The Republican War on Science

What a great system: the Rethuglicans have so spooked the media that everything must have 'two sides', even when one side is demonstrably false.

Book Review: 'The Republican War on Science,' by Chris Mooney - New York Times
Last spring, a magazine asked me to look into a whistleblower case involving a United States Fish and Wildlife Service biologist named Andy Eller. Eller, a veteran of 18 years with the service, was fired after he publicly charged it with failing to protect the Florida panther from voracious development. One of the first species listed under the Endangered Species Act, the panther haunts southwest Florida's forests, which builders are transforming into gated golf communities. After several weeks of interviews, I wrote an article that called the service's treatment of Eller “shameful” - and emblematic of the Bush administration's treatment of scientists who interfere with its probusiness agenda.

My editor complained that the piece was too “one-sided”; I needed to show more sympathy to Eller's superiors in the Wildlife Service and to the Bush administration. I knew what the editor meant: the story I had written could be dismissed as just another anti-Bush diatribe; it would be more persuasive if it appeared more balanced. On the other hand, the reality was one-sided, to a startling degree. An ardent conservationist, Eller had dreamed of working for the Wildlife Service since his youth; he collected first editions of environmental classics like Rachel Carson's “Silent Spring.” The officials who fired him based their denial that the panther is threatened in part on data provided by a former state wildlife scientist who had since become a consultant for developers seeking to bulldoze panther habitat. The officials were clearly acting in the spirit of their overseer, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, a property-rights advocate who has questioned the constitutionality of aspects of the Endangered Species Act.
This episode makes me more sympathetic than I might otherwise have been to “The Republican War on Science” by the journalist Chris Mooney. As the title indicates, Mooney's book is a diatribe, from start to finish.

Republican War on Science
Republican War on Science

Yeah, that's the problem. Sometimes facts are furious things. All the screaming about 'junk science' notwithstanding, mercury in fish IS NOT A GOOD THING, global warming is a real problem, and so forth. Of course, from the Republican's point of view, the false 'fair and balanced' debacle works, so why not continue pressuring reporters and editors to willfully print falsehoods, smears and unprovable allegations. As long as the 'gatekeepers' allow themselves to be manipulated, the strategy will continue.

And publishers wonder why newspaper circulation is down....

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on December 18, 2005 5:59 PM.

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