With the U.S. presidential election less than a month away, three prestigious science publications have recently run editorials about what’s happening—or not happening—in Washington. Holden Thorp, the editor in chief at Science, detailed this administration’s coronavirus missteps in an editorial succinctly titled “Trump Lied About Science.” In another editorial, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine called our current political leaders’ response to COVID-19 “consistently inadequate,” and Nature’s editors have endorsed Joe Biden for president.
An interesting piece on how far commentary can go before being seen as political.
Also see Top US science journals risk reputations to battle Trump (THE Subscription required).
Many saw these clear condemnations of the U.S. government’s COVID-19 response as a stark departure from the science journals’ normal purview. The editorials come on the heels of Scientific American’s endorsement of Joe Biden—a first in its 175-year-history—so the idea of scientists taking a stand on politics is currently fresh in the public’s mind. But unlike the popular science magazine, Nature, Science, and NEJM are all known for publishing impactful original academic research, making it seem all the more surprising that they’d wade into political commentary. Publications like the Washington Post and Axios ran stories about NEJM’s editorial in particular; scientists on Twitter linked to all three, calling the science community’s chorus of editorials unprecedented.