Saturday, November 12, 2005


NPR on Sternberg

The Discovery Institute is touting an NPR report by Barbara Bradley Haggerty on "Intelligent Design and Academic Freedom."
Finally a mainstream media organization--and would you believe it is NPR? -- is covering the glaring cases of viewpoint discrimination on America's campuses, and even at the Smithsonian Institution.

Haggerty's report focuses on the case of Richard Sternberg, the disgraced staff scientist at the National Institutes of Health who slipped an article by Stephen Meyer, of the Discovery Institute, into a peer-reviewed journal he edited without adequately warning the journal's board of what he was doing.

His actions were subsequently repudiated by the board. He no longer edits the journal in question.

RSR has read Haggerty's report and finds nothing more objectionable than the usual he-said-she-said sort journalism that has elevated a group of fringe kooks into some sort of scientific controversy -- one of the tactics employed by social conservatives to undermine science that's been documented by Chris Mooney's "The Republican War on Science."

Indefatigable RSR reader BF has pointed us to an article "Outing Barbara Bradley Hagerty" that indicates the Haggerty's NPR report may not be quite as "mainstream" as Discovery claims. It also raises questions about editorial oversight at NPR.
Her religion reporting for NPR has focused mainly on Christianity, including a report on the Christian Science Church, in which she did not disclose that she was herself a former member of the Church. ...More troubling still is her association with Howard Ahmanson's Fieldstead and Co. and Fieldstead Foundation. Ahmanson is a California millionaire who uses his trust fund to finance right-wing Christian, anti-gay, anti-evolution groups and politicians. He was previously associated with Christian Reconstructionism, which advocates a Biblically-based government for the U.S. ... Hagerty has spoken twice at the Summer Institute of Journalism, a program run by the Council for Christian Colleges and University and funded by the Fieldstead Foundation. ... Hagerty's keynote address to the 2003 National Student Media Convention was also sponsored by Fieldstead and Co.

RSR readers may want to contact the NPR ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin about the issue of undisclosed bias in Haggerty's report and the seeming lack of editorial oversight -- which reminds us in some ways of how the New York Times got into trouble with Judith Miller. You can call Dvorkin, the NPR Ombudsman, at 202-513-3245 or e-mail him from this NPR web page.


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