Why Has Bloomberg Given Robert Bryce A Platform To Attack Renewables Without Disclosing That Oil Pays His Salary?

Bloomberg has published several columns by contributor Robert Bryce that either attack renewable energy or promote oil without disclosing that he is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for Energy Policy and the Environment, which has long received significant funding from ExxonMobil.

Bloomberg Turns To Manhattan Institute's Robert Bryce To Attack Renewable Energy And Promote Oil And Nuclear

Bloomberg Has Published Several Op-Eds By Robert Bryce That Promote Dirty Energy Or Attack Renewables. Since September 2013, Bloomberg has published several op-eds by Bryce that either attacked renewable energies or promoted oil. The articles included:

  • Corn Ethanol Is Worse Than Keystone [Bloomberg, 6/2/15]
  • Biofuels Are a Bad Idea [Bloomberg, 5/8/14]
  • Oil's Bright Future [Bloomberg, 5/7/14]
  • Forty Years After OPEC Embargo, U.S. Is Energy Giant [Bloomberg, 10/10/13]
  • Four Numbers Say Wind and Solar Can't Save Climate [Bloomberg, 9/20/13]

But Bloomberg Has Not Disclosed Bryce's Oil Industry Ties. Bloomberg identifies Bryce as simply “a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of 'Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong.'” [Bloomberg, accessed 6/8/15]

Bryce Is Frequently Quoted And Published In The Media But Not Fully Identified. A Media Matters analysis found that in 2011, Bryce was quoted at least 39 times in energy issue stories that didn't disclose his ties to the oil industry. [Media Matters, 10/7/11]

Bryce's Organization Receives Significant Funding From The Oil Industry

Bryce Is The Manhattan Institute's “Senior Fellow For Center For Energy Policy.” The Manhattan Institute lists four senior fellows as “experts” on its webpage for its Center for Energy Policy and the Environment. Of those, Robert Bryce is the only fellow exclusively attached to the Center. [Manhattan Institute, accessed 6/8/15; accessed 6/8/15

ExxonMobil Has Given At Least $800,000 To The Manhattan Institute.  ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil refiner, has donated hundreds of thousands to the Manhattan Institute. According to ExxonMobil's 2014 Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments report, the company donated $100,000 to Manhattan Institute's Center for Energy Policy last year. ExxonMobil's annual reports show that the company has given to Manhattan Institute nearly every year from 1998 to 2014, with the amount from that period totaling $800,000. [ExxonMobil Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments, 2014;  2013; ExxonSecrets, accessed 6/8/15]

Manhattan Institute Has Also Received Millions From Koch-Affiliated Organizations. The Manhattan Institute has been given over $1.9 million from the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, whose board of directors includes Charles Koch and his wife. The Kochs made their fortune from oil and currently have significant holdings in oil and gas operations. [Greenpeace.org, accessed 6/8/15; Media Matters, 8/27/14; CNBC, 1/20/15]

Journalists, Educators Urge Full Disclosure Of Op-Ed Writers' Industry Ties

Reporters, Editors, And Teachers Singled Out Bryce In Call For Stronger Conflict Of Interest Disclosures. In an October 6 letter to the public editor of The New York Times, 50 journalists and educators wrote:

Unfortunately, when media outlets quote or publish op-eds from “bought and biased” pundits, the conflict of interest goes unmentioned. Instead, Mr. Bryce and others are simply identified as a “senior fellow” or an “energy expert.” As a result, these pundits mislead media outlets and leave readers in the dark about their true ties. Surely, these outlets can't expect their readers to know about these connections.

We are asking the New York Times to lead the industry and set the nation's standard by disclosing financial conflicts of interest that their op-ed contributors may have at the time their piece is published. By simply asking a few standard disclosure questions, the New York Times can avoid any confusion and ensure better transparency. [TrueTies.org, 10/6/11]

The New York Times' Public Editor Called On Paper To Accurately Disclose Industry Funding Behind Op-Eds. In an article that responded to the letter headlined, “The Times Gives Them Space, but Who Pays Them?” then-public editor Arthur Brisbane agreed that The Times should provide better disclosure, and again mentioned Bryce and the Manhattan Institute as a case in point:

I don't think every reader knows what the Manhattan Institute is. So, while I recognize that The Times has limited space in print to provide more disclosure, I believe it should do more to help readers learn about outside Op-Ed contributors.


On NYTimes.com, The Times should include links for these organizational ties so readers can investigate, if they wish. Finally, it would be useful if The Times required contributors to provide a document listing all current paid positions, and publish a link to the document. (I should note that The Times has begun to include online links for contributors who have their own Web site, or online biography.)

These steps aren't as simple as perhaps they sound, and, even if done well, some readers will ask for more. That said, such changes would shed light where it's needed, in a skeptical age. [The New York Times, 10/30/11]