CNN Tries Again

After the embarrassing panel discussion from last week, CNN tried once again to talk about atheism… this time they even included atheists!

OneGoodMove is on top of the video clips.

Richard Dawkins’ segment was short, but he made his points well enough.

The panel discussion, featuring Ellen Johnson of American Atheists, was also unbelievably short.

And remember that absurd question from last time: “Why do atheists inspire such hatred?”

It changed. Now, it’s “Are atheists morally compromised?”

Thanks, CNN. That’s much better…

And I don’t know where CNN keeps finding them, but this segment’s token Christian was as clueless as Debbie Schlussel.

CNN and Paula Zahn just need to admit they have no clue what they’re talking about before they dig themselves into an even deeper hole…

[tags]atheist, atheism, CNN, Paula Zahn, OneGoodMove, Richard Dawkins, Ellen Johnson, American Atheists, Christian, Debbie Schlussel[/tags]

  • eli sarver

    Yes, that was a major disappointment. Of course, that show appears to come on 15 minutes late in the first place, and they had to fill in with other content for the rest of the hour.

    I found it funny that the clueless preacher man was talking about how homosexuals ‘impose their lifestyle’ on us, and the next segment was about the gay NBA player.

  • Robert Nevin

    At least CNN tried to make up for the one-sided hack job they did in the earlier segment. The Dawkins interview was good, but the panel discussion was very unsatisfying because of the short time allotment and the clumsy moderator. Most disappointing was Ellen Johnson and the way she fumbled the question from the Christian preacher. I sent an email to her via American Atheists:

    Ms. Johnson, it was good to see you on CNN on 2/12/07. Whenever atheists get some air time, it’s a good thing. But when the Christian preacher asked you where atheists get their morals from, I cringed at your scattered and unfocused answer. This is such a standard question, I’m surprised that you didn’t have a standard, one or two sentence reply ready to fall from your lips.

    Here’s what you said:

    PETERSON: Then, where do you get your morals from? Christians get their morals from God, from the — from the Bible, from God. Where do you get yours from?

    JOHNSON: It’s not about where we get our ethics from.

    PETERSON: Where do you get them from? It’s a question.

    JOHNSON: That’s not the…

    PETERSON: Answer the question. Where do you get them from?

    JOHNSON: But the idea that we don’t have ethics is not — no one sees that. We’re not the ones that are, you know, abusing children. Professionally religious people aren’t any more ethic — ethical…

    Here’s mine:

    “Our morals are based on human compassion. We don’t need an ancient book or a non-existent god to tell us what is good or bad.”

    Unfortunately, when the segment came to a close, a strong perception was established that atheists cannot explain their basis of morality.

    I don’t mean to be overly critical of you, Ms. Johnson. As I said, I’m glad you were on the program, and your initial points about how atheists are viewed were well spoken. But the “morals” question is a big, fat beachball, and when some bigoted Christian preacher throws it at you, you’re supposed to drill it out of the park.

    That was the gist of my email, and I’m still glad that the atheist side got some play on CNN.

    I’m new to your blog, Hermant, but I like it very much.
    Robert Nevin

  • Avery

    It’s odd to see this on CNN in a way…it was founded by Ted Turner who is a Humanist.

  • Shell

    The whole show was a joke. Her first question to Dawkins was “Why are you an atheist?” He has a brilliant answer, of course, but could they at least try to be unbiased? The question itself suggests there’s something bizarre about being an atheist.

    Then the jackass who interviewed Amaechi–who is incredibly articulate and intelligent, by the way–asked him “But weren’t you attracted to your teammates?” The HELL?

    I thought CNN had some journalistic integrity, but damn.

  • Robert Nevin

    I actually got an email back from Ellen Johnson in reply to my comments on her CNN appearance. See my post above for what I wrote to her. I will not post her response, since it would be bad form to do so without her permission. I will paraphrase her, however. She essentially said that there is no good “soundbite” response to the “morals” question. She said she didn’t feel that the “human compassion” approach fully answers the question. She said she wanted to give a better answer, but ran out of time.

    I didn’t email her back, but I do strongly disagree with her. It was incumbent on her to give a straight and unequivocal reply to the question. The discussion was badly moderated and there was no time for nuance. As I state in my post above, she sounded flustered and ended up almost sputtering as the clock ran out.

  • MTran

    Robert Nevin,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I agree with you completely that the “Atheist Morals” question must always be met with a strong, clear, cogent response. There are so many good one liners that Johnson could string together that it’s disappointing to hear that she doesn’t seem to think that it is useful to even try.

    She may have been attempting, and failing, to use a typical political strategy here: that being a refusal to accept the premise of the question. Perhaps she needs more practice at that sort of thing.

    Still, I agree that the “morality” question needs to be answered. Otherwise the Christofacists (and many moderate believers) will claim she is ducking the question because she “knows” that atheists have no basis for their morality.

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