Wednesday, November 21, 2007

PBS Embarrassment: Letters Overwhelmingly Pan NOVA Show For Bias

This from the PBS Ombudsman on letters to PBS about the NOVA show "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design":
[B]y about a three-to-one margin, the long compilation of letters from viewers that appears below were critical of the program, charging a one-sided treatment, a bias toward evolution colored by the producers, and that it was insulting to believers. Some of these are very powerful statements.

It looks like the extreme bias of the show backfired on the producers, turning off potentially sympathetic middle of the road viewers:
I recently viewed your Nova special "Judgment Day" and was quite intrigued but saddened by the whole thing. I expected the show to be biased toward evolution and was perfectly prepared and "OK" with that since I am always interested in the other side of the story. However, I was totally shocked by blatant misrepresentation of the arguments for Intelligent Design and character of the respected scientists who dare to challenge the prevailing presuppositions of science. I was particularly disturbed by your misrepresentation of the scientists at the Discovery Institute. Why did you fail to report that they do NOT support the teaching of ID in schools and that on several occasions they contacted the Dover school board to dissuade them from the actions they were considering (as reported in the Associated Press). Why did you refuse to let the DI interviewees make recordings of their interviews with PBS so they could have transcripts of the exchange for their records and use? In general, what were you so afraid of?

Leah Dillman, Antelope, OR

Well, you see, Leah, apparently many anti-ID journalists are not at all interested in the "other side of the story."

Here is another:
In the Q & A with the Executive Producer on the ID webpage, Mrs. Apsell said, "However, Michael Behe, Scott Minich, and other ID proponents affiliated with the Discovery Institute declined to be interviewed under the normal journalistic conditions that NOVA uses for all programs." What are those journalistic conditions? Is it abnormal to provide interview subjects with complete footage from the interview?

San Jose, CA

(Ombudsman's Note: This is a good point. In the film, the narrator also says that "NOVA made repeated requests to interview members of the Discovery Institute . . . but the Institute set conditions that were inconsistent with normal journalistic practises." The film should have taken a minute to explain those inconsistencies and practices.)

NOVA refused to allow Discovery Institute reps to record interviews, apparently because they wanted to be able to quote-mine the interviews to their hearts' content, and avoid being held accountable for that. Such requests are common and not "inconsistent with normal journalistic practices." More on this here.


At November 21, 2007 6:11 PM, Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

It's great to see the heavily critical reaction of the public to the program. (I sent them a couple of uncomplimentary e-mails also.)It seems that he educated public is increasingly well-informed about the matter, and hence unwilling to tolerate blatant Darwinist propaganda-blasts of the NOVA type.

At November 23, 2007 9:38 PM, Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

IMO the show should have concentrated on the legal issues instead of the scientific issues. Evolution can't be proven in a two-hour program, obviously. The show just presented some weak examples of how evolution might have occurred in specific instances.

Some Discovery Institute staffers opened themselves to criticism by rejecting requests for interviews. They should have participated and then complained later if they felt that their views were not adequately presented. By not participating, they assured that their views were not presented at all.


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