Spin City

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Having just weighed in on the need for journalists to remain skeptical of government agencies adept at spinning them away from bad news, I was greeted by a House Oversight Committee hearing Tuesday that put an exclamation point on that skepticism.

The issue is the degree to which the Bush administration has tried to control and modify the science on global warming.

Turns out one of the people doing the editing of an annual report from various administration scientists–NOAA, NASA–to Congress on the state of the climate was a former oil company lobbyist who edited out sections he called speculative musings and others might call warnings about global warming.

The hearing repeatedly turned to those scientists' access to the media and the public.

Turns out that in 2004, the Bush administration instituted a policy on media interviews requiring a public affairs staffer–"minder" in the jargon–to sit in on all interviews, including ones that required them to travel on our dime to get there–ostensibly to make sure the scientists were not misquoted but, at least in the view of some present and former staffers, to make sure they didn't say anything that strayed too far from the administration line.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that this same oversight committee–chaired by Henry Waxman–looking into the whole video news release issue, which also involves how the administration controls a story.

Stay tuned.

By John Eggerton