Rather shoddy journalism from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today:
Amid allegations that the White House censored CDC Director Julie Gerberding’s written testimony on climate change, a U.S. senator Wednesday called for the release of documents detailing how and why changes were made.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, sent a letter to President Bush seeking all drafts of the written testimony for comparison with what Gerberding presented at a committee hearing Tuesday.
Boxer also asked the White House to disclose which officials were involved in reviewing her statement and what led to the deletion of nearly seven pages about the health consequences of climate change.
“I am deeply concerned that important scientific and health information was removed from the CDC Director’s testimony at the last minute,” Boxer said in the letter.
Ten paragraphs into the article, we hear from the CDC Director herself:
Gerberding said Wednesday she was happy with her testimony and that the review process was normal. In a lunch-hour speech before the Atlanta Press Club, Gerberding said she made all the points to Congress that she wanted to make.
“This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” Gerberding said of the furor. “I don’t let people put words in my mouth. I spoke the truth to Congress.”
The testimony went through many versions, perhaps as many as 40, Gerberding said. “This was not an issue of someone trying to cover up a connection between climate change and health,” she said.
Many White House administrations have reviewed Congressional testimony of government agency chiefs in the past — it’s just part of the process.
So, who other than a constant critic of the administration, also had a problem with the White House editing of the CDC director’s comments?
The Union of Concerned Scientists:
To the Union of Concerned Scientists, it appears Gerberding was censored. “At first blush this is consistent with what we’ve seen throughout the Bush administration on climate change,” said Michael Halpern, outreach coordinator of the group’s Scientific Integrity Program.
The reporter doesn’t attempt to identify “The Union of Concerned Scientists.” Despite its egalitarian name, the group is actually a liberal advocacy organization, according to the policy proposals on its Web site.
With all these facts, this issue looks like a typical partisan attack of dubious news value. Too bad the editors chose to make it the top story on page one.