Monday, October 19, 2009

Barbara Bradley Hagerty - God Help Us

(Update I & II below)
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 of the museum's founders says it's more than educational..."
(In February of 2009) A even more dishonest piece of Hagerty's journalism was on display as she put a positive spin on the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and its organizer, Doug Phillips. Hagerty completely ignored the Christian dominionist Vision Forum that backed the festival.

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:


Anonymous said...

The museum tries to use scientific evidence to show that Genesis is true"

You are right to flag this, MTW.

In reality, the museum tries to use the perception of science to fool the public into thinking they are actually using science.

The realize that if they represent it for what it actually is, they will never get it back into the schools.

So, they dress the clown up in a scientist's lab coat.

But the clown is still a clown.

Much as NPR is still basically Fox when they dress up their interviewees as "Experts".

Actually, in one critical regard, creationists are very much like NPR.

They use the balance meme as an excuse to propagate BS.

WarOnWarOff said...

desecrating communion wafers

You're supposed to EAT JESUS, not play with him.

Anonymous said...

It's actually kind of humorous.

The "Holier than Thou' attitude shown by Hagerty permeates almost everything produced by NPR, no matter what the subject.

They have all the answers and are doing us (the ignorant masses) a favor by enlightening us. They probably even beleive they are getting us into Heaven! (though in my case, even NPR's direct line to God -- the God phone, as it were (ie, the think tank wankers at AEI) probably won't help.

Anonymous said...

You're supposed to EAT JESUS, not play with him.

Are you making fun of cannibalism?

larry, dfh said...

Hackerdy is integrity-challenged. But the problem with anyone from a totally belief-based perspective is that they will lie and coerce because they believe they are devinely correct. So hackerdy has no qualms about misrepresentation or other false behaviors.
I remember a piece where she presented herself as 'little bo peep' interviewing 'the average catholic' on the street. In actuality it was the average white highly involved-with-the-church catholic, presented as the norm (as, in fact, pointed out by MtW). But as anyone knows, the average white catholic has long since lapsed (the Quaker meetings are full of them), and the average catholic is becoming browner and browner, and the average mass is more and more likely to be in Spanish.

Unknown said...

"she and her colleagues spent weeks questioning world-class scientists and theologians at Cambridge University"

World-class theologians?! Take as many weeks as you like, they're never going to say one intelligent thing. It's their job not to say intelligent things. That's what they're paid for. If you don't understand that, you shouldn't be on the radio.

geoff said...

Catholic Parishoners Weigh in on War is a story from 5/25/04 where we are reminded by Inskeep that this is not a scientific poll (phew, gosh, I wouldn't have known if he hadn't said so) but that, well, words to the effect that "the lord works in mysterious ways and wants peace so if we just put our faith in the lord, well then, that's the best we can do" and that we can register our dissatisfaction with abortion by voting for Bush as a protest against it. They flew Inskeep all the way to the Three Holy Women Parish in Milwaukee (I defy you to find the word "war" on their web site, outside of it being a sub-string of "steward") for these bits of Catholic wisdom re how we are all capable of being torturers (there, but for the grace of god, etc) how the Pope has (albeit, timidly) registered opposition to the war, (more opposition to abortion, as I recall) and so what's Catholic to do but pray for peace (and vote for war.)

bigger!pinker!fuzzier!bunnier! said...

Just like my buddy once quipped:

Now Preaching Religion

Anonymous said...

I love the passive-aggressiveness of her comment that atheists not speaking to her is them being against freedom of speech -- a sign that as a journalist she knows nothing about her own profession's ethical touchstones.

Anonymous said...

Barbara Hagerty

"When you or I as Christ-followers go to work each day, we have to perform our jobs in a fundamentally different way from other people because our employer is Christ, and everything we do has to be run through the filter of this question: How does Jesus Christ view my performance? It raises the bar higher than the most demanding editor or supervisor could possibly do."

So, then, what's Hagerty's excuse?

Why does she behave so unethically?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Faith (NPR's program of religion, faith, ethics heh-heh) does in one hour what Marx needed pages to deduce: Religion is the opiate of the masses.

I have repeatedly asked this program to discuss torture but . . .

Hell will freeze over before that happens!


Anonymous said...

"I have repeatedly asked this program to discuss torture but . . .

Hell will freeze over before that happens!"

Either that or both Vivian Schiller AND Alicia Shepard will be fired before NPR ever even USES the word "torture" (to say nothing of discusses it)

But Shepard will never be fired as long as Schiller is CEO (it's the BFF thing, you know) and Schiller will never be fired as long as the Pentagon is calling the shots (the PFF thing)

Me, I'm betting hell will freeze over first.

Anonymous said...

Barbara Bradley Hagerty is simply a fraud. She has no integrity and has little ability to discern truth from fiction, idiocy from hype from reality. I have written about her on my blog several times:
Her nonsense about Dr. Persinger, epilepsy and religious experience is enough that NPR should have ditched her just for that.

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