In latest "czar" witch hunt, Wash. Times ignores data undermining industry criticism of OSHA nominee

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

A September 15 Washington Times article on the latest "hunt" against advisers to President Obama cited a 2005 paper that Dr. David Michaels -- Obama's nominee to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) -- wrote on the success of "corporate interests" in "shaping science policy" and quoted the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) saying of Michaels: "[H]is approach in every case seemed to be to paint employers as a whole as malevolent actors." But in laying out the case against Michaels, the Times ignored evidence from the paper it cited that undermined this claim, as Michaels also wrote that "the denial of scientific evidence and the insistence on an impossible certainty are not limited to business interests," citing opposition by "zealous environmentalists" to food irradiation as an example.

Wash. Times lets NAM's Smith criticize Michaels' approach as "paint[ing] employers ... as malevolent actors"

From the September 15 Washington Times article:

Conservatives hunt for next Van Jones

Emboldened by the ouster of presidential adviser Van Jones, conservative and business groups are launching fresh challenges aimed at derailing President Obama's nominees.

The latest of these targets is David Michaels, Mr. Obama's pick to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), who as an academic published a book attacking corporate executives for the tactics they used to fight class-action lawsuits. Republican critics said they considered Mr. Michaels to be too close to trial lawyers because of his aggressive advocacy on their behalf.

"We are definitely troubled by Michaels' nomination," said Keith Smith, the director of employment and labor policy and the National Association of Manufacturers. "We will be urging the Senate committee to carefully review his nomination."

[...]

In a 2005 article "Doubt Is Their Product," which later became the basis for a book of the same name, Mr. Michaels wrote that the Bush administration had swung open the door for corporate abuse.

"I believe it is fair to say that never in our history have corporate interests been as successful as they are today in shaping science policies to their desires," he wrote.

The problem, said Mr. Smith, of the manufacturers' group, "is that his approach in every case seemed to be to paint employers as a whole as malevolent actors." [The Washington Times, 9/15/09]

Michaels' paper -- cited by the Times -- undermines Smith's criticism

Michaels: "[T]he denial of scientific evidence and the insistence on an impossible certainty are not limited to business interests." In his 2005 Scientific American paper titled, "Doubt Is Their Product," Michaels wrote that "[e]mphasizing uncertainty on behalf of big business has become a big business in itself. The product-defense firms have become experienced and successful consultants in epidemiology, biostatistics and toxicology. In fact, it is now unusual for the science behind any proposed public health or environmental regulation not to be challenged, no matter how powerful the evidence. Currently representatives of indoor tanning salons are hard at work disparaging the designation of ultraviolet radiation as a cause of skin cancer. Furthermore, the denial of scientific evidence and the insistence on an impossible certainty are not limited to business interests. For instance, some zealous environmentalists remain adamantly opposed to food irradiation -- the use of gamma rays, x-rays or electron beams to kill microbes in meats and produce -- even though the benefits of the practice greatly outweigh the risks." [Scientific American, June 2005]

Michaels: "[I]n some cases, companies may be raising legitimate arguments." In his 2005 paper, Michaels wrote, "I believe it is fair to say that never in our history have corporate interests been as successful as they are today in shaping science policies to their desires." He also wrote that "[c]orporations have mounted campaigns to question studies documenting the adverse health effects of exposure to beryllium, lead, mercury, vinyl chloride, chromium, benzene, benzidine, nickel, and a long list of other toxic chemicals and medications. What is more, Congress and the administration of President George W. Bush have encouraged such tactics by making it easier for private groups to challenge government-funded research. Although in some cases, companies may be raising legitimate arguments, the overall result is disturbing: many corporations have successfully avoided expense and inconvenience by blocking and stalling much needed protections for public health." [Scientific American, June 2005]

Michaels latest victim of "czar" witch hunt spearheaded by Fox News

Beck led the charge against Van Jones. In the weeks leading up to Van Jones' resignation as Obama's "green jobs" adviser, Fox News' Glenn Beck repeatedly attacked Jones as a "communist"; as indicative of Obama's "agenda that is radical, revolutionary, and in some cases, Marxist"; and as a "convicted felon." As Eva Paterson, president and founder of the Equal Justice Society, has explained, "Van [Jones] has never served time in any prison. He has never been convicted of any crime."

Fox personalities repeatedly attacked "czars," Obama administration officials. Fox News personalities including Beck, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Steve Doocy, Michelle Malkin, and Cody Willard have repeatedly falsely or misleadingly attacked Obama advisers, including Cass Sunstein, John Holdren, Carol Browner, Ron Bloom, Nancy-Ann DeParle, Mark Lloyd, and Ezekiel Emanuel.

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Government, Cabinet & Agencies
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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