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Exclusive AP Story Relied on EPA Intern and Disgruntled Employee

The Associated Press used an intern and a former employee with questionable motives as sources in an article that attacked the Trump administration.

AG Scott Pruitt

An Associated Press report regarding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effort to secure 54 toxic Superfund sited that are in the path of Hurricane Irma relied on a former EPA intern and an employee who lied about why she left the agency as its sources.

The story, which was titled, “AP Exclusive: Toxic sites in likely path of Irma,” was written by Michael Bisecker and Jason Dearen, who painted Stephen Sweeney as “a former employee in EPA’s office of policy.”

The Washington Examiner reported, however: “According to federal employment data, Sweeney worked at the EPA for barely more than a year as an “Administration and Office Support Student Trainee.” People in less bureaucratic circles call that a paid internship.”

The second source that the AP reporters used, Elizabeth Southerland, was formerly the director of science and technology in EPA’s Office of Water. Southerland told the AP that EPA should do more “to quickly respond with careful monitoring after the storm.”

The Washington Examiner also reported on why the AP citing Southerland was problematic:

“Like the intern, there’s reason to doubt Southerland. After more than 30 years at the EPA, she reportedly quit in protest of budget cuts and Pruitt’s leadership. But the decision had more to do with retirement than political protest. A Washington Free Beacon report found that Southerland was eligible for a pension.”

“None of any of this disqualifies Southerland or Sweeney per se. They might well know some science things. But it’s unsettling for a multinational news agency that’s reprinted as journalism’s gold standard. The AP should be able to find better sources than a biased analyst and an intern.”

It appears that the AP‘s editorial standards are a little lax when it comes to publishing a piece that attacks the Trump administration.