Saturday, February 18, 2017

Did ProPublica Misrepresent Intelligent Design?

Little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer, one of the Discovery Institute talking heads had a bit of a whine today.  His post: "A Look Inside the Media Sausage Factory: Alternative Facts from ProPublica" continues a theme we discussed a few days back in "More 'Knee-Jerkiness' from the Discovery Institute, Emphasis on Jerkiness".  Apparently he's backing up Sarah Chaffee and her taking issue with ProPublica and one of their writers commenting on Intelligent Design (ID).

One of the reasons klingy complained about ProPublica was because it was mentioned on "Last Week on Tonight with John Oliver".  He doesn't seem to like Oliver saying that it did great investigative journalism:

" . . . donate to groups like ProPublica, a nonprofit group which does great investigative journalism."
If you aren't familiar with ProPublica, they are described as:
"ProPublica is a non-profit corporation based in New York City. It describes itself as an independent non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. In 2010 it became the first online news source to win a Pulitzer Prize," (Wikipedia: ProPublica)
Other than that, I was surprised that klingy bothered to reach out to ProPublica, His normal course of events is to simply whine, cry, blame, and point fingers . . . usually all from various DI websites.  While he did reach out, I'm not sure of his approach.  He emailed them with this, including links to what he thinks are the significant misrepresentations:
"Writing at Evolution News & Views, which I edit, my Discovery Institute colleague Sarah Chaffee has pointed out significant misrepresentations in your January 30 article for ProPublica. Do you plan to correct them?"
Rather than ask for their sources, he goes immediately on the offensive and in one line basically questions their journalistic integrity.  Now when you question the integrity of the DI, they tend to get up on their hind legs and ad-hominen the hell out of you.  ProPublica is much more reasonable, an editor from ProPublica responded:
"I have reviewed both Annie's article and the critique by your colleague. In my judgment, Annie's article is factually accurate, and therefore we do not plan to publish a correction." 
She had more to say, you can read it at klingy post, if you want.  She stated her reasoning and supported it well.  Please note the term 'factually accurate'.  So in other words, ProPulica's description of ID as just another form of Creationism and the DI's goal of teaching ID in school is factually accurate.  Don't ya just love facts?  The DI and klingy obviously don't.

Klingy went on a much longer diatribe, and she responded to that as well.  Her bottom line was no corrections are necessary because the author did her homework and Sarah, and klingy, failed to make their case of 'misrepresentation', klingy took exception and said:
"So there you have it: a source of "investigative journalism" called out on multiple instances of misinformation in a single article refuses to correct the record, brushing aside objections as no more than a difference in "opinion." But I thought the highly regarded news source is supposed to be a source of fact, not opinion? 
Placing 'investigative journalism' in quotes they way he did was a subtle jab, but one that falls way off the mark.  In the eyes of the DI, ProPublica's crime was simply compounded because they refuse toe a DI-defined line, a line that no one outside of DI and ID circles toes.  The DI doesn't like Judge Jones because he stuck with the actual law, not the DI's version of it.  They also don't like Wikipedia because they won't let the DI define ID as science.  They don't like . . . well you get the idea.  They don't like anyone who disagrees with them.  Maybe one day they will notice me and I get added to that august list (Bucket List item for me :-))!  He continued with:
I'll drop this now, because the parade of fake news about ID and the evolution debate never ends."
Don't you love how he drags in 'fake news' again and tries to associate ProPublica with being a fake news site, like InfoWars (Wikipeda: Fake News Sites).  I do have to notice that while klingy is trying to paint ProPublica as a fake news site, he had nothing to say about John Oliver's characterization of InfoWars as an fake news site.  The reason this surprises me is that in the past InfoWars had nice things to say about ID.  I would expect some sort of defense, unless klingy is afraid to get in bed with a site that thinks Sandy Hook was phony government propaganda and the child victims were all actors.

In any event, the main question here is did ProPublica misrepresent ID?  You know my answer, it's that they did not!  The DI needs to do something more than just whine and claim to have been misrepresented without being able to show how and why.

I did want to make one small point that I do plan on expanding in the future, klingy ends with:
"If you suspect axe-grinding, yeah, it's probably there."
Isn't this exactly what most people think when they read anything from the DI?  Little klingy showed the axe he was grinding, his anti-science and pro-religion axe.  Funny how they [the DI] always seems to use the precise tactic they accuse other people of using. ProPublica isn't grinding any axes, they are reporting facts -- like investigative journalist are supposed to do.  You can disagree with them, but that doesn't mean the fact are false.

ProPublica has proven itself over and over again to be focused on the public interest.  While we already said they were the first online reporting website to win a Pulitzer back in 2010.  They also won one for investigative reporting in 2011, and a third Pulitzer for explanatory reporting in 2016.  Their list of awards goes on for 7 webpages.

Can the DI claim the same motivation, public interest, as ProPublica?  I'm sure they will eventually try and make such a claim, but then their claims of 'critical thinking' has nothing to do with actual critical thinking and their claims of 'academic freedom' has nothing to do with actual academic freedom, so if they ever claim to be doing whatever they do for 'public interest', I thnk we would find that it has nothing to do with actual public interest.

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