Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Letter to ABC News about "The Search For Jesus"

Dear Mr. Westin [Note: David Westin, President, ABC News],

I was appalled by the recent TV "news" program The Search For Jesus. It was some of the most irresponsible journalism I have ever seen in my life. I was a journalism major in college and any amateur can tell you that a responsible journalist gets all sides of a story. Instead, Peter Jennings highlighted three leaders of the Jesus Seminar, as well as other liberal scholars, and presented them as if they were the majority consensus opinion. The Jesus Seminar is hardly representative of serious scholarship. One person, and only one, came forward with a conservative view, and he was given less airtime than anyone else. I also came away with the feeling that he was included almost as an afterthought, as if the producers said, "Well, we have to include one conservative in the program."

This was indeed a sad day for journalism. Peter Jennings said things such as "Scholars say..." instead of "Some scholars say..." and then gave some liberal interpretation of the text, leaving viewers with the clear impression that nobody really believes the account of Jesus in the Bible anymore. What was Peter Jennings trying to do here, serious journalism, or presenting only one, very biased point of view? From what I could see, he had no intention of getting both sides of the story. And that takes The Search For Jesus out of the realm of journalism, for no serious journalist gets only one side of a story and then presents it as the only side.

ABC did such a wonderful job with The Miracle Maker this past Easter. What happened?

Victoria Shephard