A shadowy op-ed campaign is now smearing SpaceX (propaganda games)

C C Offline

EXCERPT: . . . In the last year, there have been dozens of negative op-eds that have sought to stir discontent about SpaceX practices, though it has been unclear if a coordinated campaign was behind them. Until recently, these op-eds appeared primarily in conservative publications.

One novel element of the Hagar op-eds is that they were published in mainstream newspapers—and in the home states of NASA's three main human spaceflight field centers in Texas, Florida, and Alabama. [...] half a dozen newspapers across the country—several in key space markets—began publishing an op-ed that criticized the process by which Boeing competitor SpaceX fuels its Falcon 9 rocket. The first op-ed appeared in a Memphis newspaper a week before the commercial crew announcement. In recent weeks, copies of the op-ed have also appeared in the Houston Chronicle, various Alabama newspapers, Albuquerque Journal, Florida Today, and The Washington Times.

Who placed the op-eds? All of these op-eds were bylined by "retired spacecraft operator" Richard Hagar, who worked for NASA during the Apollo program and now lives in Tennessee. (Based upon his limited social media postings, Hagar appears to be more interested in conservative politics than in space these days). Each op-ed cites Hagar's work on NASA's recovery from the Apollo 1 fire and the hard lessons NASA learned that day about human spaceflight.

[...] There are some factual inaccuracies here. For one thing, SpaceX does play by the same rules as Boeing for commercial crew—astronaut safety rules that NASA itself wrote. Moreover, NASA has already provisionally cleared load-and-go for Falcon 9 launches that will send the Dragon spacecraft into orbit.

To try to understand his viewpoint Ars attempted to reach Hagar by phone and email in September. In the course of this process, we learned that he did not actually submit many of these op-eds.

In fact, based upon our research, at least four of the six op-eds that we located were submitted by two people with gmail.com addresses. Their names were Josh Brevik and Casey Murray. Further research revealed that two people with these names worked as "associates" at a Washington, DC-based public relations firm named Law Media Group or LMG. We reached out to multiple editors at papers that ran the op-eds, and they confirmed that no LMG affiliation was disclosed to them. Attempts to reach Julian Epstein, the chief executive of LMG, by phone and email were unsuccessful....

MORE: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/10/...ce-cities/
Syne Offline
Genetic fallacy. Instead of explaining why, for instance, criticism of load-and-go fueling was, itself, invalid, they just muddy up the water with all this conspiracy nonsense about the political leanings and locations of the sources. Even though a quick Google search shows that load-and-go was enough of a concern that a NASA safety panel had to sign off on it.

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