AP Refutes Criticism By Smithsonian on Article

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By: E&P Staff

The Associated Press is standing by a recent story concerning a 2006 exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution on climate change which was allegedly softened under political pressure.

The May 21 article by Brett Zongker, which drew fire from the Institution, opened this way: “The Smithsonian Institution toned down an exhibit on climate change in the Arctic for fear of angering Congress and the Bush administration, says a former administrator at the museum.

“Among other things, the script, or official text, of last year’s exhibit was rewritten to minimize and inject more uncertainty into the relationship between global warming and humans, said Robert Sullivan, who was associate director in charge of exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.”

On Tuesday, Paul Colford, recently appointed as head of media relations at the AP, sendtthe following rather self-explanatory letter to Cristian Samper, acting secretary of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
*

The Associated Press takes issue with your statement and press release concerning our story about the 2006 Smithsonian exhibit on climate change, ?Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely.? AP?s story accurately and thoroughly reported on claims by a former Smithsonian administrator that the exhibit was toned down because of political concerns.

Further, the Smithsonian press release, issued on May 24 and quoting you, stated that ?at no time did anyone from the Congress or the White House comment on the exhibition.?

In fact, the AP story prominently included Smithsonian officials? response to the claims by former Institution administrator Robert Sullivan. It also made clear that Sullivan himself said he was unaware of any pressure from the Bush administration. In addition, the AP story went on to quote a White House spokeswoman, who said: ?The White House had no role in this exhibit.?

Smithsonian?s claim that the AP chose to ignore an interview with William Fitzhugh, director of the Smithsonian?s Arctic Studies Center and co-curator of the exhibit, is inaccurate. Mr. Fitzhugh was among those interviewed for our original story distributed on May 21. When quoted on the record in our follow-up story of May 22, Mr. Fitzhugh?s comments supported our reporting.

AP stands by its story.

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