Paul D. Thacker

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Paul D. Thacker, sometimes bylined as Paul Thacker, is an American journalist who specializes in science, medicine, and environmental reporting.[citation needed] He has written for Science, JAMA, Salon, The New Republic, and Environmental Science & Technology.


Thacker earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, with an emphasis in ecology and evolution, from the University of California, Davis in 1997.[1][2]


In 2009, he worked on the United States Senate Committee on Finance for Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, investigating medical research conflicts of interest.[3] He left Congress in 2010, the day before releasing a report on ghostwriting in a medical journal run by American Heart Association.[4]

In September 2006, Thacker wrote a story for Salon that reported on political suppression of climate science within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during the G.W. Bush presidency.[5] The agency is a part of the United States Department of Commerce. Chuck Fuqua, a Department of Commerce official, was choosing which NOAA scientists could speak to the press about the link between global warming and hurricanes. Fuqua has no training in science. One of the documents Thacker found was released by the office of Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman.[6] Based partly on Thacker’s reporting, 14 Senators launched an investigation into NOAA and NASA.

In 2006, Thacker resigned and was then fired from the journal Environmental Science & Technology, a publication of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Thacker had written a series of exposés that a senior ACS official claimed showed an anti-industry bias.[7][8] Thacker wrote an account of this for the journal of the Society of Environmental Journalists, writing that the matter concerned an article he had written on the Weinberg Group[9] That year, Thacker won second place for the Weinberg Group article in the annual awards presented by the US Society of Environmental Journalists.[10] Later that year, Thacker’s work was profiled on Exposé: America's Investigative Reports.[11]

In Thacker's story on the Weinberg Group, he wrote about a letter that the group sent to DuPont outlining a plan to protect DuPont from litigation and regulation over Teflon.[12] The Weinberg Group had done similar work for Big Tobacco and then began working in Europe to defeat alcohol regulations.[13]

In August 2015, Thacker and fellow journalist Charles Seife wrote articles for PLOS One and the Los Angeles Times on the importance for freedom of information laws in uncovering corruption in science[14][15] The piece in PLOS was retracted, which Thacker wrote about for The New York Times, emphasizing again the importance of freedom of information laws.[16][17]


  1. ^ "Paul Thacker". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  2. ^ "Paul D. Thacker - Biography from LegiStorm". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  3. ^ Wadman M (2009), "Money in biomedicine: The senator's sleuth", Nature, 461 (7262): 330–334, doi:10.1038/461330a, PMID 19759593.
  4. ^ Arnold, Matthew (October 2010). "Grassley's Ghostwriter Exits the Hill" (PDF). Medical Marketing & Media. p. 36. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 29, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  5. ^ Thacker, Paul D. (September 19, 2006). "Climate-controlled White House". Salon. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  6. ^ Rep. Waxman Releases Internal Commerce Department E-Mails on Climate Change Archived September 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
  7. ^ Wadman, Meredith (September 17, 2009). "Money in biomedicine: The senator's sleuth". Nature. 461 (7262): 330–334. doi:10.1038/461330a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 19759593.
  8. ^ Investigative reporting can produce a "higher obligation," Paul D. Thacker, SEJournal, Summer 2007
  9. ^ Investigative reporting can produce a "higher obligation," Paul D. Thacker, SEJournal, Summer 2007
  10. ^ Winners: SEJ 6th Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment
  11. ^ Science Fiction, WNET
  12. ^ The Weinberg Proposal, Environmental Science & Technology, February 22, 2006
  13. ^ McKee, Martin (2006). "A European Alcohol Strategy" (PDF). British Medical Journal. 333 (7574): 871–872. doi:10.1136/ PMC 1626340. PMID 17047004.
  14. ^ Thacker, Paul D.; Seife, Charles (August 13, 2015). "The Fight Over Transparency: Round Two". PLOS Blog. Archived from the original on August 22, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  15. ^ Seife, Charles; Thacker, Paul (August 21, 2015). "Op-Ed: Why it's OK for taxpayers to 'snoop' on scientists". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  16. ^ McCook, Alison (August 24, 2015). "Following criticism, PLOS removes blog defending scrutiny of science". Retraction Watch. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  17. ^ Thacker, Paul D. (January 9, 2016). "Opinion: Scientists, Give Up Your Emails". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 20, 2020.

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