Pranksters create turmoil at National Press Club
The Washington Post reports that a press conference held at the National Press Club today (Oct 19) purporting to be a statement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reversing its position on climate change is a hoax.
Environmental activists held a hoax press conference Monday morning, pretending to be the business group -- and pretending to announce that the chamber was dropping its opposition to climate-change legislation now in Congress.
The event, complete with fake handouts on chamber letterhead, at least a couple of fake reporters, and a podium adorned with the chamber logo, broke up when a spokesman from the real chamber burst in.
The Post also reported that the prankster was confronted by an official from the real Chamber of Commerce who shouted that the giant business lobby has not changed its mind about global warming.
"This guy is a fake! He's lying! This is a stunt that I've never seen before," said Eric Wohlschlegel, an official at the actual Chamber of Commerce, who said he'd heard about the hoax event from a reporter who'd mistakenly shown up at the chamber's headquarters.
The fake Chamber of Commerce official, who called himself "Hingo Sembra," did not give his real name to reporters, saying only that he represented a coalition of climate activists.
The Guardian UK also reported that the event was a hoax, and it worked way too well.
In today's instant news era, that wasn't quite soon enough. Several green organizations tweeted or blogged on the about-face. Reuters news agency put out a straight news story about the Chamber's apparent U-turn, and the Washington Post and New York Times put the story on their news sites (both later removed the stories from their websites). CNBC actually sought – and got – comment from analysts. It also broke its programming to have a reporter read out the fake press release.
Another “balloon boy” stunt baffles the media
It looks like the mainstream news media has been taken in by another “balloon boy” story. However, it doesn't detract from how serious the issue is or how ticked off some of the Chamber's dues paying members are about the issue.
In recent weeks dues paying members like Exelon (NYSE:EXC), the nation’s largest nuclear energy utility, and Apple Computer (NASDAQ:APPL), quit in protest over the Chamber’s head-in-the-sand views on climate change legislation.
The prospects of empty pockets became real as its members did the unthinkable, and in independent, but unprecedented, actions, walked away from the top business lobby group in the country because it was unyielding in its opposition to President Obama’s climate change initiatives.
In the view of this blog the Chamber, and the remaining business groups that support it, ought to try science instead of politics. Then they won’t have to eat nearly so much crow when they do change their minds for real.
Video of the hoax press conference
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