Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Discovery Institute Joins Right in Effort to Defund PBS, NPR

A special report by Cliff Kincaid on the right-wing Accuracy in Media website asserts that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and National Public Radio (NPR) are no longer needed in their present form. It is part of the effort by conservatives to control the news Americans hear by cutting funding for public broadcasting.

The report relies in part on complaints from the Discovery Institute about how PBS and NPR have reported on their effort to gut science education in public schools and replace it with the antiscience of intelligent design creationism.

Here's an excerpt from the report detailing Discovery's complaints:

On the December 17 NOW show, Moyers turned to another current topic—the ACLU's lawsuits against school districts that want to "teach an alternative to evolution." Anthony Romero of the ACLU told Moyers that "…teaching alternatives to evolution is about teaching religion in our public schools. And in a country as diverse as this one, and in a country where religious belief is such a core belief for so many Americans, you want to keep the government as far away as we can from involving itself in our most important and private institutions…"

Romero's statement was false. Teaching alternatives to evolution does not ecessarily imply the existence of God or the need for religion. Rather it recognizes the problems with a theory holding that random and natural processes cannot account for the origin and complexity of life.

The Discovery Institute, for example, focuses on the issue of whether there is any evidence of design in nature, rather than whether there is a designer. Still, its representatives tend to be portrayed in religious terms not only by the ACLU but by the media.

Those who believe in intelligent design or find gaping holes in the theory of evolution frequently encounter a hostile press. The Discovery Institute provided to Accuracy in Media a thick file of complaints about the way their representatives have been treated by the media, especially CPB-subsidized National Public Radio and PBS. (Emphasis added)

Back in 2001, when PBS aired the seven-part series, Evolution, financed by Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul G. Allen, it asked Discovery Institute scientists to appear on the last segment dealing with God and religion. It was a trick. The institute rejected this ploy, saying that its representatives had scientific objections to evolution and that they should be included in the scientific episodes.

PBS went ahead with its one-sided program anyway. In response, the Discovery Institute produced a 152-page viewers' guide, noting that the series distorts the scientific evidence, ignores scientific disagreements over Darwin's theory, and misrepresents the theory's critics.

On April 18, Accuracy in Media sent a detailed three-page letter to NPR's ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, about a pattern of bias in coverage of the evolution controversy. We received in response a one and one-half page letter that essentially glossed over all of our substantial criticisms.


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