From a press release written by Chris Mooney, Indre Viskontas, and Adam Isaak:

Point of Inquiry Team Resigns, Launches New Show with Mother Jones

On Friday, Point of Inquiry’s two co-hosts—Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney—resigned from their positions at the Center for Inquiry. On Monday, Point of Inquiry producer Adam Isaak followed suit. This note is to explain our reasons for departing CFI and our future plans.

In May of 2013, when the Women in Secularism II conference took place in Washington, D.C., Point of Inquiry—the flagship podcast of the Center for Inquiry—was more successful that it has ever been. Following a format change in 2010, our audience has increased by 60 percent and our growth rate has doubled in the last year and a half. We’d recently done a highly successful live show featuring Steven Pinker before a packed room at the 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, and interviewed guests like Oliver Sacks, Jared Diamond, Paul Krugman, and Mary Roach. We had started to incorporate new, successful video content. 2013 featured our most listened-to show ever and we were averaging well over 2 million total downloads per year.

Then came the events at that conference—including a widely criticized speech by Center for Inquiry President & CEO Ronald Lindsay. Lindsay then went further, writing a blog post which referred to a post by one of his critics—Rebecca Watson—as follows: “It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.”

In response to public criticism of Lindsay’s speech and blog post, CFI’s Board of Directors issued an ambiguous statement regretting the controversy, but going no further than that.

These actions have generated much discussion, criticism and polarization within our community. In addition, they created an environment at CFI that made it very difficult for our producer, Adam Isaak, to continue working there.

We, like others, welcome Lindsay’s recent apology. That apology, however, was not followed by any direct effort to retain Chris or Indre, nor did it make up for the very real toll this controversy has taken upon our podcast and our ability to produce it.

The actions of Lindsay and the Board have made it overwhelmingly difficult for us to continue in our goal to provide thoughtful and compelling content, including coverage of feminist issues, as in past interviews with guests like Amanda Marcotte, Katha Pollitt, MG Lord, and Carol Tavris.

The Center for Inquiry has supported us in the past and has asked Chris and Indre to speak at many of its conferences. We are thankful for that. But we’re a team and we do this together. We believe that this controversy has impaired our ability to produce the highest quality podcast under the auspices of CFI and that our talents will be put to better use elsewhere.

To that end, we are in the process of formalizing a new podcast that will allow us to continue to provide the in-depth interviews with leading intellectuals that made Point of Inquiry such a success. We’ll announce the name and more details about the new podcast shortly but as of right now, we can already announce something we’re all incredibly excited about: the new show will be produced in collaboration with the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones. You can follow @MotherJones on Twitter to get the latest updates on the show’s official launch. We all look forward to turning our attention to the work at hand, and leaving this controversy behind.

Adam Isaak, Indre Viskontas, and Chris Mooney

For more information or to schedule an interview with Chris Mooney or Indre Viskontas, please contact Adam Isaak at adam(at)adamisaak.com or at 701-540-5855.

This document can also be found at: http://goo.gl/FMQHd

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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10 Comments

  1. Profile photo of morelia
    June 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm —

    What a relief! I loved Point of Inquiry, and its hosts, but had stopped listening due to its association with CFI and the too little too late on the apology Mr. Lindsay.

  2. Profile photo of Daniel Edström
    June 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm —

    Aw man… Am I going to have to like Chris Mooney now?

    • Profile photo of porlob
      June 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm —

      Actually, I love Chris Mooney. While I disagreed with many (though not all) of his stances in the spat he had PZ a few years ago, he and Indre Viskontas are fantastic interviewers, and POI under their care (and Adam Isaak too, though since he’s behind the scenes, it can be hard to appreciate) was fantastic. And his book on the climate change controversy was absolutely brilliant.

  3. Profile photo of Scott Wood
    June 25, 2013 at 5:15 pm —

    I was conflicted about continuing to listen to the podcast, so I’m glad they’re leaving CFI. Keep us posted when more info about their new podcast is available?

  4. Profile photo of delphiote
    June 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm —

    See CFI? This is how you take ACTION. When you care, you don’t just talk, you DO.

    Way to stick up for your convictions, Indre, Adam, and Chris!

  5. Profile photo of Rob Carman
    June 25, 2013 at 6:14 pm —

    Can’t wait to see what they do next. Huge fan of both Chris’s and Indre’s work. Adam also does a superb job with the show.

  6. Profile photo of pingje
    June 25, 2013 at 6:41 pm —

    This is great news. I’m really looking forward to the new show!

  7. Profile photo of Felicity
    June 26, 2013 at 8:52 am —

    I am confident this team will continue to succeed with their new podcast platform. Congratulations to them on the move.

  8. Profile photo of gonzblinko
    June 26, 2013 at 10:09 am —

    Oh hell. I finally got Ron Lindsay and CFI to agree to make their web sites, digital content and conferences accessible. Now, I guess I need to take a look at Mother Jones. Don’t you sighted people understand how moving one of my favorite podcasts can cause me to need to do work? Have you forgotten that I’m a lazy bastard who is tired of doing all of this? :-)

    My feelings are mixed. Since our awful accessibility experience at WiS, Lindsay and Melody and other, more technical people, have been very supportive of making their events better for people with disabilities in the future. Meanwhile, the ambiguous apology and Lindsay’s original attack on Rebecca make me want to walk away from CFI entirely but, once I’ve committed to an accessibility effort, I like to see it through to completion.

    In this case, juggling my advocacy for people with print and other impairments with my feminism puts me at odds with myself. Usually, my accessibility efforts have no controversy, no one is ever against better accessibility, they just don’t want to do it. Thus far, CFI led by Lindsay have been very positive on this issue but remain problematic on the feminist issues.

    So, for now, I’ll accept Lindsay’s public apology and continue trying to help their accessibility efforts. I would never have stopped listening to POI as I accept that CFI allows for a diversity of opinion and that POI has an excellent point of view. I will follow Chris and Andre to their new publisher and hope their podcast doesn’t change too much.

  9. Profile photo of buckaroosamurai
    July 8, 2013 at 9:48 am —

    Blech,
    Mother Jones is a bastion of anti-gmo nonsense so I don’t think I will be able to support their show any more. I like Chris Mooney and I’m indifferent to Indre after her POI on Elizabeth Taylor belayed a severe lack of knowledge and quite honestly insulting ignorance of an important woman. I’ll keep any eye out and maybe Chris can actually bring some reason to Mother Jones on the GMO front.

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