Missouri Legislator Asks CNN to Stop Misrepresenting His Bill

SEATTLE — Missouri state legislator Wayne Cooper has asked CNN to stop spreading misinformation about a bill he sponsored on the teaching of evolution.

On April 4th, CNN erroneously reported that Missouri and other states are currently considering proposals that “would fire teachers who refused to teach alternatives to evolution theory….”

In a letter to CNN President Jim Walton on April 8, Cooper pointed out that CNN’s report was false because he revised his bill to drop the teacher penalty provision several weeks ago.

“While the original version of a bill I introduced in January did have a provision to this effect,” Cooper wrote, “on February 23, 2004, I filed a revised version of the bill that no longer contained the provision. So the teacher penalty provision is no longer being considered by the Missouri Legislature. Unfortunately, the CNN reporter, (Denise Belgrave) who filed this story never contacted me prior to her report to verify the current status of my bill, apparently relying instead on outdated information on the Missouri Legislative website. Given that the main focus of Ms. Belgrave’s report was my bill, I find it remarkable that I was not contacted by CNN before the report aired.”

Rep. Cooper added that he communicated this information to CNN producer Michael Heard on April 6, two days after CNN aired its false report. But then CNN issued a statement to the press defending its original story as accurate and continuing to imply that the teacher penalty provision was in the current version of Cooper’s bill.

“I fail to understand how CNN could put out such a statement after I clearly told your producer otherwise,” Cooper wrote. “I ask that you immediately take whatever action is necessary to correct the error of CNN’s original story, and to ensure that CNN staff do not continue to spread this false claim.”

“CNN likes to claim that it’s ‘the most trusted name in news,'” says Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. “But it’s doing a pretty poor job living up to that slogan in the present case. Why won’t it come clean and correct the record?”

About Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture
Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is the nation’s leading think tank and research center examining scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution. Discovery Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public-policy, think tank which promotes ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty. Current projects include: technology, the economy, regional transportation, and the bi-national region of “Cascadia.”

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.