The Big Shill

It’s long been public knowledge that Steve Milloy‘s junkscience site was funded by tobacco companies to attack the science linking cigarette smoke with lung cancer. Last year Mother Jones reported:

Industry defenders shelled [Arctic Climate Assessment] study, and, with a dearth of science to marshal to their side, used opinion pieces and press releases instead. “Polar Bear Scare on Thin Ice,” blared FoxNews.com columnist Steven Milloy, an adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute ($75,000 from ExxonMobil) who also publishes the website JunkScience.com. Two days later the conservative Washington Times published the same column. Neither outlet disclosed that Milloy, who debunks global warming concerns regularly, runs two organizations that receive money from ExxonMobil. Between 2000 and 2003, the company gave $40,000 to the Advancement of Sound Science Center, which is registered to Milloy’s home address in Potomac, Maryland, according to IRS documents. ExxonMobil gave another $50,000 to the Free Enterprise Action Institute–also registered to Milloy’s residence. Under the auspices of the intriguingly like-named Free Enterprise Education Institute, Milloy publishes CSRWatch.com, a site that attacks the corporate social responsibility movement. Milloy did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article; a Fox News spokesman stated that Milloy is “affiliated with several not-for-profit groups that possibly may receive funding from Exxon, but he certainly does not receive funding directly from Exxon.”

Now, in The New Republic Paul Thacker has the latest revelation (subscription required):

Milloy has been affiliated with FoxNews.com since July 2000. On March 9, 2001, he wrote a column for the website headlined “secondhand smokescreen.” The piece attacked a study by researcher Stephen Hecht, who found that women living with smokers had higher levels of chemicals associated with risk of lung cancer. “If spin were science, Hecht would win a Nobel Prize,” Milloy wrote. For good measure, he heaped scorn on a 1993 Environmental Protection Agency report that also linked health risks and secondhand smoke. Later that spring, he authored another smoking-related piece for FoxNews.com. In that one, he cast aside two decades of research on the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke and concluded, “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.” You might chalk it up to Milloy’s contrarian nature. Or to his libertarian tendencies. Except, all the while, he was on the payroll of big tobacco. According to Lisa Gonzalez, manager of external communications for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, Milloy was under contract there through the end of last year. “In 2000 and 2001, some of the work he did was to monitor studies, and then we would distribute this information within to our different companies,” Gonzalez said. Although she couldn’t comment on fees paid to Milloy, a January 2001 Philip Morris budget report lists Milloy as a consultant and shows that he was budgeted for $92,500 in fees and expenses in both 2000 and 2001. Asked about Milloy’s tobacco ties, Paul Schur, director of media relations for Fox News, said, “Fox News was unaware of Milloy’s connection with Philip Morris. Any affiliation he had should have been disclosed.” Milloy could not be reached for comment.

In unrelated news Paul Schur announced that Scott McClellan had been hired as the White House correspondent for Fox News. “It is much more efficient this way”, he said. “Scott doesn’t have to ask his questions to himself out loud. He can just think them.”

Comments

  1. #1 Dano
    January 27, 2006

    Whoo-hoo! Finally exposed. Here’s another linky with a bit more text from out behind the paywall.

    Best,

    D

  2. #2 Glen Raphael
    January 27, 2006

    My first thought about “intriguingly like-named Free Enterprise Education Institute” was FEE – don’t they publish _Freeman_? Haven’t they been around forever?

    Answer: no. The well-established libertarian organization I was thinking of was the Foundation for Economic Education. Close, but not quite. I wonder if the name similarity is deliberate.

  3. #3 John Quiggin
    January 28, 2006

    It appears that Milloy got the shove from Cato just after they sacked Doug Bandow. He’s no longer on their list and a pro-Cato editor at Wikipedia says he went at the end of 2005.

  4. #4 Bill Hannegan
    February 23, 2006

    How much money has Stanton Glantz gotten from the American Cancer Society? Here is an estimate of ETS danger from David Kuneman, a researcher who has never taken a dime of tobacco money:

    Ok, lets go to all the so-called studies which “prove” ETS is a hazard. There are two kinds of ETS studies… sloppy ones and well executed ones. The sloppy ones are those which are case-controlled. This means, the researcher asks a nonsmoking lung cancer patient what airborne carcinogens he/she was exposed to. If 30% more patients respond to being exposed to lots of smoke, the researcher concludes ETS increases Lung Cancer risk 30%. These studies usually involve a few hundred patients. This is where you get your data from. Trouble is, patients are not experts and do not know if they were exposed to asbestos, lived in a home with a radon problem, etc. The patients have all heard ETS causes LC, so they blame that. Please go to http://kuneman.smokersclub.com/ for a more complete explanation.

    The well executed studies are called cohort studies. These rarely conclude ETS causes Lung cancer and Heart Disease. In cohort studies, thousands of persons are enrolled and all are healthy. They are divided among those exposed to smoke..or not. After about 30 years, the researcher contacts as many as he can locate, and determines the health of the study subjects. These are more expensive to run. The most well known of the cohort studies is the UCLA study which found no risk. These kinds of studies are less subject to bias.

    The EPA report combined the results of 13 studies, and all but one were case controlled. They could Have used all 58 studies completed at the time, but did not simply becasue if they had, they would have been forced to conclude ETS is safe. According to the EPA report, even using those 13 studies, without the Frontham study, they would have concluded ETS is not dangerous. Trouble with the Frontham study is she refuses to let anyone see her raw data. I have a copy of the complete EPA report—that’s what it says.

    In summary, we have the EPA claiming ETS is dangerous, and the Dept of Health and Human Services which only cites studies conducted by antismoking groups, and has never actually done a study of thier own claims ETS is dangerous. We have OSHA, the Congressional research service of the Library of Congress, and OakRidge Nat Labs claiming ETS is not dangerous.

    Now, lets move on to population studies. All good epidemiology text books teach than when a weak risk such as a 30% excess risk is determined from epidemiology studies, then the researcher has to conduct population studies to either confirm, or reject the 30% result. If the researcher checks the prevalence of the disease indentified, as being more common in populations, more exposed, then the risk is confirmed. The trouble is, Europeans only get about half as much Lung Cancer as we do, and they are exposed to more ETS and always were. This according to WHO. And euros smoke about 1/3 more than us, and always did and euros live about 2 years longer than we do. Another population study is that in the US, age-adjusted rates of heart disease, nonsmoker’s lung cancer, asthma, COPD, and days missed from work are higher now than than in the 1970s when we were exposed to about 9 times more smoke. There is also a higher rate of childhood cancer, birth defects, middle ear infections, asthma, and most other diseases blamed on smoke today, than in the 1970s. early cases of smoking related cancer among young adults are increasing.. Again see http://kuneman.smokersclub.com/ for more detailed info. Population studies fail to confirm the 30% increased risk these case-controlled studies claim exist. And it’s more than just a litle odd no matter which disease you’re referring to, the elevated risk caused by ETS is always claimed to be the same- 30%- not double, as Dean claims.

    I think the fact that we have removed 90% of all ETS, and nothing good happened, speaks volumes as to what we can expect if we remove the last 10% of ETS exposure. Dave Kuneman

  5. #5 Dave Burton
    June 28, 2007

    I believe that your accusation, that junkscience.com is funded by tobacco companies, is untrue.

    Milloy is a consultant, and does consulting work for various companies, which have included Phillip Morris (a tobacco company). But that doesn’t mean that his web site is funded by tobacco companies.

    Junkscience.com was hosted by Cato for years. It’s now hosted at Yahoo. There’s no evidence that tobacco companies fund it, or have ever funded it.

    Tim, I know you hate Milloy, but that doesn’t make it okay to say things about him that are untrue.

    -Dave Burton
    dave at burtonsys dot com but please no spam

  6. #6 Tim Lambert
    June 28, 2007

    Dave, it’s all true and documented in the Tobacco Documents.

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