This is from an interview in Grist with Chris Mooney, author of the Republican War on Science. The interview has a great quote about the way that “he said/she said” journalism leaves the press open to puppetry by interested parties. The quote applies to any topic, not just the abuse of science. (I haven’t read Mooney’s book, so I don’t have an opinion on it).
Here’s my real fear when it comes to the press. Suppose there’s some mainstream scientific view that you want to set up a think tank to challenge — to undermine, to controversialize. Suppose further that you have a lot of money, as well as an interested and politically influential constituency on board with your agenda. In this situation, it seems to me that as long as you are clever enough, you should be able to set your political machine in motion and then sit back and watch the national media do the rest of your work for you. The press will help you create precisely the controversy that lies at the heart of your political and public relations strategy — and not only that. It will do a far better job than the best PR firm, and its services will be entirely free of charge.