Feature

CDC tightens controls on scientists’ communication with news media

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k675 (Published 14 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k675
  1. Peter Doshi, associate editor, The BMJ
  1. pdoshi{at}bmj.com

The requirement for all information to be vetted could undermine scientific openness, reports Peter Doshi

Questions have been raised about top-down efforts to constrain scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC directive instituted quietly last summer requires all correspondence with the news media, no matter how basic an inquiry, to be cleared through its communications office in Atlanta. The existence of the directive was first reported by the media company Axios in September,12 but a freedom of information request by The BMJ has provided new details.

The newly released emails show that all requests from the news media, “even requests asking for data that is online,” now have to be cleared centrally.

Kathryn Harben, chief of the CDC’s central news media branch, announced the protocol in an email to colleagues on 28 August: “We …

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