The Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF) has denied press credentials for the TCT2018 meeting to a legitimate, fully accredited journalist. The meeting, which starts this weekend in San Diego, is the premiere interventional cardiology meeting.

Legitimate journalists are routinely granted access to cover medical and scientific meetings.

By any standard, Cat Ferguson is a respected and fully accredited journalist. Ferguson is currently an investigative journalist at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Ferguson initially applied to the CRF for press credentials back in July. She did not receive notification that her application had been denied until last Friday (September 14). Initially CRF provided no reason for the decision to deny access to Ferguson. Following a CardioBrief request for an explanation, Ferguson today received the following statement from a CRF press official:

“Credentials for the TCT meeting are granted on a case by case basis. Given limited capacity and resources, priority is given to medical and science reporters who regularly cover the field of interventional cardiovascular medicine.

Full guidelines can be found here: https://www.crf.org/tct/press/press-credentials-and-guidelines. If your request can be accommodated, we will let you know.”

In more than 30 years of covering medical meetings I can not remember a similar circumstance in which a legitimate journalist was denied a press pass with no explanation. It is additionally concerning that the decision was communicated to Ferguson less than a week before the start of the meeting.

CRF has not responded to my request for a comment.

Ferguson sent the following comment about the CRF decision:

“I was surprised and disappointed by CRF’s reaction to my request for a press pass. The research presented at TCT has tremendous news value, and the discussions between experts provide important context for that data. By denying a reporter access to TCT, the organizers are denying the public generally, and cardiac patients in particular, access to critical information about their medical options.”

Ferguson’s was previously a reporter for Retraction Watch. Ivan Oransky, a co-founder of the site, is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute and the President of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Oransky sent the following comment about the CRF action:

It’s quite outrageous for a medical society that typically offers press credentials to its meeting to deny those credentials to an obviously legitimate journalist. It’s even more outrageous for that society to deny said credentials without giving a reason. When the Trump administration denies reporters whose coverage doesn’t fit with its narrative access to its events, we raise a stink. We should raise one here too, and I hope that TCT sees the errors of its ways and grants Ferguson the same credentials any other journalist is offered.

Update, September 20:

Less than 24 hours after publication of this story Cat Ferguson received a message from a CRF press person informing her that her press access had been approved:

“We make every effort to ensure that the reporters to whom we grant access cover fields of medicine directly related to minimally invasive cardiovascular procedures. This is something we ask of all reporters and I apologize if there was any confusion. As part of CRF’s commitment to an open and free press, we will provide you with access to TCT 2018. A confirmation email will be sent shortly.”

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  1. What are they trying to hide?

    There’s a rather a cruel implication for all the journalists to whom they have issued a pass – we can rely on you not to indulge in critical thinking, and to stick to the party line.

  2. To the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, all I can say, like another particular vindictive, anti-science person we all know: Sad.
    The CRF only minimizes itself.

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