The Parrot and the Igloo Notes

A Czarina Enjoys the Corporate Christmas Party

243   “perhaps the greatest”: Glenn Frankel, “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Ire; The Folks at Philip Morris Are Defensive. They Have to Be,” Washington Post, December 26, 1996.

To endure such trials, one executive explained, “You have to be able to look in the mirror in the morning, put your lipstick on and say ‘I’m okay, I love what I do and it’s okay.’”

Apparently, executives were pushovers, and easily bruised. Two years earlier, the Times ran an even more hair-raising version of the same group portrait. The speaker here is Ellen Merlo’s boss, Steve Parrish. “I try not to let it bother me,” the tobacco executive said. “But anybody would feel hurt if somebody says you are a merchant of death and you shouldn’t be able to look yourself in the mirror in the morning. I wish they wouldn’t say things like that.”

Roger Rosenblatt, “How Do Tobacco Executives Live With Themselves?” The New York Times Magazine, March 20, 1994.


243   “Need better term”: Tobacco Institute, Meeting, “Project Down Under Conference Notes,” Tobacco Institute Inc., June 24, 1987. U.S. Exhibit 20,346.


243   “The simple fact is”: Ellen Merlo, “Vendor Conference Draft,” December 1993, Bates Number: 2040863440.

This was a chalk talk Merlo was giving that year; shortly after the EPA report, she delivered a similar version for the Philip Morris Trade Council down at corporate headquarters.

Ellen Merlo, “Tobacco Legislative Overview A Presentation By Ellen Merlo, Vice President Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris U.S.A. Philip Morris U.S.A. Trade Council Spring Meeting, Philip Morris R&D Auditorium Richmond, Virginia.” March 18, 1993. Bates Number: 2024252760-2024252834.

Merlo made things sound pretty last stand. “All of us whose livelihoods depend upon tobacco sales—directly or indirectly—must band together into a unified force. Because it’s not a question of ‘are we going to do well or badly … this year?’ It’s a question of: ‘Are we going to be able to survive and continue to make a living in this industry in the years to come?’”

As the fossil fuel executive said these same years in the chapter about Mark Mills and the fake number, “a game-ending kind of issue for the American coal-fired electric industry.”


244   The remaining 92 percent: Peter J. Jacques, Riley E. Dunlap and Mark Freeman, “The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental skepticism,” Environmental Politics, June 2008.

Also quoted in Theda Skocpol’s widely-discussed 2013 study, Naming The Problem: “To test the hypothesis that think tanks have been central to this broad political and cultural denial campaign – and to document that organized denial efforts ramped up sharply around 1990, just as global warming rose on the environmental agenda – Jacques, Dunlap, and Freeman compiled a list of 141 anti-environmental books published in English between 1972 and 2005, and then traced the affiliations and organizational ties of their authors and sponsors, almost all of whom were U.S. based. The overwhelming preponderance, 130 of the 141 books, were either directly sponsored by conservative think tanks, or had authors tied to one or more think tanks.”

Theda Skocpol, “Naming the Problem: What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight Against Global Warming,” Harvard University, January 2013. 67.

Accessed 6-23-22.


244   “We are creating a better world”: Patrick J. Michaels, Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming, The Cato Institute Press, 1992. 7.


244   Galileo’s Revenge: Peter Huber, Galileo’s Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom, Basic Books, 1991.

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber offer a concise discussion of Peter Huber in Trust Us, We’re Experts, Chapter 9, “The Junkyard Dogs.” The public relations-watchers write, “By the 1990s, in fact, the tobacco industry itself was using the term ‘junk science’ to assail its critics. It’s behind-the-scenes sponsorship of organizations purporting to defend sound science constitutes one of the great underreported stories of the past decade.” 223-225.


244   taillights the next: Philip Morris CEO Michael Miles was soon quoting the attorney and his concept by name. A menace no one even heard of two years earlier—it turned out to have been stalking unmolested down our most sacred hallways. “In closing, let me say that junk science”—this is Miles in a February 1993 speech—”undermines the standards and integrity of true science. It undermines our economic strength and competitiveness. It undermines the integrity [of] government itself.” Michael A. Miles, “Remarks Economic Club Of Chicago, Tuesday, February 9, 1993.” February 9, 1993. Master Settlement Agreement, Bates Number: 2501187852-2501187863.


244   “‘Junk Science’ was a term”: Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt, Introduction, Bloomsbury, 2010, Chapter 7, 232.


244   heading the list was “global warming”: Tom Hockaday and Neal Cohen, To Matt Winokur, “Thoughts on TASSC Europe,” March 25, 1994. Bates Number: 2024233595-3602.

Here’s geologist James Lawrence Powell (The Inquisition of Climate Science, Columbia University Press, 2011, Chapter 7, “Tobacco Tactics—The Scientist Deniers,” 56): “To protect its profits, Philip Morris was ready to declare war on science and on environmental protection. . . listing ‘global warming’ first among the new topics with which Big Tobacco’s campaign of denial could align itself.”

As the brilliant and savage George Monbiot puts things, the damage could be measured in seasons and calendars. “While they have been most effective in the United States, the impacts of the climate-change deniers sponsored by Exxon and Philip Morris have been felt all over the world. I have seen their arguments endlessly repeated in Australia, Canada, India, Russia and the UK. By dominating the media debate on climate change during seven or eight critical years in which urgent international talks should have been taking place, by constantly seeding doubt about the science just as it should have been most persuasive, they have justified the money their sponsors have spent on them many times over. It is fair to say that the professional denial industry has delayed effective global action on climate change by years, just as it helped to delay action against the tobacco companies.”

George Monbiot, “The Denial Industry,” The Guardian, September 19, 2006.

Accessed 6-23-22. 

245      “attempting to change the scientific standards”: Elisa K. Ong and Stanton A. Glantz, “Constructing ‘Sound Science’ and ‘Good Epidemiology’: Tobacco, Lawyers, and Public Relations Firms,” American Journal of Public Health, November 2001.

They make their warning right in the Abstract. “Public health professionals need to be aware that the ‘sound science’ movement is not an indigenous effort from within the profession to improve the quality of scientific discourse, but reflect sophisticated public relations campaigns controlled by industry executives and lawyers whose aim is to manipulate the standards of scientific proof to serve the corporate interests of their clients.”

And here’s their opening: “The terms ‘sound science’ and ‘junk science’ have increasingly appeared in the media, medical literature, and litigation. Industries — those responsible for products ranging from silicone gel breast implants to hormone-treated beef to secondhand smoke — claim to be victimized by lawsuits and regulations based on ‘junk science,’ while the scientific, public health, and regulatory communities claim their actions are based on ‘sound science.’ . . . During the last decade the Philip Morris (PM) tobacco company appropriated the ‘sound science’ concept to attack studies on secondhand smoke. To deal with the tobacco industry’s lack of credibility, it developed ‘sound science’ coalitions involving other industries opposed to regulation to support its position.”

In Trust Us, We’re Experts, Rampton and Stauber award Ong and Glantz discovery of the movement. “The Lancet, England’s leading medical journal, published an account of this story for the first time on April 8, 2000. Written by the University of California–San Francisco researchers Stanton Glantz and Elisa Ong, the Lancet story examined never-before-published internal documents from Philip Morris and R. J. Reynolds and discovered a covert campaign that was prodigiously expensive, international in scope, and capable of reaching into the editorial offices of the Lancet itself.” 225.


245      “undermining the public’s trust”: Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science, Basic Books, 2005, Chapter 6, “Junking ‘Sound Science.’” Mooney continues, “Rather offensively, ‘sound science’ proponents aimed to discredit the agencies charged with protecting us and in many cases to substitute for their scientific judgments the views of self-interested companies.”


245      “tragic and maddening”: Mooney, The Republican War on Science, Chapter 9, “The Greatest Hoax.”


245      “The vilification of any research”: David Michaels, Doubt Is Their Product, Oxford University Press 2008, xii.

In his 2020 follow-up, The Triumph of Doubt, Michaels observes, “Climate-breakdown denial began with and is closely linked to Big Tobacco, which in its decades-long fight to deny the link between smoking and lung cancer established both the playbook and the founding organizations for science and public relations against the public interest.”


245      “Perhaps not surprisingly”: Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, Chapter 5, “What’s Bad Science? Who Decides? The Fight over Secondhand Smoke,” 168.


245      “if you could convince people”: Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, Chapter 6, “The Denial of Global Warming.”


245      “It has done more damage”: George Monbiot, “The Denial Industry,” The Guardian, September 19, 2006.

Accessed 6-23-22.

This is substantially augmented as Chapter Two of Monbiot’s Heat, Penguin, 2006.

David Michaels, from the vantage of 2020 and The Triumph of Doubt. “How did we arrive at this dispiriting, divided state of affairs? It’s pretty simple. The pseudo-scientific and political opposition to acknowledgment of climate breakdown is aligned—ideologically, tactically, and now politically—with the same gang that, for almost three-quarters of a century, has specialized in manufacturing uncertainty when it comes to the science of certain economically important issues. It is the same crowd funded by the same money employing the same tactics.” As Gale Christianson asks, in the epigraph to Greenhouse, “How cam’st thou in this pickle?”


246      part-time at a dress shop: Deposition of Ellen Merlo, Broin vs Philip Morris Companies et al, December 7, 1993. Bates Number: 2017015577-5796. 3 for New Jersey, 4 for the part-time.


246      “I’m a New Yorker”: Roger Rosenblatt, The New York Times Magazine, “How Do Tobacco Executives Live With Themselves?”, March 20, 1994.


246      “in the city”: Deposition of Ellen Merlo, Broin vs Philip Morris Companies et al, December 7, 1993. Bates Number: 2017015577-5796. 4 for the part-time.


246      She started in advertising: Roger Rosenblatt, The New York Times Magazine, “How Do Tobacco Executives Live With Themselves?”, March 20, 1994.


246      “no particular reason”: Ellen Merlo, Deposition, 20. “I just didn’t enjoy it any more, I guess. I don’t — no particular reason at the time. I just kind of stopped.” Broin vs Philip Morris Companies et al, December 7, 1993.


246      “something that car manufacturers aspire to”: Ellen Merlo, Deposition, 10.


246      “heaven”: “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Ire; The Folks at Philip Morris Are Defensive. They Have to Be,” Washington Post, December 26, 1996.


247      “and serve everybody drinks”: So meaningful, Merlo said basically the exact same thing to Roger Rosenblatt and the Times magazine. “She is steadfastly loyal to her colleagues, though she speaks wistfully of the days when Joe Cullman wheeled a wagon of Champagne around what were then the four floors of the corporate building at Christmas and everyone knew most everyone else.”


247      “You’ve worked your way up”: Trial Testimony of Ellen Merlo, Boeken v. Philip Morris Inc., May 2, 2001. Bates Number: MERLOE0050201. 3.

With a nice short demonstration of human spirit, our tropism to wit. The court reporter begins the transcript with the phrase “Chorus of Good Afternoons,” and you hear someone trying to make their job alive and fun.


247      The Czarina: See for example: Ellen Merlo, “The Czarina’s Edict,” To: Distribution, January 11, 1993. U.S. Exhibit: 39,751.



247      “And I had a passion”: Trial Testimony of Ellen Merlo, Boeken v. Philip Morris Inc., May 2, 2001. Bates Number: MERLOE0050201. 15.


247      “before the EPA sent over”: Philip Morris Corporate Affairs, “Biography Ellen Merlo Vice President Corporate Affairs,” Philip Morris U.S.A., September 1992. Bates Number: 2063542592-2593.

The corporate bio describes Merlo this way: “A native New Yorker.” (At her previous promotion, to Philip Morris Marketing—four years prior—she’d been only “a resident of New York City.”) She’d finally become the person she’d wanted, staring across from the New Jersey cliffs.


247      “Victor Han was the deputy”: Victor Han, To Ellen Merlo, “Burston/ETS,” February 22, 1993. U.S. Exhibit 37,064, BN: 2023920035.


247      “As a parent”: “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Ire; The Folks at Philip Morris Are Defensive. They Have to Be,” Washington Post, December 26, 1996.


248      to build and operate: Ellen Merlo, To Distribution, Subject, February 19, 1993. Bates Number: 2021252097. “APCO has been retained, and a budget has been approved,” writes Merlo. She closes, “Time is of the essence, so everything is on a top priority basis.”


248      “not always credible”: Monbiot, Heat, Chapter 2: “The Denial Industry,” 32.

Merlo sent these recommendations upstairs, to Philip Morris CEO and President Bill Campbell. (Ellen Merlo, To William Campbell, February 17, 1993, Bates Number: 2021183916) While reminding the CEO of the “overriding” aim—“to discredit the EPA report”—she discussed strategies. These come from pages listed “Objectives” and “Assumptions.”


o Associate EPA study with broader questions about agency research and government regulations.

o Link issue with other more “politically correct” products.

o Have non-industry messengers provide reasons for legislators, business executives and media to view EPA study with extreme caution.

o Non-industry spokespeople will challenge EPA study if issue is broadened beyond the scope of this individual report.

o The right spokespeople will produce the right popular media response which will produce the right public response.


This is above all a good working recipe for underhandedly discrediting any government agency. That last one (“the right spokespeople . . .”) is a working recipe for Clarence Cook Little.


248      “approaching” people: Tom Hockaday (APCO), To Lance Pressl, “Possible Individuals to be Approached For Opinion Editorials,” March 2, 1993. Bates Number: 2021178213-2021178216.


248      Dr. S. Fred Singer: APCO, “Dr. S. Fred Singer, Director, The Science and Environmental Policy Project,” Philip Morris, March 8, 1993. Bates Number: 2021178209. APCO had been retained in mid-February. As Merlo informs Bill Campbell on the 17.


248      the key work: David Biello and John Pavlus, “Even Skeptics Admit Global Warming is Real,” Scientific American, March 18, 2008.


248      “I vould not call Fred Singer a friend”: Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, Notes to Chapter Three, Note 62, 300.


248      the grandfather of climate denial: ABC News (Dan Harris, Interviewer), Global Warming Denier: Fraud or ‘Realist’? Physicist says don’t worry, humans will benefit from a warmer planet,” March 23, 2008.

Accessed 6-24-22.

Mother Jones has him as a climate denial “godfather.” (Mother Jones, “Put A Tiger In Your Tank,” May/June 2005.)

At the spectrum’s other end, there’s the Columbia University Press’ The Inquisition of Climate Science: “This chapter shines a spotlight on a sample of the scientist-deniers and their claims, beginning with the grandfather of global warming denial, S. Fred Singer.” This is the lucrative professional niche Dr. Singer carved out.


248      “Professor Singer’s views influence skeptics”: BBC, Horizon, “Science Under Attack,” Sir Paul Nurse, Host, January 24, 2011.


248      “like a rock star”: James Taylor, “Anti-Science Climate Deniers On The Retreat In Germany,” Forbes, December 6, 2012.

This is a pro denial piece. In the story, skeptics are heroes, the titular “deniers” mainstream scientists. Try it. It takes a moment to readjust.

A sample: “The Scientific Method struck a valiant blow against climate denialism in Germany this week, as scientists from around the globe gathered to sort out climate change facts from fiction. The climate change conference, hosted by the European Institute European Institute for Climate and Energy (known by its German acronym EIKE) and cosponsored by the Heartland Institute, attracted nearly 200 attendees and marks ongoing global momentum in favor of sound science and against factually unsupported alarmism.

“American atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer, whose resume of scientific accomplishments runs longer than Al Gore’s obscene electricity usage (see here), explained how natural variance accounts for most of the global warming of the past century. The German attendees treated Singer like a rock star. . . Nir Shaviv, a professor of astrophysics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, showed how cosmic rays account for much recent global warming. . .

“The conference’s unmistakable lesson was that the scientific evidence is woefully short of supporting alarmist assertions that humans are causing a global warming crisis. To the extent the scientific evidence leads to a particular conclusion, the conclusion is that humans are modestly enhancing a natural warming cycle that fortunately rescued the planet from the Little Ice Age.”

Accessed 6-23-22.


248      “I would not be surprised”: Anthony Wile, “Fred Singer on the Myths of Politically Correct Science,” The Daily Bell, February 3, 2013.

Accessed 6-22-22.


248      “cannot possibly be healthy”: S. Fred Singer, “Secondhand Smoke, Lung Cancer, And The Global Warming Debate,” The Heartland Institute, Heartland.Org, January 3, 2011.

Accessed 6-22-22.


249      “They don’t carry a note”: CBC, The Fifth Estate, “The Denial Machine,” January 7, 2007.


249      wrote APCO about Dr. Singer’s essay: Ellen Merlo, To: Tom Hockaday – APCO, March 3, 1993. There appears to have been a draft prepared even before APCO found S. Fred Singer to apply his expertise and—the true negotiable commodity—his name. Bates Number: 20700339852.


249      “discussed with Dr. Singer Ellen’s suggestion”: Tom Hockaday, To Ellen Merlo, “Opinion Editorials on Indoor Air Quality and Junk Science,” March 8, 1993, Bates Number: 2021178205.

Hockaday; “We discussed with Dr. Singer Ellen’s suggestion for the junk science article to have a more personal introduction, however he is adamant that this would not be his style.”


249      “repeatedly terrorized”: As in previous sections, it is worth reviewing Stanford professor Robert Proctor’s thoughts on the issue—worth the reexamination every time a reputable scientist stoops to pick up a leaf check.

“To repeat: collaboration with the tobacco industry is one of the most deadly abuses of scholarly integrity in modern history. Abuses of the Nazis and Soviets are better known and more immediately murderous, but the mortal force of cigarettes is so vast, and so easily avoidable, that the comparison is not inappropriate. A hundred million people died from smoking in the twentieth century, and we are now on a pace to have many times that in the present century. Academics would have blood on their hands but for the fact that most tobacco deaths are bloodless and distant from the acts that first set mortality into motion.” Golden Holocaust, 458.


249      “questionable crises”: S. Fred Singer, “Junk Science At the EPA,” March 8, 1993.

How cooperative /accommodating a scientist was S. Fred Singer? When some of the publicity technicians associated with APCO wanted to refocus his argument on California, Dr. Singer accepted an edit that stressed Golden State themes. The request is made in Gwyn Bicker, To David Laufer, “Subject: Opinion Pieces,” March 26, 1993. Bates No. 2021251584.

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky