Thursday, May 04, 2006


Awbrey's Awful Performance

David Awbrey, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Education, drew withering criticism from board member Sue Gamble last night at the Kansas City Press Club's "Intelligent Design, Intelligent Media: Is Coverage Accurate?" forum at Johnson County Community College.

Gamble, who was in the audience, said she was disappointed by Awbrey's comments, accusing him of misrepresenting the facts and “inappropriate conduct” which, she said, “we’ll review at another time.”

“Awbrey,” said Gamble during the question and answer period, “is an extremely biased director of communications,"

Awbrey touted his experience as a journalist several times while speaking last night, but he certainly proved himself out of step with the other journalists on the panel: Dave Helling, a political reporter and long time anchor at KCTV-5 who now works for the Kansas City Star, Toby Cook, the WDAF-TV morning anchor, Ben Embry, a reporter for KCUR, the public radio station, and Derek Donovan, the Kansas City Star's reader representative.

Kansas State School Board Chair Steve Abrams was also on the panel. No representative of the pro-science board minority was invited to participate.

Starting with a talking point from Calvert’s ID Network, Awbrey charged that scientists are undemocratic because they refused to participate in the hearings cooked up between Abrams, Calvert, and the Discovery Institute last May in Topeka. “That,” said Awbrey, “is a dangerous attitude for science to have.”

Awbrey might be excused for failing to note that scientists participated prominently in all four public hearings held around the state last February because he hasn’t spent much time in Kansas lately.

As a man making much of his credentials as a former journalist, and making the case that coverage has been biased, Awbrey might have been well-advised to check his facts first, too.

Awbrey might also want to think about the long-term consequences of using his taxpayer funded position as KSDE spokesman to espouse highly partisan political positions on issues that divide the board – and the people of Kansas.

Perhaps most interesting of all, was Awbrey’s assertion that the Big Bang and the dinosaurs – just like religious faith -- are nothing but metaphysical speculation. “Did anyone see them happen?” he asked.

“A reporter’s job,” said the Star’s Dave Helling, “is to report the reality we see, gather facts, and report fairly.”

But Awbrey disagreed.

“Objectivity,” he said, “is a farce. This is a post-modern era. We’re all biased.”


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