Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Daily Show Scores Again, Exposing Laughable "Journalism" From CNN

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart once again hit the nail on the head, simultaneously showing how easily conservative "facts" are given equal billing by the mainstream media, while exposing CNN anchors Kyra Phillips and Carole Lin as nothing more than pretty faces, seemingly incapable of moderating a topical debate.

An April 26 segment narrated by host Jon Stewart, "Gaywatch," centered on a Texas law passed this month that bars same-sex couples from adopting foster children.

Here is an unofficial transcript:

STEWART: The state House of Representatives in Texas recently passed a bill forbidding gay people from adopting foster children. The measure was drafted by State Rep. Robert Talton.

TALTON: We do not believe that homosexuals or bisexuals, uh, should be raising our children.

STEWART: Yeah, he's right. You know, those foster children ought to be raised by their biological abusive or otherwise unfit birth parents. You now, the reason they were taken away from them in the first place.

Of course, since homosexuals are sneaky about their lifestyle, the law also allows state officials to investigate whether suspect foster parents are telling the truth about their sexual orientation.

(BOOING FROM STUDIO AUDIENCE)

Yeah, you know what's interesting? I'm not (expletive) making this up?

This would be done through a series of trick questions on the screening applications, such as:

GRAPHIC: 32. At first I was afraid, I was ________. A) Petrified B) Don't know.

As one supporter of the bill told CNN, this law is based in science.

CATHY ADAMS (Texas Eagle Forum): We also have got to look at research that does show that children in same-sex coupled homes are eleven times more likely to be abused sexually. And I think that that is not an issue that can be ignored. It is a proven fact, and that was a research study done in the state of Illinois.

STEWART: Wow. Hard to argue with that. You know, uh, but Kyra Phillips of CNN still gave opponent Randall Ellis a chance to respond.

ELLIS (Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby): Well, I certainly haven't seen that research. I've certainly never heard anything like that. No child health care professional that I have ever spoken to, no one who has access to any of the credible research being done on these issues, has ever mentioned anything close to that.

STEWART: Actually, you know he's right. The study that she mentioned is based on teh work of one knucklehead who did a Nexis search on the Internet to compile a scientific research (sic). It's a specious claim, and no doubt Kyra Phillips will cut through the spin and point out the facts.

PHILLIPS: It's an interesting debate. A good debate. Thank you both very much.

STEWART: Really? Good debate? Cause it kind of seemed like the one woman was lying, kind of. Kind of making (expletive) up, you now what I'm saying? Co-anchor Carole Lin, you going to let her get away with that?

LIN: I have some opinions about that story. You and I are going to share them during the commercial break.

PHILLIPS: We'll be talking about it, that's for sure.

STEWART: Why don't you call them on their (expletive) on the air? You're an anchor, for (expletive) sake!

***

Now, before any conservatives think that I take Jon Stewart's word for granted, I did some research -- the same sort of research that CNN should have done before Phillips began conducting her point/counterpoint.

Sure enough, a simple Google search will find the "study," conducted by Dr. Paul Cameron, chairman of the Colorado-based Family Research Institute, which appeared in the March issue of Psychological Reports. And regardless of your feelings on same-sex couples adopting foster children, you may want to know who Dr. Paul Cameron is, and how his "study" came to appear in Psychological Reports. (Again, these questions were easy to research on the Internet).

-- Paul Cameron was dropped from membership of the American Psychological Association in 1983. In 1985, the American Sociological Association adopted a resolution which asserted that "Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism."

Cameron has been peddling claims about homosexuals and molestation for two decades. Dr. Gregory M. Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, has written extensively about Cameron's dubious "research."

HEREK: Cameron's claims hinge on the incorrect assumption that all male-male molestations are committed by homosexuals. Moreover, a careful reading of Cameron's paper reveals several false statements about the literature he claimed to have reviewed.

For example, he cited the Groth and Birnbaum (1978) study mentioned previously as evidencing a 3:2 ratio of "heterosexual" (i.e., female victim) to "homosexual" (i.e., male victim) molestations, and he noted that "54% of all the molestations in this study were performed by bisexual or homosexual practitioners" (p. 1231). However, Groth and Birnbaum reported that none of the men in their sample had an exclusively homosexual adult sexual orientation, and that none of the 22 bisexual men were more attracted to adult males than to adult females. The "54%" statistic reported by Cameron doesn't appear anywhere in the Groth and Birnbaum (1978) article, nor does Cameron explain its derivation.

It also is noteworthy that, although Cameron assumed that the perpetrators of male-male molestations were all homosexual, he assumed that not all male-female molestations were committed by heterosexuals. He incorporated a "bisexual correction" into his data manipulations to increase further his estimate of the risk posed to children by homosexual/bisexual men.

***

In the case of the Illinois "study," Cameron claimed that 34% of molestations of Illinois foster children were done by homosexuals, vs. 3% by heterosexuals.

Cameron apparently used a Freedom of Information Act request of state records to assist his research, but how that led him to make his claims is unclear. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Family Services said the agency does not track the sexual orientation of prospective foster or adoptive parents. Instead, it tracks whether prospective parents are married or single.

***

But if Cameron's claims are so dubious, why would Psychological Reports print them?

Turns out, Psychological Reports is one of two "vanity publications" produced by Ammons Scientific Journals. Like a vanity book publisher, Ammons will publish just about any work, if the author is willing to pay -- in this case, a reported $27.50 per printed page.

***

So a dubious "study" about homosexuality and molestation is printed in March in a vanity publication, and after the Texas law is passed, CNN hosts a point/counterpoint on the topic.

Did CNN really think that the study would go unmentioned?

And even after realizing she was woefully unprepared, wouldn't it be Phillips' responsiblity to react to Ellis' charge that the cited study was not "credible," and ask a follow-up question? Doesn't CNN have a responsbility to viewers to sort out the facts? Or should viewers assume that pretty faces like Philips and Lin -- anchors on a major news network -- lack a fundamental understanding of how to be journalists?

***

A few weeks back, this site and others wrote extensively about how conservatives were able to introduce an "alternate universe" of facts on the Terri Schiavo tragedy. But those dubious claims were generally made on conservative shows, such as MSNBC's Scarborough Country and Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.

Maybe you can expect such "facts" to be presented on such partisan shows. But CNN -- often lambasted by conservatives as the "Clinton News Network" -- shouldn't so readily accept conservative spin.

The shame of it is that The Daily Show has become the most significant player to showcase how inept the mainstream media has become in preventing the "alternate universe of facts" from pervading the news.

4 Comments:

Blogger John said...

When some of the best journalism is being done by a comedy show, you know we have real trouble in our news departments.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any Yahoo can make up a research report, post it on the web, and have it picked up by yahoo journalists and yahoo commentators scraping around for info to support their yahoo, slanted lying viewpoints.
When TRUE journalist fail to expose these frauds and relegate that task to comedians, we are truely all in trouble.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, David, for further investigating this. I watched the Daily Show, too, and when Jon Stewart said "some knucklehead," I thought he was just poking fun.

I did a search of Paul Cameron to see how much ink this story got, and sure enough, every conservative blog out there (freerepblic, americablog, etc.) seems to have posted the same thing -- I'm assuming it was some sort of press release?

The mainstream press ignored Cameron's study, which makes sense. The only downside is that it gives the conservatives the right to say (like on Rush Limbaugh) that the "liberal media" isn't being fair.

It might have been better if one of the liberal columnists, or maybe some liberal publication like The Nation, were to go on the record as to how Cameron can write a junk science paper, pay to get it paid, and then let the conservatives blast it as if it were legit.

Until people realize how this system works, they will continue to be bamboozled by it.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Bob VB said...

If you would like to see Paul Cameron on a Samatha Bee 'The Daily Show' special report about gay animals click here. She even gets him to speculate about just how gay is Garfield the Cat. ;)

2:54 AM  

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