USA Today fell to a new low in science and election coverage this week with a column speculating about presidential candidate Donald Trump’s science agenda, written by two members of a corporate front group that was not identified as a corporate front group.
The column, “Would President Trump Be a Science Guy?“, was authored by Hank Campbell and Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health, a group that promotes various corporate agendas via its science commentaries while secretly receiving significant funding from corporations, according toleaked documents reported by Mother Jones.
ACSH has made many indefensible and incorrect statements about science over the years — for example, the group has claimed there is no scientific consensus on global warming, that “fracking doesn’t pollute water or air,” and that “there is no evidence” that BPA in consumer products is harmful to health.
A paper trail further suggests that ACSH works quid pro quo for its corporate funders. In one email from 2009, ACSH staff solicited a $100,000 donation from chemical giant Syngenta to produce a paper and “consumer friendly booklet” about pesticide exposures that would help defend Syngenta’s pesticide atrazine. The donation was to be “separate and distinct from general operating support that Syngenta has been so generously providing over the years,” according to the email.
None of this context was apparent to readers of USA Today’s Trump Science column written by ACSH president Hank Campbell and ACSH senior fellow Alex Berezow.
The main point of the column seems to be to plug their pro-industry websites and promote themselves as thinkers of science. Without many facts to illuminate Trump’s science agenda, the authors are left to engage in naval-gazing speculation, and to “imagine Trump…