21st Century Cape Cod Tories sink to new depths

Wind farm opponents stoop to new low
Demean the memory and legacy of Walter Cronkite

There is a new entry into the hall of shame for the sleazy misdeeds perpetrated on the public by opposition groups to Cape Wind, the misrepresentation and trashing of Walter Cronkite by windstop.org, a.k.a. Cliff Carroll.

This takes some doing as the caliber of past opposition misdeeds and untruths are so egregious.

Remember the chart they sent to a hundred thousand homes on Cape Cod depicting a chunk of Nantucket Sound that was going to be "stolen" by the wind farm in which they tripled the actual footprint of the project?

From Carroll's caricature: "Though the promoters of this project claim that Mr. Cronkite changed his mind, it was the constant barrage of harassment from the green movement interrupting his personal life that led him to withdraw as spokesman (for the anti Cape Wind group)."

Or how about the time the Technical Director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound admitted he committed fraud in an attempt to smear Cape Wind President Jim Gordon?

Painful as the exercise can be, if you go to windstop.org, wait for the bottomless homepage to download (caution to anyone considering printing the homepage, it is over 400 pages long and may take five minutes to download), then scroll down past the photo of children applauding a burning wooden wind turbine that looks disturbingly like a burning cross, and scroll past the heavily distorted and manipulated visual simulation of the wind farm from Craigville Beach which looks like the wind farm is sitting on the resident's rooftops, after all of that you get to the Walter Cronkite passage which claims that the man who stood up to President Lyndon Johnson over Vietnam on national television could be frightened off by a few environmentalists.

While the passage begins by praising Cronkite, it is in reality highly insulting and demeaning to this legendary great newsman in two respects.

  1. Cliff posts the minute long video opposing Cape Wind that features Walter Cronkite, that Cronkite famously came to regret and very publicly asked the opposition to stop using and to remove from the airwaves, which they agreed to do at the time.
  2. Cliff suggests that Cronkite never really stopped opposing Cape Wind. That flies in the face of the interviews Cronkite did in August, 2003 with the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Associated Press, Vineyard Gazette and the Cape Cod Times in which he stated his changed views on Cape Wind quite clearly. Let's remember some of Cronkite's public statements at that time...

What Walter really said

On his initial position of opposition to Cape Wind based solely on the briefing he received by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and their allies Walter Cronkite said:

"My alacrity in accepting an invitation to make a comment was partly my own dropping of my reportorial role of investigating a situation before making a comment"... "I did not do it, and it was my fault"... "As an ardent environmentalist I have been uneasy about my strong statement that did not include my belief that wind power must be harnessed, and as early as possible, as the cleanest alternative to the dangerously increasing pollution of fossil fuels."

Cronkite described the opposition group's position on Cape Wind being an "almost hysterical one".
   (Photo of Walter Cronkite  in Vietnam.)

Cronkite described the opposition group's position on Cape Wind being an "almost hysterical one", and their opposition being "premature".

On his treatment by the opposition group he said, "They have exploited my simple comment in almost making me the spokesman for their cause.  I really am a little disappointed in that".

And Mr. Cronkite's went on to  say about his subsequent three hour meeting at his home with Cape Wind's Jim Gordon that he noted the "sincerity and dedication of the principals."

The greatest insult to Cronkite yet

The greatest insult to Walter Cronkite in Cliff Carroll's write up is his contention that the only reason Cronkite withdrew "as spokesman" for the opposition was the "constant barrage of harassment from the green movement interrupting his personal life". That has to be one of the most insulting, and least accurate, things ever said about Walter Cronkite.

To think that this legendary newsman who had the guts and tenacity to stand up to the President of the United States and look right into the camera to say to the American people that the Vietnam war could not be won, and then somehow to for Cliff Carroll to write that a man that courageous could not later endure some letters from environmentalists?

C'mon Cliff, that's not just stupid, it's bullshit.

The Alliance to Protect Coal, Oil, and Big Waterfront Homes

Oh, one other thing you have to scroll past before you get to the attack on Cronkite on windstop.org is an emphatic fundraising appeal. Not surprising you might say, most non-profit organizations have these on their websites. But here's the twist: the appeal is for people to send checks to Save Our Sound (a.k.a. the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound), not Windstop.

Alliance's Glenn Wattley described by Cape Cod Times as a "coal industry insider".

It's been well known locally these two groups have been in bed together for some time. Actually, to call Windstop a "group" is using a very generous definition of that word as the only people who have ever been publicly associated with it are Cliff Carroll, Rob Bussiere and Frankie Spellman, the anti-wind farm's own "Larry, Moe, and Curly".

Think of Windstop as the more radical armpit of the Alliance, throwing ‘red meat' to the hard core wind farm haters and fossil fuel freaks while the Alliance clings to notions of retaining some small shred of credibility.

Cliff's WindStop and Audra's Alliance are so intertwined that his site solicits funds for hers.

Yet with the departure of Susan Nickerson and loss of their Nantucket Soundkeeper designation, the Alliance has forfeited any remaining claim of being an environmental organization. What notably remains is leadership for an organization that would be more accurately named the Alliance to Protect Coal, Oil, and Big Waterfront Homes.

The Alliance's CEO is Glenn Wattley, described by none other than the Cape Cod Times when he took this role as a "coal industry insider", who had spent most of his professional career working in the coal industry.

Follow the money

The Alliance Chairman of the Board is Bill Koch who owns Oxbow Energy that works in coal mining, selling coal combustion waste, and petroleum coke. If that sounds like a pun, it's not. It is the solid waste dregs from oil refineries. According to the secret Alliance fund-raising documents unearthed in 2006, 94% of their funding comes from a fairly small group of summer residents who own waterfront homes which they visit a few weeks a year.

The people who live behind the gate in Oyster Harbors who write the biggest checks to stop Cape Wind are not like you and me, they don't share our concerns and certainly don't share our lifestyle.

How do the big checks cut by these high rollers get spent? Certainly on salaries for Glenn Wattley, Audra Parker and the rest of the crew, but most of it goes to lawyers, lobbyists, and advertising - turn on the radio lately?

Those of us who live on Cape Cod have been subjected to an intense eight year paid advertising and direct mail onslaught from this cabal rife with claims so misleading they would make propaganda ministers blush.

Yet the Alliance does wage a sophisticated campaign, supported by a stable of consultants all too happy to tap into this cash cow. They have succeeded over the years in using money and influence to mislead and scare a lot of good people on the Cape and Islands.

The good news is that the tide is turning. There is a growing awareness that the people who live behind the gate in Oyster Harbors Osterville who write the biggest checks to fund this group are just not like you and me, they don't share our concerns and certainly don't share our lifestyle. Cape Cod is just a destination point for them to jet into for a few weeks during the summer and they are aghast at the prospect of ever seeing wind turbines in their ocean playground, clean energy be damned.

So let us properly salute Walter Cronkite and champion his memory. He is the most respected and impactful journalist our country will probably ever know. In our neck of the woods he will always be fondly remembered as being very friendly in-person, generous with his time and money for charitable causes, and an avid sailor.

When it comes to the wind farm, Cronkite will be remembered as someone who had the courage to admit, in the glare of the spotlight, that he had been mislead by project opponents, and in so doing the most trusted man in America gave permission to many others of us on the Cape and Islands to do the same.


CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.