Publications add belated disclosures to pieces by pro-pipeline shill James “Spider” Marks

Marks’ latest deception shows why outlets should avoid publishing him

The Omaha World-Herald and Washington Examiner recently added belated disclosures acknowledging that pro-pipeline writer James “Spider” Marks has financial ties to that industry. Marks has repeatedly used media outlets to push industry talking points without disclosing his conflicts of interest.

The Examiner published an August 23 op-ed by Marks with the headline “Ecoterrorists target oil infrastructure, endanger the public.” The piece criticized “uncompromising radicals” who “don't want any traditional energy development in the United States” and defended the development of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

As Media Matters previously documented, the Examiner also published a November 18 piece by Marks headlined “The Army Corps of Engineers deserves thanks, not attacks, for Dakota Access Pipeline work” and a July 1 piece headlined “Qatar blockade underscores America's world opportunity in natural gas.” The Omaha World-Herald published a piece by Marks last November defending the Dakota Access Pipeline against a “smear campaign.”

None of those pieces initially disclosed that Marks is the advisory board chair for the security firm TigerSwan, which was hired by Energy Transfer Partners to provide security for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners told Media Matters in an email last month that “TigerSwan is one of our security advisors.” The energy company added that its specific work with TigerSwan in North Dakota has ended and declined to comment beyond that on the “details of our security efforts.”

Media Matters contacted the Examiner on August 23 about its lack of disclosure. The Examiner later added an editor’s note and a disclosure about Marks’ work for TigerSwan to the November and August pieces. The World-Herald added the following text in late August: “He is chairman of the advisory board for TigerSwan LLC, which was hired to provide security for the pipeline.”

Media Matters and outlets such as The Intercept and DeSmogBlog have written about how Marks, a retired general and current CNN analyst, has used media outlets to push pro-pipeline propaganda. Marks’ deception about his ties to TigerSwan has led at least one publication, PennLive, to ban him from writing in its pages in the future.

Cate Folsom, Omaha World-Herald editorial page editor, told Media Matters in an email that the paper added the disclosure “recently after the affiliation was brought to our attention” and that she hadn’t “made a commitment” about whether Marks’ writing would be allowed in the publication again. The Examiner did not respond to a question about whether it would publish Marks in the future.  

The Daily Caller and the Daily Advertiser (of Lafayette, LA) still have pieces by Marks on their sites that do not disclose his TigerSwan affiliation.