I received a heads up on Facebook regarding Monday morning's piece by Barbara Bradley Hagerty about THE HUGE SCHISM that has atheists ripping each other apart (not). The tip mentioned that Hagerty has been the recipient of a fellowship from the Templeton Foundation (a subject of controversy for being a conservative front organization with a religious devotion to the "free" market and openness to intelligent designers - see Wikipedia). On Hagerty's web site her bio states,
"She was one of 10 journalists selected for a Templeton-Cambridge fellowship in science and religion in 2005, where she and her colleagues spent weeks questioning world-class scientists and theologians at Cambridge University."The first thing I did was see if Hagerty's "work" had appeared on the NPR Check radar. Well, what do you know, she garnered NPR Check honors twice :
(In May of 2007) Hagerty gave a sympathetic report about the creation museum...seriously. Here is some of what Hagerty noted back then:
- "...the vast majority of scientists say dinosaurs predated man by 65 million years."
- "this is as much a Bible museum as an attempt at science. The museum tries to use scientific evidence to show that Genesis is true"
- "the creation museum argues that everyone works from the same material...they only differ in interpretation, but this interpretation is nothing if not controversial....one of the museum's founders says it's more than educational..."
No surprise then that Hagerty is back this morning trying to stoke anti-atheism by focusing on the most radical actions of atheists (e.g. desecrating communion wafers) and simply conflating it with the more uncompromising positions of popular atheist authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
The thing that really ticked me off, as an atheist, is that I think there is interesting material for discussion and debate about the more dogmatic approaches of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens versus a more accommodationist approach. But Hagerty's piece does little justice to this terrain - and her sneering contempt for atheists that runs throughout her feature becomes especially evident when expected interviews fall through at the Center for Inquiry Office in Washington, D.C., and she says
"Now, he could speak his mind, since he's a volunteer. But interviews with others associated with the Washington office were canceled shortly before we arrived — curious for a group that promotes free speech."Maybe the folks there did a little background check on Hagerty and decided to avoid the hatchet job that her past sympathies indicated was in the works.
Update I: This post by P.Z. Meyers - whom Hagerty interviewed in the story - describes the distortions and dishonesty of the piece. Looks like the folks at the Center for Inquiry were right!
Update II: If unethical journalism was a crime, Ms. Hagerty would have quite a rap sheet:
- March 2004 - Atrios on Hagerty's ties to the "unapologetic Christian point of view" World Journalism Institute.
- May 2004 - Better Angels points out Hagerty's long list of documented mideeds and ties to rightwing Christian organizations.
- May 2004 - About.com's Austin Cline outs Ms. Hagerty's lousy, dishonest reporting.
- May 2005 - Media Matters takes the witness stand.