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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

PBS Shame: Hatchet Job - NOVA's Dishonest Assault On ID

Martin Cothran had this to say about the PBS NOVA show "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design":
Important distinctions were repeatedly glossed over in the course of the clumsy mischaracterizations. In a sort of scientistic mantra the narrator kept repeating that Intelligent Design was just another version of creationism, despite the fact that its most famous adherent, Michael Behe, does not dispute common descent--nor do some other proponents of ID.

In fact, there was not a single accurate explanation of Intelligent Design in the course of the entire program.

But the most blatant evidence of the lack of balance in the program was when it went into a long and involved presentation of the Darwinist position uninterrupted by any refutation from anyone on the Intelligent Design side, while every assertion of Intelligent Design was accompanied by a swift refutation from an advocate of Darwinism.

. . . .

If the advocates of Darwinism cannot be trusted to follow the canons of journalistic integrity, then how can we trust them to follow the canons of scientific integrity? If, when we can catch them at it, we find distortions, half-truths, and outright fallacies, what are we to believe about them when we can't catch them? If they lie when they speak about what can be publicly known, how do we know they are telling the truth about what they have found in the privacy of their laboratories?