- Take Action
- Latest News
- About Us
- Why Donate?
Anxious Al Caruba
Alan Caruba is a public relations professional who is so anxious about issues like environmentalism, immigration and the United Nations that he runs the National Anxiety Center. Caruba, who states on his website that his clients include or have included "chemical and pharmaceutical companies, think tanks [and] trade associations," writes a weekly column, called "Warning Signs," which is run by conservative websites.
In a late January column, Caruba, an "adjunct fellow" at the anti-environmentalist Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (CDFE), expressed anxiety over our SourceWatch article on his friend Michael Fumento. The title of his column was "Smearing Conservative Writers."
SourceWatch references recent revelations by BusinessWeek that Monsanto funded Fumento's 1999 book BioEvolution, a fact not disclosed to readers of the book or of his later columns, some of which praised the biotech Goliath. The BusinessWeek article, Caruba speculated, had "nothing to do with [Fumento's] ethics and everything to do with a leftist attack intended to smear his reputation and hopefully remove a leading critic of environmentalism and other manifestations of dubious science intended to frighten people."
But Caruba's Center for Media and Democracy-induced anxiety didn't stop there. He went on to imply /that the book Mad Cow USA, co-authored by CMD's John Stauber and Sheldon Ramption, is irrational and extremist since, according to Caruba, "there has never been a case of this [mad cow] disease in the U.S.A."
Caruba then claimed that "folks like those at SourceWatch" can easily be dismissed, since they receive funding from "left-wing foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, and MacArthur, as well as unions, trade associations, companies, and activist organizations that seek a competitive edge or want to influence public policy." Members of the public who support organizations like CMD, he wrote, have been so "intensely propagandized" that they "believe that global warming is something other than a normal climate cycle."
Caruba's column also extolled the virtues of fact checking, a practice he claimed to have mastered as the editor of a small weekly newspaper. But how well did Anxious Al check his facts?
Some Warnings on 'Warning Signs'
Caruba wrote, "There has never been a case of this [mad cow] disease in the U.S.A."
Where has Caruba been the past two years?
On December 23, 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the first confirmed domestic case of mad cow disease, on a Washington state farm. In June 2005, the agency confirmed a second case of mad cow disease, in a Texas animal.
Did Rip van Caruba sleep through these major news items on the international spread of an always-fatal dementia-causing disease? Apparently not, as his June 24, 2005 column declared "Mad Cows Don't Scare Me!" In it, Caruba noted but downplayed the significance of the USDA announcements. The column also failed to acknowledge Stauber and Rampton's prescient reporting (Mad Cow USA was first published in 1997), but we're sure Caruba meant to mention our work.
SourceWatch, Caruba complained, "lists Boringinstitute.com, the site for a media spoof I created in 1984 that hasn't been on the Internet since 2004" as one of his current sites. Fair point. The SourceWatch article on Alan Caruba, which was created in 2003, hadn't clarified that Caruba had since abandoned the Boringinstitute.com site. (It does now.)
But neither does the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise's website, where Caruba is listed as an adjunct fellow. His CDFE profile currently states, "Mr. Caruba maintains www.boringinstitute.com as the site of his famed media spoof and clearinghouse for information about boredom." Anxious Al should call CDFE to get that updated!
Caruba also complained that the SourceWatch article on him listed together websites which he owns and/or maintains, and websites which name him as a contact for journalists. The article now distinguishes between the two, and we appreciate him clarifying his online activities to us. (We clearly state that SourceWatch articles, as collaborative efforts, are works in progress.)
Caruba wrote that "folks like those at SourceWatch" are funded by "left-wing foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, and MacArthur, as well as unions, trade associations, companies, and activist organizations that seek a competitive edge or want to influence public policy."
This sleight of hand is intended to give the impression that Caruba is listing actual CMD funders, but none of those named are, or have been, donors to CMD. This fact is easily checked, since (unlike Michael Fumento) CMD lists its foundation funders -- going back to 1993! -- on its website.
To maintain journalistic independence, CMD "does not accept corporate or government grants." We do accept "contributions from individuals and non-profit organizations," but to date these supporters have not included unions or trade associations. Maybe this clarification will help Al feel less anxious.
Caruba claimed that global warming is just a "normal climate cycle."
We're sure that Exxon Mobil, which contributed $130,000 to CDFE in 2004 for "global climate change issues," appreciates this sentiment. But Caruba must be getting very lonely with his climate change skepticism.
The Pentagon and the nuclear industry both acknowledge that human-induced greenhouse emissions are contributing to climate change. Even George W. Bush stated in June 2005, "We know that the surface of the Earth is warmer, and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem." But perhaps Caruba thinks that the U.S. president has embraced "dubious science intended to frighten people."
As independent researchers, we couldn't agree more with Caruba about the importance of checking facts before publication. However, we are starting to doubt that Caruba will correct his errors. After informing him of original blog post he responded in an email appreciative that I had linked to the biographical note on his site. "Who knows, I may get some new business," he wrote. It seems that Caruba expects basic standards of accuracy and corrections apply only to others.