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PBS Responds to FAIR Studies

Ombud echoes concerns, but producers question need to broaden sources

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

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The PBS ombud and representatives of the public television programs studied in FAIR's new report, "Taking the Public Out of Public TV," have responded (10/21/10) to the research that shows an elite, inside-the-Beltway slant to the programs' guestlists.

As he has in the past (10/6/06), PBS ombud Michael Getler largely agreed with FAIR's analysis. "If you keep calling the same known and comfortable suspects, you pretty much know what you will get," Getler wrote in his October 21 column.

After noting that some of the programs feature women and people of color as reporters and hosts, he wrote:

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If Williams deserved firing, we all do.


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  • Oh, sorry, did that offend somebody?
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  • Poor Juan. It was a dumb remark. He should recognize that his fears are unfounded, apologize, and move on.
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  • Glenn Greenwald: The real danger from NPR's firing of Juan Williams
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Syl Jones, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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Juan Williams, left, and a man wearing "Muslim garb," which Williams said scares him (AP/iStockphoto)

NPR, the public radio service that incessantly begs for our listener support, fired commentator Juan Williams this week (Oct 17-23) for saying, on Bill O'Reilly's "Fear Factor" television program, that he is nervous when he flies with people who dress in Muslim garb.

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Poor Juan. It was a dumb remark. He should recognize that his fears are unfounded, apologize, and move on.

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But NPR sanctimoniously canned Williams. Which raises this question: Who among us is so devoid of irrational fears and contradictions that we should not be fired? Let's just dismiss the media at large -- well, that's not a bad idea, actually, but you know what I mean -- for transmitting stupid things each and every day.

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The real danger from NPR's firing of Juan Williams, Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell
I'm still not quite over the most disgusting part of the Juan Williams spectacle yesterday:  watching the very same people (on the Right and in the media) who remained silent about or vocally cheered on the viewpoint-based firings of Octavia Nasr, Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, Bill Maher, Ward Churchill, Chas Freeman, Van Jones and so many others, spend all day yesterday (Oct 21) wrapping themselves in the flag of "free expression!!!" and screeching about the perils and evils of firing journalists for expressing certain viewpoints.  Even for someone who expects huge doses of principle-free hypocrisy -- as I do -- that behavior is really something to behold. And anyone doubting that there is a double standard when it comes to anti-Muslim speech should just compare the wailing backlash from most quarters over Williams' firing to the muted acquiescence or widespread approval of those other firings.

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Helen Thomas Cries, Denies Anti-Semitism, Calls President Obama 'Reprehensible' Associated Press/Huffington Post
Asked whether she's anti-Semitic, she responded "Baloney!" She said she wants to be remembered for "integrity and my honesty and my belief in good journalism" and would like to work again.

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Tell PBS: Bring Back Now!

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Need to Know fails to live up to PBS mission

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

It's official: Need to Know has failed to pursue the kind of hard-hitting reporting, full of diverse perspectives, that was regularly supplied by the shows it replaced, Now and the Bill Moyers Journal. Now Friday night on PBS looks a lot like the rest of public television's prominent news and public affairs shows--which, as FAIR's new studies have documented, means a pronounced tilt towards white male sources and a miniscule number of activists or public interest advocates.

That's a far cry from the intended mission of public broadcasting--to "provide a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise be unheard," to serve as "a forum for controversy and debate," and broadcast programs that "help us see America whole, in all its diversity." The things that Moyers and Now did.

When PBS announced without explanation that it was cancelling Now, just as Moyers was retiring, FAIR activists encouraged PBS to "develop new programming that will be just as tough and independent" as the Journal and Now.

Since the new show falls short of that goal, PBS should bring back the program that did exactly what public television should be doing, and restore Now to its original one-hour timeslot.

As a matter of fact, Now will return on November 18 with a special one-hour broadcast devoted to local communities and economic innovation. That's a start. But how about giving viewers this kind of journalism every week?

It would be wonderful if every program on PBS lived up to the mission of public broadcasting. Let's start by bringing back Now.

Click here to sign FAIR's petition today!

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Related:

Taking the Public Out of Public TV, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

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  • PBS fare differs little from commercial TV
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  • There is precious little "public" left in "public television."
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  • Choking on Its Contrived Objectivity, the Media Refuses to Take a Stand on Sanity
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The Fox News Factor

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O'Donnell received instruction on how to use Fox News to her political advantage from the master: paid Fox News contributor Sarah Palin.

Progress Report, Think Progress

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At a strategy meeting earlier this month, Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell reportedly told party insiders skeptical about her campaign that she had Fox News' "Sean Hannity in my back pocket, and I can go on his show and raise money by attacking you guys."

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The fact that Fox News and its right-wing news personalities favor conservative candidates is not a secret to many people with a cable box, but amidst the current discussion over how big money is influencing this election cycle, Rupert Murdoch's highly rated "news" channel is rarely placed in the discussion. It should be: Fox News, part of the multi-billion dollar News Corporation, uses its $1.21 billion budget to provide a 24-hour propaganda and fundraising outlet for conservative candidates, many of whom confess the channel is their preferred method of "getting their voice out." The channel hosts or straight-out employs more conservative politicians than any other outlet, and provides a constant stream for their misinformation, which is often abetted by Fox News personalities, many of whom campaign for or advise GOP candidates off the air. The right-wing billionaires who are the financial backbone of the Tea Party movement have a partner in Fox News, which has been instrumental in propagating its message, even hosting live Tea Party rallies from outdoor Fox News studios. And in recent months, News Corp. has simply handed over millions of dollars to conservative campaign outfits like the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Taking the Public Out of Public TV, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

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  • PBS fare differs little from commercial TV
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  • There is precious little "public" left in "public television."
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  • Choking on Its Contrived Objectivity, the Media Refuses to Take a Stand on Sanity
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