Washington Post reporter Peter Slevin seems to have become the new press secretary for the pro-Darwin National Center for Science Education (NCSE). But he apparently hasn’t informed his editors at the Post, who are continuing to publish his stories. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to after reading Slevin’s histrionic piece in yesterday’s Post. While many local reporters in Kansas have been working overtime to accurately and fairly cover both sides of the evolution controversy, Slevin has weighed in with a piece that reads from the first sentence like one of the NCSE’s fundraising letters:
Alarmed by proposals to change how evolution is taught, scientists and teachers are mobilizing to fight back, asserting that educational standards are being threatened by what they consider a stealth campaign to return creationism to public schools.
It goes downhill from there. Perhaps the most over-the-top part of the article is Slevin’s hilarious attempt to argue that evolution’s critics are better funded than the poor Darwinists. As an example, he cites the million dollar-plus budget of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and compares it to the $700,000 budget of the National Center for Science Education. Slevin neglects to mention that the vast majority of the Center for Science and Culture’s budget (roughly 85%) goes to support research and scholarship, not science education policy efforts. On the other hand, virtually all of the NCSE’s budget goes to support public policy efforts. Even more importantly, Slevin seems oblivious to the larger picture. The budget of Discovery Institute is infinitesimal compared to the budgets of the leading public evangelists of evolution. The American Association for the Advancement of Science alone has annual revenue of more than $80 million. Anyone who seriously believes that the critics of evolutionary theory are better-funded than Darwinists is living in another world.
As for “balance,” don’t expect to find any in Slevin’s story. Although the article is 1396 words long, virtually all of it is devoted to the views of those championing a Darwin-only approach to science education. To be precise, 711 words ( fully 50% of the article) are devoted to expounding the views of Darwin’s defenders. Only about 129 words (or 9%) of the article can be described as providing the views of Darwin’s critics, and even that figure is generous since some of Slevin’s descriptions of the critics of Darwin are far from impartial.
When I met Slevin in January, I found him personable and hoped that he would be fair despite his obvious agenda. After his first article came out, I knew that my hope was illusory. But Slevin’s latest piece veers over the line from slanted reporting into propaganda.
The news section of the Post was once the pride of the journalism profession. I realize many liberals are angry and bitter right now because the rest of the nation doesn’t seem to be following them in lock-step. Still, you would think it would be embarrassing for Slevin’s editors to publish such hack-reporting, especially when many other media outlets—like Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, the Associated Press, and even National Geographic—have been doing a much better job.