Trump's EPA head baselessly accuses the media of 'colluding' with environmental groups


EPA head Andrew Wheeler sounds just like Trump.

EPA administrator Scott Wheeler took a positively Trumpian tone Wednesday when he baselessly accused the media of "colluding" with the Sierra Club, an environmental group.

Of course, his claim is without any evidence whatsoever, but that probably doesn't matter to him.

CNN reports that Wheeler was speaking to the EPA's scientific advisory board. The group was meeting to discuss the priorities of the agency, which presumably doesn't include Wheeler's grievances with the press. Wheeler told the group that he would "go off my script for a minute."

He wanted to complain, again, about something he'd first raised two days earlier at a National Press Club luncheon. A Yahoo News reporter had shortened a quote of Wheeler's. Wheeler had originally said reporters were doing "a disservice to the American public and sound policymaking by not informing the public of the progress that this nation has made." When Yahoo's reporter tweeted it out, he quoted Wheeler as saying "the media does a disservice to the American public" by reporting on global warming.

According to Wheeler, the Sierra Club then made some fundraising efforts based on the shortened tweet, which he somehow felt mischaracterized his words.

Up until now, this sounds like a run-of-the-mill Republican grievance about not getting favorable enough press. But then Wheeler took it into conspiracy theory territory. He said that since the Sierra Club had fundraised off the tweet, it made him "wonder if the reporters from the New York Times were colluding with the Sierra Club for fundraising purposes."

A New York Times reporter did share the Yahoo News tweet. However, it's in no way clear how Wheeler thought that different organizations tweeting about his quote constitutes collusion of any sort. Additionally, that same Times reporter later posted Wheeler's entire quote, which undercuts the collusion narrative quite a bit.

Wheeler has only been head of the EPA a few months, but during that time he's racked up a record of mischaracterizations. He dismissed a climate report from the EPA's own scientists and then was forced to admit he had never read the report. He's overseeing a scientifically unsound re-evaluation of the harm from coal plants — an industry he happens to have lobbied for.

Wheeler's belief that anything he doesn't like must be collusion is baseless. Trump's overwrought, tantrum-fueled style is infecting his Cabinet.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.