Trump administration clamps down on government scientists talking to reporters

Trump is again taking aim at two of his favorite targets: journalists and scientists. According to recently released emails, the administration instructed federal scientists within the U.S. Geological Survey to check with its parent agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, led by Ryan Zinke, before agreeing to any interviews with reporters. According to USGS employees, the directive is a dramatic shift in its typical media relations and will hinder the ability of reporters to get quick-turnaround scientific feedback on news stories. The Interior defended its decision by saying it was merely asking employees to follow Obama-era guidelines, but the 2012 guidelines only ask for prior notice for interviews that will generate significant public interest—not all conversations with the press. Former Interior officials say they were able to speak freely to reporters in the past and are concerned about the new potential for political silencing of independent science. The move is in line with other administration efforts to clamp down on negative news and stem the rising tide of its scandals going public. (We’re looking at you, Scott and Ryan.)

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