ExxonMobil and American Power: Steve Coll


The joke in the polished halls of Exxon Mobil is that its P.R. strategy is to say "no comment" in 50 languages. It is said to have a system of secrecy akin to an intelligence agency. After four years of journalistic digging, Steve Coll documents the inner workings of one of the most profitable and powerful corporations in the world, one that he says has affected wider foreign policy to the fight over climate change.

Part Three of The Current

ExxonMobil and American Power: Steve Coll

We started this segment with an Esso commercial. The sounds of happier, simpler driving days before terms such as climate change, peak oil and energy security would come tripping off our tongues.

Esso was born out of a United States Supreme Court ruling in 1911, which broke up John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil monopoly. It was later re-named Exxon and by the 1950s, it was a fixture in the Fortune 500 top five list.

In 1999, the company solidified its position by merging with Mobil. And now, 101 years after it was born in the Standard Oil split-up, ExxonMobil has power, wealth and influence unsurpassed in the corporate world. It has annual revenues of 400 Billion dollars about the same as the GDP of Norway.

In the first quarter of this year, ExxonMobil earned more than 9.5 Billion dollars in profits, more than 100-million-dollars a day. And thanks to its stance on climate change, its heavy hand in political lobbying and disasters such as the Exxon Valdez, Exxon Mobil is also one of the world's most controversial corporations.

Steve Coll pulls back the curtain on the company in his new book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. Steve Coll is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author, and he was in our Washington studio.

Last Word - Men's Centre at Simon Fraser University Promo

We ended the program today with something The Current's Josh Bloch is working on for tomorrow's program ... about the controversy over the arrival of a new Men's Centre at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

Other segments from today's show:

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