ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, a peer-reviewed scientific journal serving environmental scientists worldwide, hired Paul Thacker as a general news reporter -- not an investigative journalist. But when Thacker came across junkscience.com, a Web site that challenges scientific findings on hotbed issues such as global warming, he decided to look into the background of the site's publisher, Steven J. Milloy. Thacker discovered that Milloy had ties to both the oil and tobacco industries -- and that he was on the Philip Morris payroll as a science consultant while he was discrediting studies on the dangers of second-hand smoke in his role as a columnist for foxnews.com.
After publishing his findings on Milloy, Thacker investigated cases in which ostensibly grassroots organizations promoted industry arguments on environmental issues. In an article called "Hidden Ties" he wrote about a group called Project Protect, which appeared to be made up of concerned Oregon citizens. Project Protect advocated legislation promoting the cutting of trees to prevent forest fires -- a position also promoted by the timber industry. Thacker discovered Project Protect had a $2.9 million media campaign, and was led by an individual who had strong ties to the timber industry.