PBS Evolution A Critical Review

Leaked PBS Memo Reveals Improper Political Agenda behind “Evolution” Series


To: National Circuit; Science, Education

Click Here for PBS Internal Memo

SEATTLE–An internal PBS memo made public today reveals an improper political agenda behind WGBH/Clear Blue Sky’s ongoing series “Evolution”, according to the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. The memo describes how “Evolution” will be used to influence government officials and promote political action in order to shape how evolution is taught in public schools.

Dated June 15, 2001, the memo bears the title “The Evolution Controversy, Use It or Lose It: Evolution Project/WGBH Boston.” The document outlines the overall goals of the ongoing PBS series Evolution and describes the marketing strategy for the series. The complete text of the PBS memo is posted at reviewevolution.com.

According to the document, which was leaked by a source within PBS, one of the goals of “Evolution” is to “co-opt existing local dialogue about teaching evolution in schools.” Another goal is to “promote participation,” including “getting involved with local school boards.”

In addition, the document identifies “government officials” as one of the target audiences for the series, and it describes a publicity campaign accompanying the series that will include writing op-eds for newspapers and “guerilla/viral marketing.”

“Clearly, one purpose of “Evolution” is to influence Congress and school boards and to promote political action regarding how evolution is taught in public schools,” says Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman. “In fact, “Evolution’s” marketing plan seems to have the trappings of a political campaign.”

“Public television is funded in part by American taxpayers, and it should be held to high standards of fairness. It is inappropriate for public broadcasting to engage in activities designed to directly influence the political process by promoting one viewpoint at the expense of others,” said Chapman.

According to Discovery Institute’s John West, the political agenda behind “Evolution” is made even more explicit by its enlistment of Eugenie Scott as one of the official spokespersons for the series.

Scott runs the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), an advocacy group that by its own description is dedicated to “defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools.” According to the group’s web site, the NCSE provides “expert testimony for school board hearings,” supplies citizens with “advice on how to organize” when “faced with local creationist challenges,” and assists legal organizations that litigate “evolution/creation cases.”

“The NCSE is a single-issue group that takes only one side in the political debate over evolution in public education,” says West, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University. “It is inappropriate for public television to enlist NCSE’s executive director as an official spokesperson for this program.”

Founded in 1990, Discovery Institute is a non profit, non partisan public policy center for science, technology, regional development, environment, and defense. More information about the Institute and its activities can be found at www.discovery.org.

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.