Tell me, what did Neil DeGrasse Tyson do to be targeted by the wingnuts at National Review?

Last night on HBO’s Real Time, host Bill Maher discussed the acidic attack launched upon Tyson by Charles Cooke in the magazine’s latest issue. Maher suggested that part of National Review‘s resentment towards Tyson stems from the fact that the latter is “a scientist, and a black one”:

YouTube video

Considering National Review‘s sordid race history, one can’t gainsay that point. Nor can one deny that the political right’s embrace of ignorance–what conservative writer Patrick Ruffini once called the “Joe-the-Plumberization of the GOP”–is also a motivating factor in this attack; as Peter Sinclair notes, Cooke’s demonization of Tyson is reminiscent “of recent remarks by Jeb Bush that scientists and those that believe in what science says, are ‘sanctimonious.’”

Of course, there’s another pretty influential motivating factor.

For years, National Review has been heavily dependent on advertising from the fossil fuel industry; I can still recall reading the publication in the 1990s and 2000s and being stunned by the number of coal, oil and natural-gas industry ads throughout the magazine. “Doesn’t McDonald’s advertise in National Review? Or VO5 shampoo?” I’d think to myself. Flip through recent editions of National Review and you’ll be graced by Chevron’s obnoxious “We Agree” ads.

Now, if I were an executive at Chevron, or any of the other fossil fuel interests that advertise in National Review, I wouldn’t be too fond of individuals who say this sort of stuff:

YouTube video

Tyson is saying things that the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want to hear, like climate scientist Michael E. Mann before him. So naturally, those dependent on the fossil fuel industry have to butcher him. The only question is, what are they going to do next? Liken him to a child rapist?

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.