Competitive Enterprise Institute

Founded in 1984 by Fred Smith, CEI is a Washington - based conservative think tank "whose research on public policy reflects the principles of free enterprise, individual liberty and limited government." CEI is at the center of the global warming misinformation campaign.

CEI calls itself "a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government." The Boston Globe has called it "one of Washington's feistiest think tanks." CEI's commentaries frequently appear in media venues such as ABC's 20/20, American Spectator, Christian Science Monitor, Consumers' Research, Crossfire, Forbes, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, Moneyline, New York Times, Policy Review, PBS, Reader's Digest, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Washington Times.

It postures as an advocate of "sound science" in the development of public policy. In fact, it is an ideologically-driven, well-funded front for corporations opposed to safety and environmental regulations that affect the way they do business.

CEI, among many other statements denying the seriousness of global warming, has argued that climate change would create a "milder, greener, more prosperous world" and that "Kyoto was a power grab based on deception and fear" (R. Brunet, "It Just Ain't So, Say These Reputable Scientists" Alberta Report, 10 November, v.24(48) 1997 p20-21). In addition to leading the campaign to convince the public that global warming is uncertain, CEI has weighed in on pesticide risk and endocrine disrupting chemicals - both of which pose no threat to human health, in CEI's view - and has supported regulatory "takings" measures.

With more than a $3 million annual budget, CEI is supported by both conservative foundations and corporate funding. Known corporate funders in addition to ExxonMobil include the American Petroleum Institute, Cigna Corporation, Dow Chemical, EBCO Corp, General Motors, and IBM. One of CEI's prominent funders is conservative Richard Scaife who has provided money through the Carthage and Sara Scaife Foundations. CEI is also heavily supported by the various Koch brother foundations.

Nieman Watchdog:
My case in point is the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Merely between 2000 and 2003, Chris Mooney reported in Mother Jones magazine, ExxonMobil gave the CEI $1,380,000 (and several million dollars more to some 40 other opinion-influencing groups). Thanks to additional shrewd investments in CEI made by cigarette makers, drug companies and the rest, its annual budget had reached $3 million by 2002.

It's Journalism 101 to follow the money. In the case of think tanks, with few exceptions, the Post, Times and other mainstream news organizations have failed for years to do it. In the case of the CEI, they've repeatedly cringed from describing it as the industry-funded think tank it plainly is. Instead, they've applied such sanitizing labels as "libertarian," "business libertarian," "conservative," and "free-market."

Perhaps the most mealy-mouthed description of all appeared last November in a Washington Post story on new government drug-safety initiatives. The CEI, the article said, is "a nonprofit public policy organization dedicated to the principle of limited government." This is a classic entry in the annals of fact as the enemy of truth.


PBS' Ifill failed to identify CEI as conservative, energy industry-funded
ExxonMobil Stops Funding Competitive Enterprise Institute

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