Podcast | How corporations broke Americans’ trust in science

Former OSHA head David Michaels explains how misinformation campaigns set the stage for the federal government's pandemic response.

Protester wearing Trump mask

More than a thousand people gathered for a protest opposing Washington state's ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ to slow coronavirus outbreak Sunday, April 19, 2020, in Olympia. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

After two or more months of lockdown, states across the country have begun reopening with the support of the federal government. But with infection rates holding steady or increasing in many states, risk remains for citizens and, especially, for workers. Every state is making a risk assessment, with livelihoods and lives hanging in the balance. But while the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing these assessments to play out for the world to see, some version of these difficult decisions has always been with us. In the workplace and the marketplace, risk is unavoidable. David Michaels knows all about that risk and the forces that have shaped, and warped, its assessment. The former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Michaels is the author of The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception. On the latest episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast he tells us how misinformation campaigns launched by Big Tobacco and corporations are helping shape the federal government's response to the coronavirus and what that means for the new risk we all now face. Plus, Crosscut reporter David Kroman talks to us about a big public works project in Seattle that is facing a big problem.


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