The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) directly attacked the Associated Press this weekend for accurate reporting around Houston's toxic cleanup.
An AP exclusive posted Saturday reported that AP reporters had been able to access seven flooded Superfund sites in the Houston area, despite the EPA's claims that several of the sites were inaccessible to agency personnel.
In a news release posted Sunday, the EPA personally blasted reporter Michael Biesecker for reporting an "incredibly misleading story ... from the comfort of Washington," citing a story Biesecker wrote earlier this summer on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that merited a later correction. The news release did not deny the AP's assertion that EPA personnel had not visited the sites in question, or note that reporter Jason Dearen, who shared the story's byline, was on the ground in Houston.
The agency would not confirm to Politico which staffer wrote the release.
"AP's exclusive story was the result of on the ground reporting at Superfund sites in and around Houston, as well as AP's strong knowledge of these sites and EPA practices," AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement Sunday.
"We object to the EPA's attempts to discredit that reporting by suggesting it was completed solely from 'the comforts of Washington' and stand by the work of both journalists who jointly reported and wrote the story."
As reported by ThinkProgress:
"President Donald Trump is notorious for attacking individual reporters in his speeches and tweets as part of an effort to generate distrust of the news media among the American public. But it is very rare, if not unprecedented, for a federal agency to specifically target an individual reporter in a press release."
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