Chairmen Gordon, Miller, Lampson Send Letter to Commerce Secretary Regarding New Media Policy
March 30, 2007
Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez
U.S. Department of Commerce
14th and Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Secretary Gutierrez,
As you are aware, the House Committee on Science and Technology has been particularly conerned about efforts by media officials to censor or interfere with federal scientists communicating with the press, the public and their peers.
On March 28, the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing on how media policies have contributed to distortions of the public's understanding of climate science. At that hearing, we received testimony regarding a new report by the Government Accountability Project entitled, "Redacting the Science of Climate Change"... That report draw extensively from interviews and documents from the Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There is ample evidence of politically-motivated efforts to filter which scientists are made available to the press. In addition, there are numerous examples of climate scientists being either directed in what they should say or having to clear their statement on climate science with public affairs officers prior to speaking with the press.
We are pleased that you ave undertaken to put in place a new media policy. It seems to be an honest effort at establishing guidelines for the Department that will provide protections for federal scientists. The rhetorical commitment to openness contained in the "principles" section of this new policy is admirable. However, we have concerns about the current draft that we want to bring to your attention.