The Parrot and the Igloo Notes

Philosophers and Priests

233   perhaps lies in the philosopher’s domain”: Frederick Seitz, “Offensive or Defensive Weapons,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1953, Volume 9, Issue 9.


233   “I’ll leave that to the philosophers”: Mark Hertsgaard, “While Washington Slept,” Vanity Fair, May 2006. “. . . I’ll leave that to the philosophers and priests.”


233   “As long as it was green”: “As long as it was green,” PBS Frontline, “Hot Politics,” April 24, 2007.


233   about $45 million: Hertsgaard, “While Washington Slept.”


233      Seitz earned $585,000 for this non-service: Proctor, Golden Holocaust, Chapter 23 “Penetrating the Universities,” 448.


233      “A scientific steering committee”: Reynolds World, “Scientists Seek Answers To Riddles of Disease,” June 1980, 11.


233      National Academy of Sciences arm-candy: For example, 4, where Seitz is scheduled to fly the esteemed scientist flag at the Industrial Advisory Board meeting, and at Reynolds headquarters in Winston-Salem.

John L. Bacon to Mr. H. C. “Jack” Roemer, Dr. Frederick Seitz, Mr. Colin Stokes, September 13, 1979. Bates Number: 504480459-504480464.


234      “not immediately aimed at effects”: Dr. Frederick Seitz to Dr. Edward Martell, National Center for Atmospheric Research, December 15, 1982. Bates Number: 504480256; Bates Master: 0209-0263.

This is the way it was done. As Karen Miller observes of the Clarence Cook Little version, in The Voice of Business: “Moreover, much of the research funded did not directly relate to smoking and health; one survey of TIRC grantees found that 80 percent of the scientists said none of their research looked at the health effects of smoking.” Miller, The Voice of Business, 134. The really good stuff—it has terrific replayability.


234      “damaging claims”: Mary E. Ward and George D. Newton to Arthur J. Stevens, Esq., Lolliard, October 21, 1987. “Dr. Fred Seitz,” the Reynolds attorneys write, “has agreed to host a meeting for this purpose. You should hear from him shortly with details about the time and place.”


234      safeguarding the line of Judeo-Grecian values: It is worth reviewing Stanford historian Robert Proctor’s thoughts on the issue—recalling it each time a reputable scientist stoops to pick up a tobacco check.

Tobacco has been willing and able to obstruct popular and scientific knowledge, jamming the scientific airwaves with noise. We are talking about racketeers with academics as accomplices—and a breach of academic integrity more serious—and deadly—than anything since the horrors of the Nazi era . . . To repeat: collaboration with the tobacco industry is one of the most deadly abuses of scholarly integrity in modern history. . . 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.


234      “such as in Japan or Europe”: Dr. Frederick Seitz to Dr. Robert Di Marco, RJR Nabisco Inc., January 18, 1989.


234      an extra twenty-five years: That is, Hardy took on the John Ross case for Philip Morris in 1962. The Surgeon General’s report came in 24 years later, 1986.


234      In 1986, the surgeon general: Office on Smoking and Health. The health consequences of involuntary smoking: a report of the Surgeon General. C. Everett Koop, M.D. Rockville, Maryland: Public Health Service, 1986. 7. “Involuntary smoking is a cause of disease, including lung cancer, in healthy nonsmokers.”


234      financially crazy about the arts: Mervyn Rothstein, “Uneasy Partners: Arts and Philip Morris,” The New York Times, December 18, 1990.

“This year, Philip Morris contributed about $15 million to arts organizations across the United States, making it one of the largest corporate givers to the arts in the country. Over the last 30 years, the company has handed out millions of dollars to the arts, with an emphasis on innovative work that many corporations would not go near. It is the largest corporate sponsor of dance in this country; indeed, without Philip Morris the whole landscape of dance in the United States would be substantially different, and enormously diminished.”

The company had its own Manger of Cultural Affairs. And even before the second-hand smoke fight turned unruly, this support made artists anxious. “The actor Ron Silver, the president of the Creative Coalition, an organization of arts professionals, also urged arts groups to sever their relationship with Philip Morris. ‘People in the arts community say, “Please don’t go after Philip Morris, because we get a lot of money from them,”’ Mr. Silver said. . . .

“Philip Morris began supporting the arts in 1958, when it was a relatively small cigarette company and long before there was major controversy over cigarettes or the Senator. George Weissman, the chairman of Lincoln Center and former chairman of Philip Morris, recalled that the program was created to build ‘a positive image for the company and its employees by giving something back to the community that helped us become successful.’”


234      “the quid came with a pro quo”: By this time, Frederick Seitz would be renowned primarily as a climate denier. The arts funding itself took place across decades. And by the mid-90s, when Philip Morris hunted for some return on investment, arts organizations were surprised—as startled as if somebody started a smoking lounge in a museum gallery.

Anna Quindlen, “Private & Public: Quid Pro Quo,” The New York Times, October 8, 1994. The phrasing is close to Seitz’s about his priests and philosophers—that is, this is the arts community’s version of denial. “[An official of one group put it thus:] ‘We were not lobbying on behalf of Philip Morris; we were lobbying on behalf of ourselves and the money pool.’”

Re the community’s willingness to speak up: “The money pool of tobacco profits . . . is enormous and essential to arts underwriting. So that man spoke under cover of anonymity, and he was not alone; not a single official or board member of any cultural organization supported by the tobacco giant would speak for attribution to the New York Times reporter Paul Goldberger about the lobbying efforts.”

And then Quindlen closes with this lovely barbed epigram:


“Thank God for sinners,” the spokeswoman for a dance company said. “They’re the only people to support the arts.” 


234      a vigorous Surgeon General fact check: Guy B. Oldaker III, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, “Bio/Bio R & D: Third Quarter Report, 1987. Bates Number: 506291737-506291746. 1.


234      “outstanding”: J.A. Fyock to Guy Smith IV, Vice President Corporate Affairs U.S.A, Philip Morris, September 14, 1987. Bates Number: 506648613. Philip Morris and Reynolds were cosponsoring the Seitz-led Surgeon General review.


234      “The study has progressed quite well”: J.A. Fyock to Guy Smith IV, Vice President of Corporate Affairs U.S.A, Philip Morris, April 28, 1988. Bates Number: 2023552167-2168. Fyock goes over the shared Reynolds-Philip Morris Seitz funding arrangement in greater detail. And you see how Seitz’s name was used as an inducement, a reassurance, even in internal industry conversation. “You should know that Dr. Fred Seitz, former president of Rockefeller University (and a former president of the National Academy of Science) is coordinating the project.”


234      Perhaps even a little more so: “Links Between Passive Smoking and Disease: A Best-Evidence Synthesis | A Report of the Working Group on Passive Smoking,” Walter O. Spitzer et al, Clinical and Investigative Medicine, Vol. 13 No. 1, 1990, Original manuscript submitted May 29, 1989.

The industry got a preview look as of March 7, 1989, and wrote back a 97-page critique. “A Review of the Final Version of the Report,” The ETS Division of RJ Reynolds Tobacco et al, April 11, 1989. It included affronted suggestions like page 93’s “All references to cigarette smoking data, including maternal smoking, should be removed from The Report.”


235      “undermining”: Mary E. Ward, To George D. Newton and Samuel B. Witt III (R.J. Reynolds Deputy General Counsel and General Counsel), “Draft 16 of Spitzer ETS Report,” March 15, 1989. Bates Number: 515541733-515541736.

It was a killer, to imagine the document in the courtroom, in a hearing. “What is worse, this document can be very damaging when we are confronted with it a legislative or litigation context.” And if you flip ahead—read the "Silver bullet" note to page 242—you'll appreciate just how wise these nervous attorneys were.


235      “substantial damage”: Andrew Whist, To R. William Murray, “ETS Symposium,” August 8, 1989. Bates Number: 2500017043-2500017045. The cc is to Geoff Bible—with whom R. William Murray was essentially steering Phillip Morris. (AP, “Philip Morris Names Executives To New Posts,” February 25, 1987.) Andrew Whist we’ll reencounter later, some chapters away, on a luncheon cruise in his native Sydney Harbor, and steering an international diplomatic effort from his living room.


235      “not sufficiently rational”: Alexander Holtzman (General Counsel, Philip Morris), To Bill Murray, “Subject: Fred Seitz,” August 31, 1989. Bates Number: 2023266534. Bates Master: 2023266531/6534.


235      exiled to Alaska: A joke I feel I should try to help a little. Seitz seemed to suffer fears beyond, in his words, “the truly demonstrable” (p. 381, On the Frontier) when it came to the Soviet Union. He felt they intended America “no mercy.” He imagined, after invasion, the Soviets relocating survivors to the cold north. “Exile to Alaska without adequate preparation for millions of individuals.” Frederick Seitz, “Offensive or Defensive Weapons,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1953.

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky