From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Joy A. Ikelman)
Date: 30 Jun 93 14:30:10 GMT
Organization: National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA, Boulder, Co
29 June 1993:
NETWORK VICTIM OF HOAX?
by the Associated Press
New York--Is a TV show excused from sticking to the truth if it isn't
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
But the story was a fabrication, according to the man who said he
helped Jammal concoct it. The "relic" on view was just a piece of
Many scholars cried foul after the special telecast.
CBS "acted irresponsibly in airing a so-called documentary that was
actually a propaganda vehicle for "creationshists" opposed to the
theory of evolution," charged the Committee for the Scientific
Examination of Relgion, 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 yesterday 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 archeology
at the University of Souther California, said he helped Jammal, a
sometimes actor and an acquaintance, cook up the tale he presented on
"For a guy who had never been to the site (believed to be on Mount
Ararat in Turkey), Jammal was a little bit confused: "What do I say?
I don't know anything about Mount Ararat,""Larue said. "So we talked
a little about that."
Larue had been interviewed for an earlier special, which like "Noah's
Ark" was produced by Utah-based Sun International Pictures. He called
that program "unfair pseudo-science," and said his prank was designed
to expose Sun's research practices.
"They didn't test the wood," Larue said. "they didn't even check on
Jammal. They just bought into the story."
"We couldn't test the wood in time for our deadline," said Dave
Balsiger, chief researcher and field producer for the film, "but we
were very thorough in checking Jammal out." Since the controversy
arose, he has volunteered to take a lie detector test, Balsinger said.
--end of article--