Below is a copy of the letter I sent to Engel Entertainment, the producers of the American Treasures "Westford Knight" episode that aired last night (March 15, 2011) on Discovery Channel, in which I was an on-air guest. Needless to say, I thought the production was lacking in journalistic integrity and academic rigor. I strongly advise other researchers not to participate in Engel Entertainment productions.
Dear Mr. Heinzelman:
I want to formally voice my displeasure and disappointment regarding the American Treasures “Westford Knight” episode that aired last night (March 15, 2011) on Discovery Channel, in which I was an on-air guest. I was surprised by the lack of both journalistic integrity and academic rigor in the Engel Entertainment production. Specifically:
1. I was under the impression that the evidence both for and against the authenticity of the Westford Knight carving would be presented. Instead, through creative and sometimes fraudulent editing, the evidence in favor of authenticity was whitewashed from the record. At one point the host asked me for evidence in support of the carving. Instead of airing my response (I detailed a number of other artifacts, sites, maps, documents, geological reports, etc. supporting authenticity), the camera cut to an image of me with a blank face. At another point one of the hosts declared the carving could have been carved in the 1940s, when I had just shown him written evidence (off camera) that the carving existed as early as the 1860s. Viewers, of course, should be free to judge the evidence and reach their own conclusions. But for Engel to use the editing process to skew and even suppress that evidence displays a complete lack of integrity. In essence, Engel is committing fraud on its viewers.
2. Equally disturbing was the use of personal attacks and innuendo by the hosts. According to your hosts, I am a lawyer, so my inclination to “tell the truth” must be in question. Also, I, like other believers of alternative histories, may or may not be “bleeping crazy.” The hosts are supposed to be academic professionals, trained to observe and analyze. I didn’t realize name-calling and innuendo now constitute academic rigor.
I agreed to appear on this show as a way to enlist outside professionals to study and analyze the carving (despite the “staged” telephone call, Engel approached me about this project, not vice-versa). I was hoping the hosts might have some ideas on how to further study the artifact. At a minimum, I thought the publicity would help get the public behind efforts to preserve the artifact for future study. Instead, I find myself as an unwilling participant in a television production that is appallingly lacking in integrity, honesty and intellectual rigor.
I will be contacting the other researchers I know in this field and advising them to stay far away from Engel Entertainment projects. I would appreciate you passing this on to the appropriate members of your company, and to the Discovery Channel as well.
David S. Brody