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Donziger’s Attempt to Revise History Goes Awry

Date: Sep 4, 2014

Steven Donziger and his team are desperately trying to rewrite the history of his long-running fraudulent scheme against Chevron in Ecuador.

They found a willing partner in Rolling Stone, which published a story last week written almost exclusively from Donziger’s point of view.

Unfortunately for Donziger and his associates, the facts and evidence cannot be altered. Yet, as Rolling Stone made clear, they can be ignored.

Despite running over 5,000 words, the article somehow failed to include evidence of fraud, bribery, and extortion presented in several U.S. courts and found in countless emails, diary entries and video clips, all of which are publicly available.

For example, a balanced account of the case would have noted the following:

  • Nine U.S. federal courts found the trial against Chevron in Ecuador marred by fraud.
  • 17 of Donziger’s former insiders and associates testified against him at trial, including his former co-counsel, environmental consultants, funders, employees and his Ecuadorian collaborators.
  • 600 hours of outtakes from Crude – an anti-Chevron film executive produced by Donziger’s friend– capture Donziger committing a host of illicit and unethical acts, including planning to falsify evidence and intimidate judges.
  • Donziger and his associates paid $1,000 a month in bribes to an Ecuador judge to ghostwrite rulings in his favor.  This is corroborated by bank statements, shipping records and computer forensics.
  • Donziger bribed the court-appointed “expert” tasked with developing a damages assessment for the court.  He also had the court expert file as his own a report actually written for Donziger by a U.S.-based environmental consulting firm, Stratus Consulting.
  • Stratus later provided sworn testimony disavowing its work for Donziger’s team and affirmed that there is no scientific merit to his claims against Chevron.
  • Burford Capital, one of Donziger’s largest financial backers, provided sworn testimony that Donziger made false and fraudulent statements in order to secure funding.

We could go on, but readers of Rolling Stone might do well to read other sources on the Ecuador case.

For example, just this week an article in the Miami Herald, entitled, “When Journalism is too Good to be True,” illustrated how Donziger has used the media before in his public pressure campaign against Chevron.

The article reveals Donziger’s cozy relationship with Vanity Fair reporter William Langewiesche.  The two worked together to develop a story for the magazine as part of Donziger’s public pressure campaign against Chevron.

Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald notes that Donziger’s wife at the time worked in corporate communications at Conde Nast, Vanity Fair’s publisher. Emails between the two reveal that Langewiesche asked Donziger to prepare questions to be asked of Chevron and to help him make a case for not meeting with Chevron on the story.  (Read the emails here.)

Langewiesche tells Donziger writing the story was “particularly satisfying to the extent that it supports your efforts, and you personally.”

“You and I are now firmly on the same side,” Langewiesche told Donziger in an email uncovered by the Miami Herald, “But, actually, we were about an hour after I met you.”

Donziger may still succeed in convincing the occasional journalists to portray him as a victim. Yet the overwhelming body of evidence confirming his fraud and corruption should give to pause to others who are more fair-minded and less inclined to ignore the facts.