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NPR’s Deaf Ombudsman

It is a shame that NPR’s “ombudsman”, Jeffrey Dvorkin, apparently has a hearing problem. He doesn’t seem able to listen to his own network very carefully.

For years, on program after program NPR has reported on intelligent design in a biased and even malign manner. We have complained to Dvorkin. He doesn’t ever bother to answer.

Ira Flatow on Science Friday does not allow ID scientists on his program, only critics of ID. If he does allow a proponent of ID, it is not a scientist, and in those cases the one ID proponent is set upon by a stacked panel of several Darwinists. Flatow himself is an uberlutionist, one of the most vocal adversaries of ID who in public speeches urges university presidents to publicly come out against ID.

One NPR program, Open Source, earlier this year carried a program on ID that featured an ID opponent, Ken Miller of Brown University. Miller was the shows lone “expert” on the topic. When we complained, we were told they “didn’t really want a debate” and might have a proponent on sometime in the future. The future never came, of course.

On another program, On Point, a debate actually was set up between George Gilder of Discovery Institute and Richard Dawkins, Oxford. At literally minutes before air time, as he undoubtedly had planned (Dawkins always refuses to debate ID since he lost a debate with David Berlinski some years ago), Dawkins advised the producer that he would not debate, but would consent to speak solo, and only after Gilder was through, not before. This arrogant demand was not denounced by the producer; far from it. The terms were readily accepted, with equanimity, by the program producer, who on the air even obligingly explained Dawkins conniving stunt in a manner flattering to Dawkins (he said Dawkins didn’t want to lend legitimacy to the ID position by debating it — a position, if sincere, Dawkins easily could have explained much earlier). After Gilder spoke, Dawkins ignored him. And then the program’s supposedly “objective” wrap up was provided by a third participant, the highly opinionated Darwinist, Michael Ruse. All of this propaganda was treated as just another day at NPR.

So NPR, with some notable exceptions, doesn’t report on ID fairly at all. For openers, it usually does not provide ID proponents’ definition of their own theory, but uses the definition of ID offered by ID OPPONENTS. Dvorkin does the same thing himself. So, of course, he isn’t able to discern the bias in his colleagues, because he incorporates it.

In short, the NPR “ombudsman” is a flak-catcher, pure and simple. He is there to defend NPR against criticism, not to investigate it. A good reporter at NPR is good despite the network culture, not because of it.

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.