House Science Committee members asked Trump to stop reading fake news—including from Time magazine

Obsession
"America First"
Obsession
"America First"

A fascination with fake science news isn’t just the dalliance of Donald Trump fans opposing climate change. The US president reportedly dips a toe into that realm with some regularity, thanks to aides slipping dubious stories on his desk. And members of the U.S. House of Representative Committee on Science, Space & Technology are more than a little freaked out by that.

House democrats on the science committee including Don Beyer of Virginia, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, and Mark Takano of California sent Trump a letter to ask him to please stop, Popular Science reports.

“Dear President Trump: We are concerned about the process by which you receive information,” the letter, obtained by Popular Science, begins. “According to a story reported by Politico on May 15, 2017, your Deputy National Security Advisor passed along printouts of two Time magazine cover stories – one, a previously identified and debunked internet hoax purporting to be from the 1970s warning of a coming ice age, and the other, from 2008, a special report on global warming, with the intention of undermining concern about climate change.”

“Disseminating stories from dubious sources has been a recurring issue with your administration,” they wrote, going on to remind the president that his conviction that president Barack Obama tapped his phones was based on fake news.

The representatives went on to remind the president that he has, or had, a whole office full of experts at his disposal to advise him on scientific issues. But instead, Trump chose to let the Office of Science and Technology Policy, once a staff of 24, dwindle to one person and no director. “If you appoint a qualified OSTP Director, you will have a reliable source of policy advice for matters related to science and technology, which forms the bedrock of our national security and economic power,” they wrote. “Relying on factual technical and scientific data has helped make America the greatest nation in the world.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear President Trump:

We are concerned about the process by which you receive information. According to a story reported by Politico on May 15, 2017, your Deputy National Security Advisor passed along printouts of two Time magazine cover stories – one, a previously identified and debunked internet hoax purporting to be from the 1970s warning of a coming ice age, and the other, from 2008, a special report on global warming, with the intention of undermining concern about climate change.

Disseminating stories from dubious sources has been a recurring issue with your administration. You previously made the false claim that President Obama ordered your phones to be “tapped” based on false reports which have subsequently been contradicted by senior U.S. intelligence officials. You also falsely stated that millions of votes were cast against you “illegally” after reading about subsequently-debunked “research” pushed by alt-right websites. This, by no means, is a comprehensive list of your activities peddling fake news.

Where scientific policy is concerned, the White House should make use of the latest, most broadly-supported science. You have a tool at your disposal in this regard, should you wish to make use of it, in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) which, under your administration, has been left largely unstaffed and without a director. If you appoint a qualified OSTP Director, you will have a reliable source of policy advice for matters related to science and technology, which forms the bedrock of our national security and economic power.

Until the OSTP is adequately staffed and the director position filled by a qualified, objective scientist who understands the difference between alternative news peddled on alt-right websites and legitimate well-vetted scientific facts, we fear that you will continue to be vulnerable to misinformation and fake news. Relying on factual technical and scientific data has helped make America the greatest nation in the world. We therefore urge you to quickly appoint a qualified, widely-respected candidate to direct OSTP. Furthermore, it’s critical that anyone you nominate represent the views of the broader scientific community, as was the case for both Presidents Bush and Obama.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search