“Political Science” from PBS Now

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From the PBS television program “NOW”: “Political Science,” on the politicization of science by the Bush administration. Originally broadcast on 22 July 2005.  16 minute story—climate change segment from 8:54 – 16:00

"Is the Bush administration suppressing hard science on the environment to further its political agenda in policy areas like global warming? NOW’s Michele Mitchell investigates allegations that a former energy industry lobbyist was rewriting scientific findings to support the political priorities of the White House. In the report, government insider Rick Piltz says that Philip Cooney, a lawyer and former energy industry lobbyist, was making changes to reports on behalf of the White House and that it was part of a pattern to downplay the effects of global warming. `The ‘fox guarding the henhouse’ aspect of it was so blatant,’ says Piltz. `You had somebody who was essentially an oil industry lobbyist, who now is the White House environment policy maven.’ The White House announced Cooney’s resignation as chief staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in June."

[Excerpt]

David Brancaccio:Is the government rewriting science to keep you in the dark about global warming?

Rick Piltz:
This Administration is impeding the flow of honest scientific communication. Through suppressing information, through distorting information, this Administration is misinforming the public about the nature of the climate change problem.

The science is great, but they don’t use it. They’ll point to how much money they spend on it. But when it gives them a message that doesn’t fit with their political preconceptions, they turn away from it. If the document was already out, they would suppress further references to it. If it would have to go through them, they would manipulate it. If they didn’t like what it said, they would ignore it.

The fox guarding the henhouse aspect of it was so blatant. I mean, you had somebody who was essentially an oil industry lobbyist, who now is the White House environmental policy maven. Well, what is an oil industry lobbyist doing, coming in on the science program document, and taking out stuff that is being taken out, to me, it seems, because it conveys a way of talking and thinking about the subject that just doesn’t suit the White House politically?

It was undermining the credibility and integrity of the program.

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