Finding Balance Where None Exists

I’m a big fan of the CBS News program Sunday Morning. Usually it’s an island of intelligence and class in the sea of screaming head that passes for broadcast news.

But not this morning.

The feature story was a very poor report by Rita Braver on the ongoing attempt to shovel religion into the classroom under the guise of the pseudo-science called "intelligent" design. One more example of a reporter trying to present a balanced report when the two sides are far from equal.

To start, Braver continually misused the concept of a theory (ID is an hypothesis at best). It goes down from there as she spends two chunks of time offering legitimacy to the creator of something called the Creation Museum.

"You basically say in this museum that dinosaurs and human beings existed at the same time?" Braver asks.

"Oh, absolutely," Ham answers, "because, you know, the Bible teaches that God made land animals on day six, alongside of Adam and Eve."

Tell me again that "intelligent design" is not based on religion.

However, the biggest problem with the piece is that Braver never asks the "intelligent" design supporters any real questions about their scientific evidence, which is non-existent, of course.

And then she goes on to make statements like "A small but growing number of scientists now challenge some of the fundamental tenets of Darwinism." – a phrase straight from the ID playbook – without offering any details.

I recently ran across a talk by Sam Donaldson on CSPAN in which he made some very relevant comments about reporters being "fair and balanced". He said that journalists should not attempt to be balanced in their reporting because there are few issues in which the two sides have equal weight.

Reporters, he said, should certainly report all sides of an issue but they are also obligated to inform their readers/viewers of the relative weight carried by each argument.

It’s too bad Braver and others reporting on ID don’t understand that.

intelligent design, evolution, science education