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John Delicath

Author ››› John Delicath
  • NYT's Tierney awakens from his slumber to question use of science in the Obama administration

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN DELICATH

    In yet another example of what County Fair's own Eric Boehlert described as the press awakening from its slumber "just in time to aggressively press the new Democratic administration," the NYT's controversial science reporter John Tierney --American Progress' Joe Romm called him "easily the worst science writer at any major media outlet in the country"-- has written a column and two blog posts in the last couple of weeks fretting about the kind of advice President Obama might receive from some of his science advisors, most specifically John Holdren (Obama's pick for Science Advisor) and Steven Chu (Obama's Secretary of Energy). If you find it odd that a journalist who did little to no reporting on the widespread and well documented distortion of science and the scientific process during the George W. Bush administration would suddenly find it important to write about the politicization of science in Washington, you are not alone.

    After his January 23 column, "Politics in the Guise of Pure Science," Tierney noted that he was asked by critics "[w]hy start worrying now about scientists pushing a political agenda" and isn't it disingenuous "to worry about the politicization of science now instead of during the Bush administration?" In his own defense he writes: "I agree that there were lots of attempts to use science for political ends during the Bush years. I wrote about some of the questionable claims by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House drug czar's office." So, while the Bush administration was busy placing unqualified political appointees in scientific positions, muzzling agency scientists, ignoring scientific findings when making federal health and environmental rules, manipulating the scientific advisory system in favor of ideology and industry, and editing reports in way that distorted scientific data, Tierney wrote about some "questionable claims" by the DEA and White House drug czar. Got it.

    And just why is Tierney now concerned about "honest science"? Have Holdren or Chu been accused or found guilty of distorting scientific evidence or manipulating the scientific process for political purposes? No, Tierney is "concern[ed] about some of the debating tactics used by Dr. Holdren and his allies" early in Holdren's career, back in the 70s and 80s. Tierney's also concerned that Holdren, as Tierney sees it, has a "tendency to conflate the science of climate change with prescriptions to cut greenhouse emissions." According to Tierney, "There are other ways to cope, and there's no 'scientific consensus' on which path looks best." Of course, Joe Romm -- an actual scientist, as opposed someone like Tierney, who "always wanted to be a scientist but went into journalism because its peer-review process was a great deal easier to sneak through,"-- has noted that the idea that climate change science does not suggest the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions is just absurd.

    As for Chu, Tierney cites one comment that Chu made in an interview with the Los Angeles times where he suggested that the effects of climate change could reduce the snow pack in the mountains of California to such an extent that there could be "no more agriculture in California," making it difficult to "keep their cities going." While Chu's comment may strike some as going beyond what the available science would allow us to predict with any degree of certainty, Tierney failed to mention that Chu reportedly was describing a worst case scenario or that the LAT reported that "[a] pair of recent studies raise similar warnings." Moreover, Chu's singular comment hardly provides evidence that we should be worried about whether Chu and other advisors give Obama "realistic plans for dealing with global warming and other threats." But it's good to see that Tierney has his watchful eye on the use of science in Washington, this time around.

  • Citing convention negotiations, Fox News Sunday's Wallace asked if President Obama would negotiate by "caving in"

    ››› ››› JOHN DELICATH & MORGAN WEILAND

    On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace said that "after giving Hillary Clinton a speaking role on Tuesday night and Bill Clinton a speaking role on Wednesday night, now Hillary Clinton's going to get her name placed in nomination and to have a roll call. Question: Is that the way President Obama would negotiate, to just keep caving in?" Wallace also asked if placing Clinton's name in nomination was "[s]mart politics or a show of weakness."

  • "[L]ive from an oil rig": NBC, MSNBC aired multiple reports on offshore drilling without explaining "environmental concerns" or disclosing GE's drilling connection

    ››› ››› BRIAN LEVY, JEREMY SCHULMAN, JOHN DELICATH, MARK BOCHKIS, DEEKSHA SHARMA, DIANNA PARKER & DAVE SALDANA

    NBC's Today and Nightly News and MSNBC Live aired segments in which correspondent Janet Shamlian reported live from an offshore drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. But while two of Shamlian's reports included quotes from a Chevron spokesperson, none of her reports included an interview with or quote from environmental organizations or explained the "environmental concerns" that Shamlian acknowledged exist. Further, neither Shamlian nor the hosts and anchors disclosed that General Electric, which owns 80 percent of NBC Universal, also has an affiliated business unit that is invested in the acquisition and production of oil and natural gas and another that is a major supplier of equipment and services for the offshore drilling industry.

  • Ignoring McCain's efforts to satisfy conservative base, NBC's Gregory touted McCain's "brand" as "being a maverick and being anti-politics"

    ››› ››› JOHN DELICATH

    On The Tim Russert Show, David Gregory asserted that Sen. John McCain has "got a pretty strong brand identity as being a maverick and being anti-politics and anti-Washington" without noting McCain's efforts to satisfy conservative Republicans during the primary, including his rapprochement with the religious right and his rightward shift on issues such as immigration and taxes.

  • Russert misquoted Clinton one day, falsely stated Clinton's and Obama's positions on NAFTA the next

    ››› ››› ADAM SHAH & JOHN DELICATH

    On The Tim Russert Show, Russert falsely claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton said in 2004: "[O]n substance, NAFTA's been good for New York and America." In fact, what Clinton said in 2004 was: "I think on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America, but I also think that there are a number of areas where we're not dealt with in an upfront way." On Meet the Press, Russert claimed that a video clip showed Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama "coming out against NAFTA"; as the clips made clear, neither candidate "c[ame] out against NAFTA."

  • Ignoring NY Times reports, Times and Wash. Post editorials made no mention of McCain campaign's waffling on public financing

    ››› ››› JOHN DELICATH

    Editorials in The New York Times and The Washington Post both asserted that Sen. John McCain has agreed to accept public financing in the general election if Sen. Barack Obama does. But neither editorial mentioned that according to a Times article, McCain advisers said earlier in the week that he would not accept public financing in the general election.