|The New Republic has charged FoxNews.com science columnist Steven Milloy with a conflict of interest, revealing that for a five-year period during which he penned columns debunking studies on the effects of secondhand smoke, he was under contract to Philip Morris.
New Republic reported that in Mr. Milloy's final column of 2005, he wrote a top 10 list of the “junk science claims” of the year. In it, Mr. Milloy challenged the research of Penn State professor Michael Mann, whose published research showed a “dramatic rise” in global temperatures in the 20th century, after several centuries of little to no change in climate.
The New Republic article then goes on to cite two columns Milloy wrote in the spring of 2001 for the FoxNews.com Web site that also challenged research findings. One regarded women living with smokers who had higher levels of chemicals associated with lung cancer. The other was about the dangers of secondhand smoke, to which Milloy wrote that “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.”
The problem? Milloy was under contract to tobacco giant Philip Morris from at least 2000 to the end of 2005. A spokeswoman for Altria Group, parent company to Philip Morris, told New Republic that Milloy “monitored studies, and then we would distribute this information within to our different companies.” Paul Schur, director of media relations for Fox News, told New Republic that “Fox News is unaware of Milloy’s connection with Philip Morris. Any affiliation he had should have been disclosed.”
Milloy did not comment.