In February, there were several press reports about the Bush administration exercising message control on the subject of climate change. The New Republic cited numerous instances in which top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and scientists at the National Hurricane Center sought to downplay links between more-intense hurricanes and global warming. NOAA scientist Thomas Knutson told the Wall Street Journal he’d been barred from speaking to CNBC because his research suggested just such a link.
At the time, Bush administration officials denied that they did any micromanaging of media requests for interviews. But a large batch of e-mails obtained by Salon through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that the White House was, in fact, controlling access to scientists and vetting reporters.
When NOAA press officer Laborde was contacted to discuss the e-mails, he denied that interviews were subject to approval from White House officials. Confronted with his own e-mails, however, he said, “If you already knew the answer, why did you ask the question?”