Yesterday, I posted a piece sparked by the recent controversy about the Girl Scouts' endorsement of the leftist group Media Matters to argue that, while limelight led the Girl Scouts to reverse course, such inappropriate politicization of ostensibly non-partisan groups was not uncommon. As an example, I cited National Geographic's 2004 endorsement of the fiercely political and often anti-Semitic website of University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole.
Several Contentions readers wrote me with their own criticisms of National Geographic's willingness to embrace partisanship if not outright propaganda. One pointed me to an article published by National Geographic in October 2002, entitled, "Lines in the Sand – Deadly Times in the West Bank and Gaza," placed online by the organization without a pay wall. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) responded to that piece, documenting a number of factual errors which National Geographic declined to correct.
Another reader e-mailed me to describe a National Geographic photography exhibition:
Last year, I attended a photo exhibit at the Annenberg gallery in Century City (Los Angeles) curated by National Geographic called "Water." Great photos, all nonpolitical, except the ten or so that dealt with water in the Middle East. These showed pictures of fat, sassy Israelis laying around in huge pools, and pictures of Palestinians parched with no water. The legend indicated the Israelis were depriving the Palestinians of water.
Finally, a reader pointed me to Robert M. Poole's Explorers House, which he says in one part describes the magazine's embrace of a Nazi propagandist. If you have an Amazon account and sign-in, just search inside the book for "Douglas Chandler." It certainly looks like an interesting read and is now next on my list.