Is a TV show excused from sticking to the truth if it isn’t branded “news”? In at least one instance, CBS says yes.
In February, the network broadcast a two-hour special that, among other things, seemed to clinch the existence of Noah’s ark.
In particular, “The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark” included an account by a man named George Jammal, who claimed to have seen the ark with his own eyes — and brought back what he said was a chunk of it as proof.
But the story was a fabrication, according to the man who said he helped Jammal concoct it. The “relic” was just a piece of wood.
Many scholars cried foul after the special was telecast.
CBS “acted irresponsibly in airing a so-called documentary that was actually a propaganda vehicle for ‘creationists’ opposed to the theory of evolution,” charged the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, an organization of scientists, biblical scholars and other specialists. The organization called the special “riddled with biased statements and errors of fact.”
But in a brief statement Monday after a Time magazine article labeled the network a “victim to a hoaxer,” CBS spokeswoman Beth Comstock said only that the program “was an entertainment special, not a news documentary. We certainly were not aware of any alleged hoax.”
Gerald Larue, a professor emeritus of biblical history and archaeology at the USC, said he helped Jammal, a sometimes actor and an acquaintance, cook up the tale he presented on camera.