Another Payola Scandal... This Time Fox News Columnist On Big Tobacco Payroll...

In his final column of the year, science columnist Steven Milloy listed "the top 10 junk science claims of 2005." For number nine, Milloy attacked the research of Michael Mann, a Penn State scientist who, in 1999, published research showing a dramatic rise in global temperatures during the twentieth century, after hundreds of years with little climate change. Calling Mann's science "dubious," Milloy praised Representative Joe Barton of Texas, whose calls for an investigation into Mann's methodology last June were cut short when the scientific community and members of Congress protested it as a witch hunt. Representative Sherwood Boehlert, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, wrote to Barton, "The only conceivable explanation for the investigation is to attempt to intimidate a prominent scientist and to have Congress put its thumbs on the scales of a scientific debate."

... Milloy has been affiliated with since July 2000. On March 9, 2001, he wrote a column for the website headlined "secondhand smokescreen." The piece attacked a study by researcher Stephen Hecht, who found that women living with smokers had higher levels of chemicals associated with risk of lung cancer. "If spin were science, Hecht would win a Nobel Prize," Milloy wrote. For good measure, he heaped scorn on a 1993 Environmental Protection Agency report that also linked health risks and secondhand smoke. Later that spring, he authored another smoking-related piece for In that one, he cast aside two decades of research on the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke and concluded, "Secondhand smoke is annoying to many nonsmokers. That is the essence of the controversy and where the debate should lie--the rights of smokers to smoke in public places versus the rights of nonsmokers to be free of tobacco smoke." You might chalk it up to Milloy's contrarian nature. Or to his libertarian tendencies. Except, all the while, he was on the payroll of big tobacco. According to Lisa Gonzalez, manager of external communications for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, Milloy was under contract there through the end of last year. "In 2000 and 2001, some of the work he did was to monitor studies, and then we would distribute this information within to our different companies," Gonzalez said. Although she couldn't comment on fees paid to Milloy, a January 2001 Philip Morris budget report lists Milloy as a consultant and shows that he was budgeted for $92,500 in fees and expenses in both 2000 and 2001. Asked about Milloy's tobacco ties, Paul Schur, director of media relations for Fox News, said, "Fox News is unaware of Milloy's connection with Philip Morris. Any affiliation he had should have been disclosed." Milloy could not be reached for comment.
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