Deutschgate in the Media
Not everyone has covered this story well, and some haven’t even covered it at all. Although The Washington Post did cover the Deutsch resignation on Wednesday, the same day as The New York Times, it did not mention the source of the information on Deutsch’s lying about having a college degree. Although it briefly mentioned The Scientific Activist in an article on Thursday, it never acknowledged the fact that I personally called their National Desk and described my findings on Monday night, the same night I published them on the web! That’s the last time I give them a hot news tip.
Incomplete coverage isn’t as bad as no coverage, which is what's happening at Texas A&M University’s student paper The Battalion. There hasn't been a single article about the NASA censorship scandal, even though the original story came out over a week and a half ago. All of this is occurring despite the fact that the story is about A&M and the fact that I talked to the editors of The Battalion on Monday and Tuesday, and I submitted a letter about this for publication! Why hasn’t their been any coverage? Editor in Chief Melissa Filbin has the explanation. “I just don’t see the angle,” she told me. Are you serious? No angle? Filbin told me explicitly on Tuesday that there would be no coverage of this story. Unsurprisingly, a writer at the paper described to me what’s going on as “Lots of politics.”
If you would like to submit a letter for publication, submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the paper's website states that letters are supposed to be 200 words or less.
I used to write for The Battalion, and in general I think it is professional and well-done, especially for a student paper. This situation is pretty sad, though. I hope that the editors of The Battalion will change their minds, because so far they have done a great disservice to the students of Texas A&M University, many of whom rely on the student paper to find out what’s going on in the world.
Update (9 February 23:59 GMT): It looks like The Battalion will be running a story about Deutsch this Friday after all. Thanks go to lunaliar for bringing this to my attention. I called the Editor in Chief, and although she wouldn't tell me much, she verified that the article would indeed feature an interview with Deutsch himself. Deutsch only just broke his media silence, but based on what he's said so far, I think we can expect something pretty ridiculous. I hope that The Battalion will provide a detailed background on the story, but since it has waived that option so far by not reporting on it at all, I'll believe it when I see it. Either way, I don't think it would hurt to keep them on their toes, so I'll leave the contact information up in case you have anything you want to say.
Update (10 February 9:26 GMT): Forget about what I said in the last update. The Battalion is in fact not running a story today on the NASA scandal, despite Melissa Filbin telling me and others that there would be one.
Update (10 February 20:52 GMT): I probably should have made this update earlier, but I have been busy all day making up for lost time in the research lab this week! As it has already been noted in the comments for this post, The Battalion did apparently run an AP story on Deutsch today, although I haven't seen it (it does not appear on the paper's website). While I am glad that there has been some coverage, this isn't a substitute for more in depth reporting, and it definitely does not make up for not reporting on this incident at all until now. I should make it clear that this has nothing to do with mentioning me or The Scientific Activist. Instead, this is about the students who relied on this paper for their news and were left in the dark on this subject. Regardless, The Battalion has proven itself in the past to be a professional paper, and with the large student body and wealth of resources available to it by operating at such a big public university, I have faith that it can overcome this and not drop the ball the next time a story like this comes up.
Update:I took down the contact information for The Battalion since it was no longer relevant.