For the last week, team Change Chevron has been embroiled in a corporate free speech battle involving a scrappy little enviro group called Rainforest Action Network, The Washington Post, and one of the largest oil corporations on the planet (Chevron).
As many of you know, RAN recently began a campaign to Change Chevron. As part of the launch of the campaign we bought ads last week in The New York Times and WashingtonPost.com. The ads had a picture of Chevron’s new CEO John Watson face (which we bought the rights to from Getty images) and the copy read: “Oil men have polluted the Ecuadorean rainforest for decades. This man can do something about it now.”
Chevron’s behemoth legal team immediately pressured Getty, the NY Times, and Washington Post to pull the ad. The New York Times ran the ad. The Washington Post did not. The Washington Post (which receives huge ad revenue from Chevron) has sided with the oil giant and frozen our ad.
After reviewing our lengthy documentation of contamination and illness in the Ecuadorean rainforest (and meeting with their legal team and Chevron’s Wa Post ad rep), the Washington Post has agreed that are claims are “substantiated.” Now, let’s see if they’ll be able to substantiate Chevron’s claims that they are Humane Energy…
The Washington Post will now run our new version of the ad featured above. While this may seem small, it is a window into what we will likely see run rampant as a result of the Supreme Ct’s ruling allowing corporation’s unbridled campaign finance AND advertising. With the Supreme Ct. ruling, the controversy over the Super Bowl ads (which allow anti-choice but not pro-gay advertising), and this recent small example of Chevron throwing its money around to suppress critical ads it feels like a good time to think about what this means.
Advocacy groups like RAN have meager budgets with little money to spare on advertising. Chevron spends hundreds of millions of dollars EVERY year on ads that are deceptive, misleading, greenwash. Don’t corporations already control our airwaves enough?