Date: 30 Jun 93 14:30:10 GMT 29 June 1993: NETWORK VICTIM OF HOAX? by the Associated Press

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From: jai@kryton.ngdc.noaa.gov (Joy A. Ikelman) Date: 30 Jun 93 14:30:10 GMT Organization: National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA, Boulder, Co Message-ID: <1993Jun30.143010.11160@ucsu.Colorado.EDU> Newsgroups: alt.paranet.skeptic 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 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" on view was just a piece of wood. 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 camera. "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--

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