Nightline serves up some crap cake to atheists

The ABC News program “Nightline” broadcast a segment on atheist Edwin Kagin Friday night and from the framing and word use it was one of those “look at the scary atheist” stories. I can’t say that I am surprised since most people hate atheists and what they don’t believe.

The story started out on the crap side with the intro from host Cynthia McFadden:

The group we are about to meet are not among them (believers). They not only disbelieve they are waging a WAR against on religion and mockery is often their weapon of choice…

After hearing that violent wording no wonder some minds slammed shut.

The rest of the piece went the same way and as blogger Paul Fidalgo put it:

But I didn’t know how bad it could get. Dan Harris and those responsible for his report on Edwin Kagin, in-your-face atheism and “de-baptism” should be ashamed. The entire piece is a seven-minute finger wagging at those mean atheists. The questions to Kagin pretty much never move beyond variations on “don’t you think you’re being really rude?” Kagin and those with him at the de-baptism ceremony are portrayed as nasty, callous jerks who are out to hurt feelings for the sheer joy of it. Plus, they drag out the subject of Kagin’s fundamentalist son, I suppose to serve as some kind of foil, as if you say, “How come your son is a man of God and you’re such a jerk?” Harris even pulls the “what about Stalin” canard.

Nightlines atrociously bad report on atheism

I agree with Paul. I wasn’t expecting a hand job like the believers get all the time in the news in similar profiles but at least Nightline could have been less dickish about it.

Of course the cowardly faction of atheists and freethinkers will come out and blame Edwin and the others in the profile for giving atheists a bad name as if atheism should only be about puppy dogs and rainbows. They fail to see the bias in the overall reporting. Television can even make Mother Theresa look bad if they wanted to. (It seems commenter to Paul’s blog are doing what I feared – blame the victim).

ABC decided to focus on Kagin’s de-baptism show and turn it into a negative practice which it really isn’t. Like one of the people interviewed said the difference is believers take it seriously. Edwin also said that if someone is secure in their faith then they shouldn’t be bothered by his mockery. He’s right and the same should go for the tisk-tisk atheists who cave into the whims of believers for the want of being liked.

The other bit in the report that pissed me off was the tag at the end when McFadden ended the segment with:

“the blurry line between free speech and poor taste…”

Uh, no there isn’t a line, blurry or otherwise. Free speech has nothing to do with taste because taste is subjective while free speech isn’t.

Here is the profile if you want to see it:

Edwin Kagin profile on ABC’s Nightline 07/16/2010


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  1. July 20, 2010

    Nightline lost nearly all it's integrity long ago. They rarely offer informative pieces worth anyone's time, instead seeking to stir emotions that are easy rating earners for a particular segment of the viewers. Dan Harris and Cynthia McFadden confirmed my opinion with this piece, but Edwin Kagin made it easier for them to do so.

    Though I appreciate humor and understand sarcasm, I disagree with Kagin's timing for this atheist promotion, seeing this as a cheapening of our quest for reason over faith because of the national media attention he was receiving at the time. Yes, this was humorous to those attending with previous awareness of Kagin's serious contributions, but to the majority of viewers, he just came across as a little nuts.

    I can only hope that I'm wrong and the piece convinced people to stop and consider how ridiculous the baptism and de-baptism is, opening the door to their own rational thinking.

  2. July 23, 2010

    The point of the piece was to show atheists in a negative light because the bias of the program meant to do that. It confirmed their established agenda.

    To paraphrase a line from a TV show I saw the other day – we are not responsible for their reaction to our beliefs. Believers are never going to like atheists even if they only see rainbows and puppy dogs.

    This isn't about being a popularity contest when actual truth is involved. I don't hate believers in general I just think they have come to the wrong conclusion. I would never want to prevent them from having their beliefs but I can't say the same for them about atheists.

    My recent post Nightline serves up some crap cake to atheists

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