UPDATED: Despite Hannity scandal, Stossel's energy institute fundraiser hasn't been canceled

Blog ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN & TODD GREGORY

Three weeks ago, Media Matters reported that Fox host John Stossel is scheduled to keynote an upcoming fundraising luncheon for a "research" organization with heavy ties to the energy industry and whose research and representatives have repeatedly appeared on Fox.

Today, Media Matters confirmed that -- despite the ethical fallout from Sean Hannity's recent Cincinnati Tea Party scandal -- the Stossel fundraising event is scheduled to go forward as planned.

The organization, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), says on the event's website that Stossel will keynote the June 4 luncheon in Houston. IER confirmed to Media Matters today that Stossel will still be speaking at the event. IER said it had arranged Stossel's appearance through a speaker's bureau and had not been in touch with Fox. Last fall, The New York Times reported that "a Fox spokesperson said all speeches given by employees require approval from the network."

IER lists several levels of "sponsorship" for the event. For $2,500, a "Silver Sponsor" and two guests get to attend a private reception with Stossel, while a "Gold Sponsor" pays $5,000 and can attend the reception with four guests. For $7,500, a "Platinum Sponsor" gets a "[c]onference call with John Stossel leading up to event, Private reception with John Stossel, and photo op for you and your guests":

sponsorship levels

A promotional video on the luncheon's site features footage of Stossel's program on the Fox Business Network. IER's description of the event says that "Mr. Stossel is an important partner in our battle for increased liberty in American energy markets" and highlights Stossel's roles on Fox Business and Fox News:

Mr. Stossel joined Fox Business Network (FBN) in October of 2009. He is the host of "Stossel," a weekly program that uses a libertarian viewpoint to highlight current consumer issues. He also appears regularly on Fox News Channel (FNC), where he provides his signature on-point analysis.

The site doesn't say whether Stossel is being paid for his appearance. However, after The New York Times published an article about Stossel making a paid speech to a group opposed to health care reform last fall, Stossel told the Baltimore Sun that he frequently makes speeches and donates the money to charity:

"I have always made speeches, and I have always given the money to charity," he says. "Some of the groups are controversial or involved in political debates. And the Times never wrote an article about it until I got to Fox. So I think it says more about the Times than it does about me."

IER says that it "maintains that freely-functioning energy markets provide the most efficient and effective solutions to today's global energy and environmental challenges." According to Media Matters' partner organization, the Media Matters Action Network, IER received $337,000 from ExxonMobil between 2002 and 2007. IER's president is Thomas Pyle, who previously lobbied for Koch Industries, a large private company with heavy interests in the oil industry. A report by Greenpeace recently detailed the Koch empire's extensive donations to organizations skeptical of global warming; it said that IER received $175,000 from Koch-related foundations between 2005 and 2008. Rush Limbaugh has called IER "the energy equivalent of the Heritage Foundation. Great people."

Twice on March 31, IER spokesman Patrick Creighton appeared on Fox to assail the Obama administration's environmental policies. On Special Report, one of Fox News' "straight news" programs, Creighton said the administration's policy amounted to the "Tonya Harding approach" -- that is, "you break your opponents' kneecaps to get ahead." Earlier in the day on Happening Now, Creighton argued that the administration's plan to open new stretches of coastline to oil and gas exploration didn't go far enough:

On the April 2 edition of Fox Business Network's Happy Hour, host Eric Bolling cited IER's research in criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency's fuel efficiency standards:

UPDATE: Just yesterday, Howard Kurtz reported that in the wake of the Hannity Tea Party scandal, "I am told by sources that Fox now plans to keep a tighter rein on Hannity and others."

UPDATE II: Joe Strupp reports that business news veterans say Stossel's planned IER appearance "raises concerns about ethics and conflict of interest."

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