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Casual Libel at ThinkProgress

I’ve had quite a bit of fun at the expense of ThinkProgress since that site got on my radar screen earlier this year. But TP has no regard for truth or accuracy, and its penchant for casual libel isn’t funny. Another case in point is this post on Saturday: “After David Koch Leaves NIH Board, NIH Hands Down Long-Delayed Classification Of Top Koch Pollutant As A Carcinogen.”
This is, of course, the latest chapter in ThinkProgress’s crazed attacks on the Koch brothers. The gist of TP’s most recent accusation is that David Koch blocked the National Institutes of Health from classifying formaldehyde as a carcinogen while he was a member of that agency’s board. As usual with TP’s attacks, not a word of it is true. TP writes:

Last year, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported that billionaire David Koch, whose company Georgia Pacfic (a subsidiary of Koch Industries) is one of the country’s top producers of formaldehyde, was appointed to the NIH cancer board at a time when the NIH delayed action on the chemical.

David Koch, a cancer survivor who has donated more than $200 million to fight the disease, has never been on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the NIH. Rather, he was appointed by President Bush to the National Cancer Advisory Board in 2004. (This was before Koch Industries acquired Georgia Pacific, which manufactures formaldehyde, mostly for use in its own building products.) The role of the National Cancer Advisory Board is to “review and approve grants (second level review) before they can be awarded by [the National Cancer Institute].” NCAB has nothing to do with evaluating the carcinogenicity of substances, and the alleged carcinogenicity of formaldehyde has not been addressed by NCAB in any way.
ThinkProgress adds:

Faced with mounting pressure from Greenpeace and the scientific community, Koch left offered [sic] an early resignation from the board in October.

This claim is false; ThinkProgress just made it up. David Koch served his full term on the NCAB board; it expired in June 2010:

On behalf of the NCI, Dr. Niederhuber recognized and thanked six NCAB members whose terms of office are expiring as of this meeting. For each, he provided a brief description of their particular contributions to the NCI over and above their service on the NCAB. The retiring members are: Dr. Lloyd K. Everson, Vice Chairman and Member of the Board of Directors, US Oncology Incorporated; Ms. Giusti; Mr. Koch; Dr. Diana M. Lopez, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami, Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine; Dr. Carolyn D. Runowicz, Director, The Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, Physician in Chief and Senior Investigator, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Clinical Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona.

David Koch and the other members whose terms expired in June stayed on for one more meeting in September 2010 while the NCAB sought replacements for them, and all rotated off the board as of the December 2010 meeting.
Everyone makes mistakes, but ThinkProgress is unique. It doesn’t just get things wrong; it consistently fabricates lies out of whole cloth. Anyone who relies on ThinkProgress for information is asking to be deceived.
David Koch has responded to the smear that was first leveled against his work with NCAB by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker:

For Koch, cancer is personal. He serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center–he donated more than $40 million to the center–and he is, as we’re speaking on the phone, actually at a NCAB meeting in Bethesda, Maryland.
“I can’t ignore that allegation, “Koch says. “I’ve been on this board for six and half years and I’ve attended about 75 percent of the meetings. The board makes recommendations to the National Cancer Institute regarding gifts and grants to support research endeavors.
They aren’t responsible for scientific reviews or for providing input on scientific recommendations.” His voice rises. “I have never been in a meeting where the classification of formaldehyde issue has arisen, nor have I tried to influence its evaluation. It’s an outrageous accusation.”

There is not a single fact in TP’s latest fantasy or in any linked article that contradicts anything that David Koch said about his service on the NCAB.
UPDATE: ThinkProgress has corrected its laughably false claim that David Koch resigned prematurely from the NCAB because of pressure from Greenpeace, but has not yet acknowledged that the entire premise of its story was a lie.

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