Building on a long week of anti-coal attacks by the media and the Environmental Protection Agency, ABC’s June 5 “World News” revived another attack on the coal industry. ABC hyped a 2013 investigation that it conducted in partnership with the Soros-funded Center for Public Integrity (CPI). It alleged that the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions had essentially been bought off by coal companies to ignore cases of black lung disease in miners.
ABC’s David Muir declared a “victory a long time in the making,” Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Paul Wheeler for allegedly “working for the coal company.”
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On October 30, 2013, ABCNews.com posted an extensive investigation by ABC’s Chief Investigative Correspondent, Brian Ross, ABC’s Investigative Producer Matthew Mosk and CPI’s Investigative Report Chris Hamby. This report alleged that Wheeler, the leader of a unit that analyzes potential black lung cases, was either incompetent or had ignored cases of black lung in coal miners.
Wheeler examined 1573 possible cases of black lung since 2000 and found that none of those X-rays showed signs of the disease. In fact, he maintained that he hadn’t even seen a case of black lung disease since at least the early 1980s. Regardless, ABC and CPI claimed that autopsies found black lung in “more than 100 [of these] cases.
ABC’s June 5 “victory” rested on a June 2 decision by the Department of Labor to “not credit” Wheeler’s analyses. It quoted a Department of Labor lawyer, Patricia Smith, saying Wheeler “isn’t probably credible.” Smith does not have a medical degree.
But even ABC’s investigation admitted that Wheeler was a highly respected doctor, writing that “few doctors reading black lung X-rays have better credentials than Wheeler.” ABC quoted Administrative Judge Miller saying “[Wheeler’s] paper credentials are excellent…I think [he] is credited with a very distinguished career.”
Notably, NPR reported that Wheeler has consistently “retrained, retested and recertified” with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Muir’s claim that Wheeler was “working for the coal company” was never supported on June 5, but it likely relates back to the ABC/CPI investigation’s assertion that “coal companies pay Hopkins $750 for each X-ray [Wheeler] reads for black lung.” This is far from “working for the coal company,” however, especially since CPI admitted that “according to the university, none of the money goes directly to the doctors.”
Ironically, ABC never disclosed the fact that CPI was heavily funded by liberal mega-donor George Soros. Soros’ Open Society Foundations gave $3,216,328 to CPI since 2000, donating $700,000 in 2013 alone.