Chris Matthews Lets Creationist Tom Tancredo Off the Hook

Chris Matthews, you’ve disappointed me.

Yesterday, he brought Republican Congressman Mike Pence on his show to ask how Republicans could be so anti-science when they know so little about it. Pence knew next to nothing about evolution and Matthews delivered an excellent smackdown.

Today, to continue the same discussion, Matthews had on former Republican Congressman Tim Tancredo. Tancredo, if you don’t remember, was one of the three Republican presidential candidates who raised his hands and said he did not accept evolution (along with Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee).

On the show, Tancredo went on and on about Intelligent Design… Matthews said absolutely nothing in response. It was pathetic.

A partial transcript:

Tancredo: … When you look at this very carefully, and believe me, I’m not a theologian. I’m not a scientist. I’m just a layman that looks at the evidence I have in front of me… and when you do look at it carefully, it does seem to me that the one is equal to the other in terms of the number of people who support it… their backgrounds, the research that’s out there. It’s not so clear cut.

You know, even Darwin said in order to prove evolution — his kind of evolution — you would need literally thousands — maybe millions — of fossils that were transitional. We should be able to find them. But of course we haven’t been able to find them…

I certainly believe evolution occurs within species naturally. Humans beings have grown tolerant over time… that’s certainly true. But crossing of species — There is no evidence of that. You have to make an assumption. And I’m just saying that assuming that is just as tough as assuming that there’s Intelligent Design.

It’s every misguided, unsupported, untrue Creationist belief rolled into one ignorant tirade.

I’m currently reading Jerry Coyne‘s excellent new book Why Evolution is True which addresses and debunks every single issue Tancredo brings up. There are plenty of transitional fossils and macroevolution does occur.

Meanwhile, Matthews just went on to his next question. He did ask how ID was different from theistic evolution, but nothing he asked addressed the garbage coming out of Tancredo’s mouth.

What horrible journalism.

(Thanks to Rebecca for the link!)

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    I’m just a layman that looks at the evidence I have in front of me.

    Too bad the only evidence in front of him is his Bible and the Answers in Genesis website.

  • zoo

    But crossing of species — There is no evidence of that.

    Liger? Tigon? Leopon? Jaglion? Tigard? Pumapard? See, I don’t think “species” is the word you wanted. Of course, even if it wasn’t, Iason has the right idea. You don’t even have to dig, Tim, just visit the right section of your local public library and you can get plenty of books that explain the evidence in layman’s terms.

  • http://www.bottle-imp.com Daniel

    I loved the clip of Matthews hammering Pence, but really, Chris Matthews is generally a goof. He normally gets on my nerves.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    it does seem to me that the one is equal to the other in terms of the number of people who support it

    Interesting case of ontological relativism from those that decry moral relativism.

    Scientific truth is not dependent on the opinion of the masses.

  • Michael

    I never understood the false distinction between “micro evolution” and “macro evolution”. Macro evolution is just the combined effect of a whole bunch of micro evolutionary steps over a long period of time.

    If you accept micro evolution then you automatically accept macro evolution, because there is no difference. It’s the same mechanism.

    To admit one and deny the other is like saying that if you keep stacking bricks in an orderly fashion then it’s impossible to end up with a house. The argument is patently absurd.

    The effect is cumulative. Anyone who doesn’t understand that, clearly doesn’t understand the first thing about how evolution works.

    Furthermore, I have yet to meet a fundamentalist that doesn’t believe in evolution. None of them will admit it, but they do.

    Every sane person (I’m throwing fundies into that category, though it’s arguable that they belong) believes the following:

    *Genetics determine our default physical traits.

    *Your DNA is a combination of the DNA of your parents. As such, heredity exists. Your physical traits are determined by your parent’s DNA.

    *Many diseases are caused by gene mutation, such as Huntington’s Disease. As such, genetic mutation does occur.

    *If a mutation is harmful, you are less likely to have children and pass on your genes to future generations. On the other hand, if the effect is beneficial, you are more likely to have children, and more of them.

    And that’s it. That’s all there is to evolution; heredity, mutation and selection. Fundies understand all of the components of evolution, and accept that they are true on their own. The problem only occurs when you combine the pieces and call it evolution.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Chris Matthews occasionally delights and surprises, but overall he is a pretty crappy journalist.

    I can’t get over the transitional fossil lie that the creationists keep bringing up. It’s like denying that the sky is blue. There are so many fossils that show evidence of transition. Why do they keep lying about that?

  • Tony Boling

    I wouldn’t be too mad at Matthews. He’s got a very limited amount of time per segment and if he doesn’t get his question answered, there’s not much he can do about it.

  • David D.G.

    I wonder if Matthews got some heat from his superiors for “badgering” Pence on such points in the previous interview (presumably because of risking offending religious viewers), and thus had to let this stuff pass. It wouldn’t surprise me, and it would certainly explain the inconsistency here.

    ~David D.G.

  • http://www.gregorywalsh.net Greg

    The level of ignorance on display from both Matthews and Tancredo is appalling.

    Matthews comes off as someone who supports the primacy of science and reason but doesn’t know anything about it beyond what he was taught decades ago in a Catholic primary school.

    This says more about the failure of American science education than anything else.

  • Nick

    It’s possible that the either the editorial management or even Chris Matthews himself decided to bring someone (Tancredo) a bit more prepared than Pence to defend that viewpoint. Unfortunately, some newsrooms decided that in the interested of “fairness” or, really, to avoid looking like the coverage is one-sided, they’ll do follow ups on the same issue. But, instead of hard-hitting coverage, the journalist will toss softballs. It’s crap journalism. I don’t know if this is the case with Matthews, but it looks like it could be to me.

  • http://hotchicksdigsmartmen.blogspot.com/ Janiece

    My former representative, ladies and gentlemen.

    I’m so proud.

  • littlejohn

    I saw that exchange yesterday, and it was very frustrating. I wish someone with a background in biology or philosophy had been in on the discussion.
    Matthews apparently was unfamiliar with intelligent design and assumed it was the same as theistic evolution. It isn’t of course, but Tim let Chris’s misunderstanding go uncorrected.
    If Matthews understood that ID is simply sexed-up creationism, I assume he would have called Tancredo on it.
    As it was, Tancredo never really answered the question; he obfuscated in a despicable manner. But Tancredo’s Christian followers caught the code words, I’m sure.
    I wonder if Tancredo really believes that stuff or simply feels he has to fake it in order to get re-elected?
    These are sad times for the GOP.

  • Transcription Nazi

    I certainly believe evolution occurs within species naturally. Humans beings have grown tolerant over time…

    I think he actually says “taller over time,” not tolerant over time.

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