Accuracy in Media

With hundreds of cable channels, why do we have to watch cable TV programs that feature endless coverage of Natalee Holloway? The answer is, we don’t. What’s more, there is a good channel out there associated with the New York Times.

Are you tired of the New York Times on paper? Perhaps you ought to try watching the Times on TV. Indeed, in conjunction with the Discovery Channel, the New York Times offers a documentary channel called Discovery Times. This channel has no coverage of missing person cases but it has recently been offering an excellent two-hour program completely debunking the popular Dan Brown book The Da Vinci Code, which claims that the Christian Church has conspired to suppress the real truth about Jesus. It is going to become a major motion picture from Sony, directed by Ron Howard and featuring Tom Hanks.

Brown’s book, which is fiction but claims to be based on fact, insists that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, had a child, and that a secret society called the Priory of Sion has possessed this shocking truth. Members of the group reportedly included Leonardo Da Vinci, who is said to have portrayed the truth about Jesus in esoteric ways in his famous painting of The Last Supper. 

The show, “The Real Da Vinci Code,” was originally broadcast in Britain and was shown in Canada before arriving on the Discovery Times Channel here in the U.S.

Curiously, the program is presented by Tony Robinson, a British television comedy actor who in this program travels around the world attempting to discover a factual basis for the any of the claims in the Brown book. His car features a bobble head Jesus on the dashboard. 

A colorful character, Robinson nevertheless does serious research in his travels. One of the interesting parts of the documentary involves an inquiry into the Priory of Sion, the organization that is supposed to possess the truth about Jesus that the church doesn’t want you to know. In his book, Brown describes it as a European secret society and “a real organization.” But the documentary makes a strong case that the group is a complete fraud and hoax cooked up by a few Frenchmen.

Brown’s website features glowing reviews of the book, such as “unputdownable,” from the Washington Post, and “His research is impeccable,” from the New York Daily News. A page on his website features his numerous media appearances and favorable reviews from many different publications, including the New York Times.

But the documentary carried by the Discovery Times channel is not kind to Brown, who refused to be interviewed because he is said to be at work on his next novel. Indeed, Brown’s website declares that he “will be unavailable for interviews or appearances until the release of his next novel. No release date is yet scheduled.”

The release date for the film has already been set for May 19, 2006. The fear is that the film may be as flawed as the book. The Times itself recently reported that those working on the film “have consulted with Catholic and other Christian specialists on how they might alter the plot of the novel to avoid offending the devout.” One of those specialists is Amy Welborn, who published a refutation of Brown’s book called “De-Coding Da Vinci.” You can go to her website at

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