EID Investigation Sheds Light on Activist-Driven Media Platform

by Spencer Walrath, Energy in Depth

Earlier this week, EID released our investigation into the new Drilled News platform, shedding light into the connections between this new media initiative and the climate litigation campaign. Thanks to our efforts, the platform was forced to come clean about their funders and relationship to the problematic litigation campaign.
Richard Wiles, Confirmed Key Contributor
Richard Wiles’ Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) has played an integral part in the climate litigation campaign including running numerous social media campaigns, hosting events across the country to promote litigation, submitting an amicus brief, and hiring a lobbyist to arrange meetings between city officials and plaintiffs’ attorneys. CCI is funded by billionaire donors both foreign and domestic to wage a climate litigation campaign against the nation’s energy producers and continues to be opaque about its backers.
While Drilled News is not a direct advocacy arm of CCI, it is closely linked with the project and its executive director, Richard Wiles. Drilled News now admits that Wiles played an instrumental role in obtaining their initial launch grant from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), CCI’s parent organization:
“Wiles introduced us to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, which was critical to landing our initial launch grant. For that, we have consistently thanked him in our credits.”
Drilled was also forced to acknowledge that while they have editorial independence from IGSD, Wiles continues to play an active role in influencing the direction of the organization and is a key source for new story ideas:
“Does Wiles constantly send us pitches and ideas, and sometimes even unsolicited critiques of our work? Yes.”
Downplaying their relationship
Despite their admissions, Drilled continues to downplay their relationship with CCI. They claim their funding comes from IGSD – not CCI. However, the most recent season of their podcast tells a slightly different story. The transcript of season three, episode two reads as follows:
In addition, while Drilled admits that they gave Wiles an “executive producer” credit during the first season, they allege that such “lofty titles” were given to several individuals and weren’t reflective of their work on the show. However, Wiles is the only person ever disclosed as an executive producer of the show, and has the most prestigious title of anyone listed in the podcast’s credits:
In the end, the mere admission of this close relationship with Richard Wiles is an important lens to interpret Drilled News’ current and future content.
Far from objective, the Drilled podcast has relied on interviews from some of the most high-profile activists in the climate litigation space, including Kert DaviesMatt Pawa, Sher Edling consultant Ann CarlsonGeoffrey Supran, and ERI lawyer Marco Simons. In contrast, they have never interviewed a single energy company featured on the podcast.
EID is proud of its investigators, who successfully shed newfound transparency on an organization with deep ties to the climate litigation campaign. EID is filling a critical void by providing scrutiny on members of the climate litigation echo chamber and will continue to shed light on groups that lack transparency in their operations.

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