthiest industry in the history of money. In the history of money, and yet we're still paying, you know, through the roof just for our gallons of gas to go to, you know, to take our kids to school. It is unethical, it's wrong. And now we're going to extreme forms of extraction just to get that fuel because we've run out of the easy-to-get stuff. We have to blow up entire mountain tops. We're just decimating our oldest mountain range in the Appalachians.
MARTIN: I take it you're against Keystone.
HANNAH: The Keystone which is a – this is something I think we would all be united on because it's not a polarizing issue. It's a foreign company coming into our country, taking our farmers' and ranchers' lands through eminent domain, which is supposed to be only used for national security. But in this case, this pipeline which is going to be carrying corrosive tar sand sludge, it has to be pushed through at 150 degrees with toxic chemicals, is only going down to the Gulf of Mexico so that they can export it. They say that in their own documents. This is not for energy security for America. This is not going to affect our gasoline prices except for possibly to raise them, because the price per barrel that they can get down in the Gulf of Mexico to export is $20 higher a barrel.
O'BRIEN: The issue is a tough one.
HANNAH: And they try to confuse you. That's what it is.
O'BRIEN: Well that is –
MARTIN: You're slightly passionate about this.
HANNAH: It's very infuriating. I mean, it's outrageous. It should be illegal to do what they do. It should be illegal.
O'BRIEN: The film is called "Greedy, Lying Bastards".
MARTIN: Cut right to the chase.
O'BRIEN: Yeah, it really does, doesn't it? Nice to have you talk about it. It opens nationwide in theaters on Friday.