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Larry King, Chris Mooney, Penn & Teller

Science writer Chris Mooney on Larry King and the paranormal:

oes CNN, the “most trusted name in news,” take responsibility for the factual content and balance of “Larry King Live”? This article–a double-length installment of my monthly “Doubt and About” column–attempts to answer that question. After all, King’s July 1 Roswell program was no aberration. King has hosted uncritical shows about UFOs in the past. Not only that: He probably devotes more air time to spiritualist mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Brown, and Rosemary Altea than to America’s UFO obsessives. No other serious cable news anchor treats the paranormal in the consistently promotional way that Larry King does, which more resembles the approach of a Montel Williams or Jerry Springer than that of a trusted journalist.

In researching this article, I interviewed four leading skeptics who have appeared on “Larry King Live,” seeking their perceptions of why the program consistently promotes the paranormal, sometimes without airing any critical perspective at all. I also attempted to contact King or his producers to seek a response to the skeptics’ criticisms. My request, however, went unmet. As a result, I have been left with no choice but to privilege the skeptical perspective, which views “Larry King Live” as a depressing example of the way that marketing values and the demand for viewers can trump journalistic responsibility. This process leads otherwise trustworthy media outlets to inflate the reputations of psychics and promoters of the paranormal because they draw in hordes of credulous viewers. CNN may be a respected news network, but in its irresponsible presentation of paranormal topics and themes, “Larry King Live” belies and compromises that reputation.

From the same article, here’s a funny video from Penn & Tellers Call it: Bullshit show.  (there’s even a video link to the 5 greatest frauds in America today).  Chris Mooney is a major contributor to the scienceblogs.com  weblog (I blogged about his prescient science articles on New Orleans/hurricanes before).

I had a Larry King moment a few months ago. He was interviewing Prince Charles who had come to visit America a month after Hurricane Katrina. Noting that  he had gone on a tour of hurricane-devastated New Orleans, King asked, “Why did you choose to visit New Orleans?  Was it because of the hurricane’s devastation?” Prince Charles politely nodded.

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