Monday, March 02, 2015

Channel 13 Gets Suckered

Have the religious fundamentalists got an in with the KRQE NEWS dept?  One might think so after the story on a cancellation of a Charles Darwin historical series at the NM Museum of Natural History.  Except there wasn't any thing scheduled.  I asked for some illumination on this issue from a person in the know, and this is what he sent to me.  A couple of 'Intelligent Design' engineers who believe in the power of fairy dust conned the station into running this item.

This whole thing was driven by News 13 being conned into running the "story" by the local "Intelligent Design" (ID) crowd. Briefly, the museum had a Darwin Day event in 2014 (OVER A YEAR AGO). There was a brief error of attribution of an New Mexico Science and Reason event as co-sponsored by the museum in a flyer, but this was corrected LAST YEAR, BEFORE the event even took place. The museum tried to explain things to the ID folk (this is the Feb. 7, 2014 letter shown on News 13), but by that time the ID people were committed to pushing the false claim that "the museum is sponsoring anti-religion talks, so it should sponsor ID talks too." They made a huge stink about it last year, but then, the local news people knew better than to run a non-story. Cut to this year, the museum has a new director, and there wasn't any effort to do another big Darwin Day like the one of 2014. The group didn't even do Darwin Day this year.

Here's what the ID people really want: to have the museum sponsor their pseudoscience. That's why they are saying the museum "cancelled" Darwin Day. But it's not an annual event. We did have a few Darwin Days before, during, and after 2009 (bicentennial of Origin of Species), but our Feb 2010 NMSR meeting was about patent law. Why didn't News 13 run a story on why we "cancelled" Darwin Day in 2010? Our Feb. 2011 meeting was on early American anthropology. Where was the outrage then? Our Feb. 2012 meeting was on science for the public (w/ Sandra Blakeslee of the NYT). Where were the protests that year? In 2013 we did Lake Monsters. Again, no ID protests, no News 13 "Story."

If you want to complain, please don't bother the museum. Tell that News 13 sorry excuse for a reporter, Tina Jensen, and the anchor Dean Staley, that they were CONNED into running a non-story that makes it look like the ID folks are being "discriminated against." THAT is the story here.(IMHO)

And in fairness, the Governor's Office was apparently not responsible for their being no Darwin Day. But they do believe fairy dust will ultimately fix New Mexico's economy.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Jim - wondered what happened when the story suddenly disappeared down the memory hole.

Anonymous said...

How embarrassing! What are the chances that KRQE will run another story? Or a retraction?

Anonymous said...

Today’s Journal has an article under the somewhat ambiguous title, “Museum plunged into evolution debate,” that starts out with Mary Ann Hatchitt, of Cultural Affairs, saying that nothing was planned this year, as your source indicates, and it was never conceived as an annual event. However, the rest of the article is given over to the ID people, who claim that they have emails that prove otherwise, and others who, in calling the museum dishonorable and cowardly, help to bolster the ID people in their venture. The rest if the article is filler, with no real news. Well, Jim, the story has grown legs, but where is it going? The remaining questions are: Where are these emails, and why haven’t they been published? Why, if the museum had nothing planned, did they (or Cultural Affairs) not come out with this information immediately? And, does the museum have any documentation that supports their claim and refutes those of the ID folks and their emails? We know the Journal’s bias, so why are they bashing the museum (I’m sure they would claim their report is balanced, but that’s debatable), a state institution under Susanna’s watch? (Intelligent Design trumps the political alliance?) I suspect we already know why KRQE can’t do a professional job of research and reportage, so that’s not even worth a question. With volleys on both sides now, perhaps the Journal is setting up yet another story. What is really needed is a good reporter who can gather all the documentation and bring some clarity to this.

MKJ said...

Apparently the museum was thinking about making Darwin Day an annual event, according the KRQE reporter, who is really pretty sorry when it comes to vetting a story. But the museum decided not to do so after what was really an error in a flyer printed by NMSR, which is NOT an atheist group, as is implied, claiming at least one retired clergy member. That is what the "intelligent design" people suckered channel 13 into believing that NMSR is an atheist group (as opposed to the Freedom From Religion group who were on the flyer accidentally associated with the museum, though they they didn't give an anti religious talk). So, the museum , along with the state decided to just not hold anymore Darwin days. They decided that LAST YEAR. The 2015 schedule never showed a Darwin Day event on it, and these fringe ID people did just what Jim said - suckered channel 13, and of course, the Journal couldn't be left out of such a scandalous affair! And the ID people are not even science based. They derive from religion, though they claim to be science based. My analagy is that the museum holds a Galileo Day. Along come members of the Flat Earth Society (yes - it exists) claiming to have scientific proof the earth is flat and raising a stink as to why they weren't included in the Galileo Day event. Eventually they complain to a news outlet, and they find a really not-too-smart reporter or news director who is suckered in. The news people, especially the reporter won't even listen to some backgrounding on these ID people. Summary - very, very bad reporting. They owe all concerned an apology. I'm holding my breath for that to happen.