Alex Epstein: How I stopped The Washington Post from canceling me
By publicly preempting an intended “racism” hit-piece and enlisting influential allies, I turned a potential “cancellation” of me and Fossil Future into widespread position attention.
Yesterday I woke up to find out from my publicist that The Washington Post, in response to the book about energy and climate they had been sent (Fossil Future), has decided to try to destroy my book and my life by smearing me as “racist” in a hit-piece set to release tomorrow morning.
Instead of doing the conventional thing, which is to wait for a hit-piece to drop and then react with “damage control,” I am doing the just thing and publicly, preemptively attacking The Post for this despicable act of journalist malpractice.
While I knew that preempting the Washington Post’s hit-piece was the right thing to do, and I expected it to be effective, it proved to be incredibly effective—especially because I made sure to share my public preemption directly with many influential allies.
The main end result, which I describe in the video below, is that the Post delayed their hit-piece by a week—and removed 90% of the unjust attacks, including all references to racism, rendering the piece incredibly weak.
Here’s a breakdown of how this happened:
- My original Twitter thread exposing the hit-piece got 2 million impressions.
- I got incredible support from dozens of influential people—including, most prominently, a mention on The Joe Rogan Experience by the great Michael Shellenberger. Here are some of the many other influencers who brought attention to the Post’s attempt to cancel me. 1 2 3 4 5
- The Washington Post got hundreds of online comments and/or emails from a huge variety of people—including allies of mine in Africa. (Some of the emails were truly amazing; here is a link to some of my favorites.)
- Instead of apologizing to me for their planned smear campaign, The Washington Post and some allies thought it would be a good idea to issue another smear: accusing me and my supporters of online harassment for our defense!
- I and my supporters destroyed the “online harassment” smear as well (see the comments here), to the point that the Washington Post Managing Editor who started the smear decided to shut down all comments on her post. The fact that she, with the support of many “climate journalists” accused me of “baseless attacks” when I made a one-hour video showing and refuting the Post’s own outlined hit-piece, just revealed the bankruptcy of modern mainstream “journalism.”
- A week after the hit-piece was intended to run, the Post ran a 90%-neutered hit-piece—which, most importantly, had no references to “racism.” The piece ended up getting very little attention—nothing resembling what my preemptive expose of the hit-piece got.
- My favorite summary of what happened was by Scott Adams, a persuasion expert and (most famously) author of the Dilbert comic.
He did what I’ve never seen anybody do. He actually, preemptively took out a hit piece. That’s pretty hard to do. I mean, maybe some billionaire’s done it by money and threats or something, but I’ve never seen a regular person, an author, do it before.
- Besides viral attention to my preemption of The Washington Post on Twitter, I’ve gotten some good, accurate media coverage of my preemption of the Post, such as:
- Fox News: Author claims victory over cancel culture after pre-empting WaPo ‘hit piece’: ‘An attempt to destroy me’
- The National Review: The Washington Post’s Pathetic Hit Piece
- The Objective Standard: Washington Post ‘Journalist’ Tries to Smear Alex Epstein
- I’ve done many interviews about the Post’s now-preempted hit-piece, including:
- While the Post was attempting to cancel me and Fossil Future, because of the way I handled the situation I ended up bringing huge positive attention to Fossil Future, which has sold thousands of additional copies—including inspiring some people (see the image below) to bulk-buy copies for me to distribute. (While others are welcome to go this route, you can buy books specifically for students and educators via a tax-deductible donation through this program.)
- Here’s my number 1 tactical lesson from my victory over The Washington Post. If you are the victim of a planned hit-piece:
1. Do not comment privately—your words will be mangled or ignored.
2. Do not fail to comment—you’ll look evasive.
Instead, comment publicly, preemptively, and conclusively.
- The anti-fossil fuel movement continues to try to go after me. The Post’s hit-piece was accompanied by 2 others (in much more obscure outlets) within a one-day period, and one of the attackers, DeSmog, has been spending money on slanderous Google ads labeling me as a “climate science denier.” Yesterday I publicly called out Google for allowing its ads to be used for lies; we’ll see what happens.
- The biggest, and most heartening takeaway of the mounting attacks on me is that no one can actually attack my arguments for a fossil future. “Fossil fuel eliminators” can try to distort my college writings, they can make bizarre accusations of “racism,” they can accuse me of “online harassment” for defending myself, they can pay for Google ads to call me a “climate science denier,” but they cannot muster even a plausible attempt at refuting me.
- The net result of the pitiful attacks on me will continue to be that more and more people are exposed to my arguments for a fossil future, and more and more see how weak the arguments for fossil fuel elimination actually are.
- The people who are actually reading Fossil Future are giving some great reviews. Here’s one in Forbes and a popular one published on Twitter.
I am very happy with my preemption of The Washington Post’s planned “racism” hit-piece for 2 reasons:
- It saved me a lot of time and potential loss by preventing what could have been a devastating, widespread “cancel” campaign that could have put extreme pressure on my publisher and/or retailers to stop Fossil Future.
- It create a model for other victims of unjust “cancel” campaigns to follow.
While I am very happy these results, I’m also ready to resume my normal work of bringing extreme clarity to energy issues from a human flourishing perspective.
Expect much more of that in the coming weeks.