George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters’ access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word “theory” at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said.
Mr. Deutsch’s resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his résumé on file at the agency asserted.
That last little bit of information, incidentally, uncovered by a blogger (go team blog!). I read about his not graduating yesterday and wondered about whether to append the information on the earlier piece I wrote about the fellow, but eventually decided against it on the grounds that mocking someone for not having a college degree was just a cheap shot (particularly since I can think of at least one extremely smart person I know who if memory served never bothered to even finish high school). However, now that I discover that not only did Mr. Deutsch not graduate, he lied about graduating on his NASA resume, I feel ever so much better about it. Lack of a degree is not an issue; lying about it is. In any event, he’s now out on his ass. This would be a lovely time for the fellow to go back to J-School and take that ethics class I suspect he might have skipped.
However, as I noted in the comment thread to the previous discussion, Mr. Deutsch isn’t the problem, he’s a symptom of the problem. Here’s a relevant quote from the article:
Yesterday, Dr. Hansen said that the questions about Mr. Deutsch’s credentials were important, but were a distraction from the broader issue of political control of scientific information.
“He’s only a bit player,” Dr. Hansen said of Mr. Deutsch. ” The problem is much broader and much deeper and it goes across agencies. That’s what I’m really concerned about.”
Oddly enough, that’s what I’m concerned about as well. For every fumbling apparatchik like Deutsch who gets hauled up for ridicule, I suspect there are a couple of others who are less stupid, whose resumes are in order, and who toil away fiddling with truthful information meant to benefit the public — scientific and otherwise — because it runs counter of an administration’s political goals. Deutsch is a case of one down, uncountable others to go.
And of course now that Deutsch has resigned, there’s another presidential appointee position open. Here’s a hint, Mr. President: have someone fact-check the resume first. It’s a small detail. But it’s an important one.