Where the Bush administration found trouble, on the other hand, was in tampering with the first premise (i.e. the primary research) in areas such as climate change. Obama’s memorandum was designed to preclude such interference, but has, obviously, been taken to bear on the way his administration will deal with the second premise (i.e. decision-making).

It’s a critical that journalists sort out and explain such nuances. Doing so will lead to a better public understanding of where Obama is succeeding and failing with regard to science. The Christian Science Monitor and The Swamp, for instance, both pointed out that Obama has bucked scientists’ advice about acting more quickly on global warming and returning the western gray wolf to the endangered species list. And, as many outlets have already pointed out, there are still controversial decisions to be made about stem cells.

All said, it seems clear that Obama is trying to right by science in a way that his predecessor did not. But it is even clearer that, to succeed, the media must keep pressing him for more clarity about how science and values – combined – influence his decisions.

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.