Expelled Encounters Liberal Media Hostility

Ben Stein's movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed won't open in theaters for another two weeks, but it is already generating Internet and media buzz, due largely to an atheist professor's “outrage” that he was denied access to a private screening of the movie. 

The liberal media, which generally favor atheists over religious believers as CMI documented in a recent special report, have done a tremendous job of telling atheist biology professor P.Z. Myers' side of the story.  Not so much for the film's producers.

CMI contacted Mark Mathis, one of the producers of Expelled, to find out what happened at the Minneapolis screening.  Mathis said that “for months he (Myers) has been viciously attacking me” and so Mathis decided that if Myers wanted to see the movie he could pay for it himself when it was publicly released.  “He was denied entry to a screening he wasn't invited to,” Mathis told CMI. 

ABC News science reporter Ned Potter, on his blog at ABCNews.com, didn't bother to interview Mathis (click HERE and HERE) in his reporting of the screening, though he did link to a press release from the movie's producers and selectively quoted from it.  In the two articles he has posted, Potter has linked to Myers' Pharyngula blog no fewer than five times, in effect supporting Myers' side of the story.  (Pharyngula's tag line: “Evolution, development and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal”)

Potter ended his March 26 blog post with, “Whatever you think of Stein's (referring to Ben Stein, the star and writer of Expelled) people and their efforts, there they are in their own words.”

The line is interesting because that is what Mathis told CMI about Myers and fellow atheist/scientist Richard Dawkins, who agreed to be interviewed for the movie. Mathis said the fuss that Myers has made about the movie is “a head scratcher” because he “wasn't misrepresented in the film.  What he says in the movie is the same thing he states on his blog.”  Mathis also told CMI that Myers saw in advance the questions he was going to be asked, was paid for his time and signed a release that allowed the film's producers to use his image in the film.

And while Dawkins crowed in the Times article about the “hoopla” surrounding the movie being a gift for “those who oppose creationism,” Mathis said the controversy has been wonderful publicity for the movie. According to an article appearing March 31 on the Christianity Today Web site, Expelled was “the most blogged about topic on the Web” last week.

The liberal media coverage of Myers' exclusion from the private screening of the movie has also toed the pro-atheism line.  New York Times reporter Cornelia Dean led the charge with a March 21 article, “No Admission for Evolutionary Biologist at Creationist Film.”  Labeling the film “creationist” in the headline is a sure signal to the Times' liberal readers that the film, its producers and point of view should be summarily dismissed.

In the 16-paragraph article, only four graphs were given to the movie producers' side of the story and those were sandwiched between pro-Darwinist copy.  Dean ended the article with this:

Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, a group that opposes the teaching of creationist ideas in public school classrooms, said in an interview that her organization was setting up a Web site to counter the arguments made in the film.

Dr. Scott said she and other supporters of the teaching of evolution have been having “a horselaugh” over the events as Dr. Myers recounted them, immediately, on his blog, Pharyngula.

She said it was “just tacky” that the producers barred Dr. Myers from the screening, but added, “I don't think it's inappropriate for us to have a good laugh at the creationists' expense.”

Dr. Dawkins said the hoopla has been “a gift” to those who oppose creationism. “We could not ask for anything better,” he said.

While Myers was excluded from the Expelled screening just 10 days ago, The New York Times first started reporting the atheistic point of view toward the movie on September 27, 2007 in an article titled, “Scientists Feel Miscast in Film on Life's Origin.” 

In the article, Dean recounts the scientists' claims of being duped because the film was initially titled Crossroads and was described as an “intersection of science and religion.”  Expelled is, in fact, an examination of the intersection of science and religion; it just doesn't play out the way the atheist-scientists expected it to.

Expelled opens in theaters April 18.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.