News Media in New Mexico to be applauded

Robert L. Crowther, II

Kudos are in order for the media covering PBS station KNME’s ill-advised decision this week to ban Unlocking the Mystery of Life from their airwaves.
First on Wednesday, Albuquerque’s ABC affiliate KOB aired a story that correctly reported this censorship of science. Their coverage was very good, although they did mistakenly identify Discovery’s Center for Science & Culture as the funder of the film, which is not true. The film was produced by Illustra Media and funded by a group of foundations and organizations. CSC Fellows were prominently featured in the film and CSC Director Steve Meyer worked closely with Illustra in the scripting of the film, but CSC did not fund the film. Still KOB’s coverage was balanced, and otherwise accurate.
Today, the Albuquerque Journal published a front page story (paid subscription required) by Rick Nathanson that was more accurate than many articles on intelligent design have been.
The paper reports KNME’s Joan Rebecchi as saying:

“The funders of this program have a clear and specific agenda they openly promote. …
KNME has no position regarding this agenda, but we must guard against the public perception that editorial control might have been exercised by the program funders.”

Lad Allen of Illustra Media spoke with KNME program manager Chad Davis and told him point blank that none of the funders had any input into the film, or any control over the content.
Rebecchi is later quoted as saying:

“‘KNME follows PBS production funding standards and practices,’ which are design to promote fairness, balance and impartiality, …”

How fair and balance has KNME, or PBS really been?

Indeed, PBS stations, including KNME, ran the Evolution series in 2001, which was solely funded and produced by billionaire Paul Allen’s Clear Blue Sky Productions. Now there is a clear instance of a funder controlling editorial content, and yet KNME didn’t squelch that film.
Josh Gilder wrote in his critique of the Evolution series:

“PBS has undertaken a massive new “educational” project to promote the “understanding of evolution.”
Apparently there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there, as tech billionaire Paul Allen has ponied up some $15 million for the project (PBS refuses to disclose exactly how much). … Much of Allen’s money is going into a national “outreach” program aimed at our public schools. Cadres of “special teachers” are being trained to prep school boards and biology teachers across the country on how to respond to skeptical students and parents. They will be aided by subsidized teaching materials, videos and a special interactive web site devoted to clearing up any “misunderstandings” the public might have.”

KNME was worried about the public perception of UMOL? What was the perception to have been about the Evolution series after the dogmatic Darwinists were unleashed to “prep school boards and biology teachers across the country”? It would be laughable if it wasn’t such a clear instance of censorship and message suppression.
Actually, it looks to me as if the station was concerned about fairness, balance and impartiality. They were concerned that a fair, balanced and impartial examination of intelligent design theory might be enlightening and educational to their viewers.
Dr. Rebecca Keller, an asst. research professor in UNM’s chemistry dept., and a member of IDNet-New Mexico, had this to say about UMOL in the Journal story:

“‘It challenges the idea that this sophisticated machinery and software could arise purely by the means of natural selection and random mutation, which is the core of Darwinian evolution.’ …It makes for good science to question a ‘dominant paradigm’ such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, she added.”

It was encouraging to see a newspaper seek out scientists to express their views on intelligent design. I hope that the Journal, and other papers, will look into PBS’ “impartiality” when it comes to the issue of how evolution is covered on the network.

Robert Crowther, II

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.