Over the past five months since AiG’s Creation Museum opened, the press coverage for the museum has not only been substantial, but fair and accurate overall—something that Bible-believing ministries are not usually accorded in the secular media. We are grateful, of course, for the generally balanced (and free!) media coverage in the national and international press.1
There have been exceptions, however, to the overall positive coverage. British correspondents in particular have often displayed a condescending and/or mocking tone towards the museum. (Perhaps this is because Darwin is a favorite son in Great Britain.) Also, the reporting by one of AiG’s hometown newspapers, The Cincinnati Post, has been spotty—especially from a Post columnist who has used more ink on AiG and the Creation Museum than any other topic he has covered in the past year or two for his religion columns. His columns are usually highly critical of AiG.2
In a recent column against the museum, this Post columnist wrote a piece that was so inaccurate that we asked our publicists to submit a rebuttal. Because The Post did not print it and instead issued a vague, hard-to-spot-in-the-paper correction of sorts (it did not even mention some of the errors we were attempting to correct), we will post it here.
First, here are the relevant excerpts from the original column, which is followed by the rebuttal The Post did not print. At the outset, we wish to point out the somewhat misleading headline—one that suggests some kind of a church-state violation.
Column by Kevin Eigelbach
Some of you might have seen the big brown signs on local highways that let you know you're nearing the Creation Museum in Boone County, Ky. There's even one in Indiana, on eastbound Interstate 74 near the Brooksville exit, the route that museum visitors from Indianapolis would take.
They display the famous “Unbridled Spirit” logo that the Fletcher administration designed for Kentucky.
. . .
It turns out that the state did put the signs up, but that Answers in Genesis paid $5,000 apiece for them, Transportation Cabinet spokesperson David Devers told me.
There are four of the big brown signs altogether, two of them on interstate highways and two on conventional highways, he said.
Answers in Genesis simply took advantage of a benefit available to any other major Kentucky tourist attraction.
If you want signs for your attraction, you have to persuade a state committee of transportation and commerce cabinet officials.
You must have some kind of cultural, historical, recreational, agricultural, educational or entertainment center.
Devers didn’t know if the committee had decided if the Creation Museum was an educational or entertainment center.
The signs aren't generally available for places of lodging, malls or commercial enterprises.
They’re also available only to attractions that will bring in at least 10,000 tourists annually if they're in a rural area, or 75,000 if they're in an urban area.
. . .
(Staff reporter Kevin Eigelbach writes on religion for The Post.)
The rebuttal to the above column now follows. It was written earlier this month; when we learned it would not be printed, we decided to post it here.
As a professional in the communications industry, I find it disappointing that one of your reporters continues to file stories that are inaccurate, biased, and not well-researched. Journalists have a responsibility to their audiences to ensure that everything they report is true and verifiable. If they fail in this duty, they betray the public trust placed in them.
I’m writing specifically in regard to last week’s column by Kevin Eigelbach on the Creation Museum of Answers in Genesis, an organization against which this reporter seems to have an ongoing personal vendetta. Specifically, these are the inaccuracies in his story entitled “State Erected Signs for AiG Museum”:
- Museum officials know of no brown Kentucky state sign with the words “Creation Museum” placed in Indiana. In fact, would the state of Indiana even allow such a thing? In reality, the museum has instead a full-size, lighted billboard posted in Indiana, arranged through paying an ad agency, not through the state of Kentucky. The columnist made a big issue of this (it was in his opening paragraph).
How Kevin could be confused between state-authorized brown signs and a large lighted billboard advertisement is remarkable—unless he did not see the Indiana sign for himself. A careful reporter would have made the short drive across the Indiana state line and could have avoided making such an embarrassing mistake.
- The Creation Museum paid the state of Kentucky to erect two standard-size interstate signs, not four as the columnist wrongly stated. These two interstate signs are erected on I-275, and there are four small directional signs off the interstate and near the museum.
- Furthermore, none of these signs “display the famous ‘Unbridled Spirit’ logo” as the columnist wrote.
- As Kevin ultimately acknowledged, the Creation Museum (just as with the beer museum off Buttermilk Pike) has met all the state requirements for a standard sign. Yet the headline alarmingly declared “State Erected Signs for AIG Museum.” I understand that a columnist doesn’t usually write the headline, but the tone of the story obviously led the headline writer to believe that perhaps something wrong had been done by the state.
I appreciate The Post’s desire for fair and accurate reporting. I trust that you will not allow one reporter to continue to blemish your record in covering the Creation Museum and its success (230,000 visitors in just 4 ½ months).
Melany Ethridge, ALRC (publicists for Answers in Genesis/Creation Museum)
The Post, choosing not to use the rebuttal above, instead printed a flimsy “correction” notice. It simply stated: “A sign along Interstate 74 in Indiana advertising the Creation Museum was paid for by Answers in Genesis, which owns and operates the museum. A column on October 11 incorrectly implied it was a brown road-side marker the group paid Kentucky to erect along nearby interstates” (Kentucky News in Brief). Compare the paper’s meager “clarification” to what our publicist attempted to correct. Also, note the word “implied” in the clarification. In all, the paper’s editors tried to minimize the columnist’s egregious errors.
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A Post columnist—well known for his ongoing antipathy towards the Creation Museum and its Bible-centered messages—has written twice recently about the security presence at the new museum. By comparison, he mentioned the Cincinnati Art Museum (and other museums) as a facility with low-key security. His commentary last Friday, however, was an apples-and-oranges comparison.
When I attended the museum’s grand opening, with over 4,000 others, about 40–50 people were loudly protesting outside the gates. Now, I don’t recall the contents of the art museum in Eden Park ever having attracted vocal protestors. And yet the columnist chided the Creation Museum for wanting to be extra careful during its opening week, especially when one protest organizer said he expected hundreds of protestors to show up.
In an increasingly turbulent world, where even a shopping mall in Utah and a college campus in rural Virginia are unsafe, many facilities (including museums) have greatly increased their security. Even family attractions like King’s Island have installed metal detectors, and many of their security staff have guns. Some museums even have their own S.W.A.T teams now.
The columnist admitted that he felt somewhat “intimidated” inside the Creation Museum. My guess is that most families visiting the museum were reassured to know that trained security personnel were on hand, especially since protestors were expected during the week.
I suspect that the columnist’s own feeling of “intimidation,” as he called it (perhaps the better word would have been “insecurity,” pardon the pun), may have had more to do with the convicting biblical messages found in the museum, rather than the security personnel who are trying to ensure a safe environment for its guests at this magnificent new facility.
—K. S., Independence, KY
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