What does it take for some federal agencies to respond to conservative media requests?

The Daily Caller has learned that at least one federal agency - The Centers for Disease Control -- is willing to lie to conservative media in order to avoid interviews.

The DC obtained a series of emails through an FOIA request showing that a senior press official "gets very worked up" when conservative media contacts the press office.

The freeze-out came in response to an inquiry into a study released in February by the CDC, which found a drastic, 43-percent decline in obesity rates for children between 2 and 5 years old.

The New York Times touted the findings in a front page article, and both the CDC and first lady Michelle Obama tied the results to her Let’s Move! anti-obesity campaign.

“Karen gets very worked up whenever conservative outlets want to do interviews,” wrote Jeffrey Lancashire, a spokesman for the National Center of Health Statistics, a part of the CDC, in an email to Cynthia Ogden, the lead scientist on the study.

Lancashire was referring to Karen Hunter, a senior press officer at the federal agency.

“But that has caused us trouble in the past,” Lancashire continued, “because it raises unnecessary flags as to why we’re doing some interviews but not others.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation, an affiliate of TheDC, submitted interview requests to Ogden through email and voice mail asking for more insight into the study, and whether she believed Let’s Move! played a factor in the decline in childhood obesity.

Despite finding that obesity among 2 to 5 year-olds had fallen from around 14 percent to just over 8 percent from 2003 to 2012, the study showed that obesity rates were flat for all children between 2 and 19 years old. And for some groups — such as women over 60 — obesity rates had increased during the decade.

“This was a secondary subgroup analysis that used unadjusted data, and a drop was not seen in any other age, gender or race or ethnicity subgroup,” Thomas Robinson, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Stanford University of Medicine, told TheDCNF in February.

“Tell him you can’t do an interview because you’re on leave and unavailable due to a family activity/event (or just say you’re on leave),” Lancashire wrote Ogden.

Ogden did not take Lancashire’s advice. She did not respond at all to the interview request.

But, according to the emails, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Ogden did respond to other media outlets, indicating she was not on leave.

I would imagine that this kind of thing is not unusual in official Washington. I would also be surprised if the "freeze out" was limited to conservative media. Individual reporters have gotten blackballed by agencies in the past regardless of their ideology - usually for exposing corruption and incompetence. Bureaucrats hate to be challenged, and in the case of the Daily Caller looking into the obesity study, it's pretty clear the CDC knew that the numbers were manipulated for political purposes.




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