More Reader Comment on PBS Article
Editor’s Note: A number of readers commented about our story on PBS letting Iraq War architect Richard Perle write and narrate a documentary on the “war on terror.” We are publishing several of the comments, pro and con, about our piece, “Time for PBS to Go?”:
This is the same PBS that has given us the extremely
establishmentarian McNeil-Lehrer / PBS Newshour of
usually government or former government administrative
or political officials talking heads (within the
virtually exclusive narrow range of
Republican-Democract expression) for the past 30 years
-- with only rare token progressives, like Christian
Parenti or Medea Benjamin, who are told by Newshour
producers that they will not be invited back again for
telling the frank, blatant truth about the Iraq war.
This, besides the fact that PBS's preeminet, flagship,
signature documentary series, Frontline, has become
nothing but a staid low-talking propaganda series in
service to American imperialism all over the world (a
perfect example of "the more you watch the less you
know"). This is the same PBS that has one
right-of-center "debate"/interview show after another.
This is the PBS that would never have someone as far
to the left as they have plenty of people to the
right. Even the one 5:30am on Sunday morning Black PBS
"debate" show is right-of-center and worthless.
Of course, the one-sided, uncontested neocon Perle
piece was shocking and ghastly as a *NEW* low in PBS.
Of course, it -- in particular its one-sided
uncontested nature -- should be protested with phone
calls to your local affiliates, email and snailmail
letters (and even organized in person protests if
there can be sufficiently energetic people available).
Do what the Zionists in the U.S. do when they don't
like any program saying so much as that there was one
cloud somewhere over greater Israel: write, call,
protest -- make yourselves a real headache to the
offending institution. But WHY would anyone be
surprised that PBS has sunk to this new quantum low?
PBS has been going in nothing but that direction for
Thank you for this article.
I wish I had waited to write PBS until I had read this wonderful column by Robert Parry. He is one of my favorite writers.
I watched/listened to the Richard Perle segment "The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom" and was alternately appalled and frightened. I wrote PBS and expressed my disgust at the path PBS has chosen in the past several years, and specifically this program. I also said that unless and until the direction shifted, I would withhold any financial support from PBS.
Here is my dilemma: If I and people with similar positions do withdraw our support (And it has been years since I have contributed to my local PBS station due to its changed philosophy) then certainly the conservative thinking will prevail - perhaps without even minor challenges. It is a fear that continues to haunt me. But I have stuck to my word, and have not contributed since before Bill Moyers left.
Unless another public broadcast route opens up for more progressive, or left thinking people, I don't know where we will turn.
Thank you again for posting this column.
Thank you for your article objecting to the America at a Crossroads series. I intended to watch the whole set and rather enjoyed the first episode. But it was all terrible after that. I kept screaming at the television when US soldiers were shown ordering Iraqis around--"But it's their country!" By the time of the Perle episode I couldn't stand it any longer and shut it off. But I went online and sent a critical email to the comment section of the series website. I may send more as I seethe in remembrance. But, unfortunately, I am a very low income senior who hasn't contributed to PBS for a few years and I can't threaten not to give. I can only wish that even people without money can be listened to. However, looking at who was involved in producing that abomination, I don't have much hope. Probably not very many people actually have been watching the series, and your fine article is valuable in confirming the opinions of those of us who did and hated it.
I'll admit I didn't watch the PBS segment discussed below, but I don't
understand why broadcasting a biased program would generate suggestions
like this: "One possibility is for PBS contributors to express their
disgust by either cutting off donations or at least demanding back a
percentage of what they’ve already given. At least that might show CPB
board members and PBS executives that there is a price to pay for
selling out journalistic principles."
How about a letter instead? This response sounds hysterical if from a
progressive. It's about what I'd expect from a conservative. If it
wasn't for the brief bio at the bottom of the page, I'd have assumed
your agenda was conservative: to get rid of public support for PBS and
make it even more beholden to government handouts than it already is.
An even better response would be for every progressive in the USA to send
PBS a letter expressing disgust, and enclosing the donation they've
always neglected to send, explaining that it is intended to help correct
the shortage of populist funding that prevents the Corporation for
Public Broadcasting from flipping the bird to Congress and their
piddly-ass manipulative miniscule subsidies. If we abandon every popular
medium where someone like Bill Moyers has even an occasional opportunity
to tell it like it is, just because they also air an opposing view
occasionally, pretty soon we'll have no media left.
And aren't we the ones interested in free speech? Don't we believe the
answer to speech isn't to silence the speaker, but more and better
speech? Can't we think of a better response to warmongers than to plug
our ears and start singing real loud? Don't we have any confidence that
people will see that program for the piece of Bushism it is? For
starters, we could discuss the Just War Doctrine to provide context for
blindly nationalist arguments in favor of the Iraq war. But how can we
educate people if we refuse to hold a conversation? And how can we hold
a conversation if we refuse to listen?
Of course this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.
Thanks for your analysis of Richard Perle and his segment on PBS. I agree that PBS not even half of its old self. Every year I swear to drop my subscription, but some how hang in. Last night the segment on American Muslims, I thought, was a whitewash. I never saw such a compliant group of people as presented last night. This shows what happens when conservatives get their hands on power. Who knew they were so bad? Ronald Reagan sucked, but he was somewhat held in check. This is awful, and I appreciate all you write to enlighten us.
...and I recorded the 12 hours of "nonsense", thinking I would get a fair reporting of the Iraq attack! After reading your article, I see what a waste it was -- all that remains is to reuse the tapes! I will contact PBS to notify them of my feelings and to advise them that I will withhold future donations until they start to report "fairly". Thank you for your great website.
In your piece Time for PBS to Go? April 19, 2007
>The implication of the PBS program was that there was only one reasonable
and moral conclusion, which was to support President Bush wholeheartedly in
his invasion of Iraq and his conduct of the "war on terror."
While I am loathe to disagree with you (I think you are writing the
definitive history of this period of our time), and I concur with your
background information on the current state of PBS and the CPB, I don't
think anyone could reach that conclusion from watching this series or that
episode. I had the same reaction you did when "The Case for War: In Defense
of Freedom" started. It was very difficult to watch. With the first
couple of segments, I was afraid it was going to be Perle against nut jobs.
I was furious they would air this crap. I'm glad I stayed with it. After
the first 10 minutes, he was contradicting himself and before it was over he
didn't have an answer for anything. Is this a matter of giving him enough
rope to hang himself?
The "implication" I came away with was that they have no excuse for getting
us into this mess. But, now that we are in the mess, we have to clean it
up. Now if,
>The original idea was to air "America at a Crossroads" before Election
2006, possibly around the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, all the
better to help ensure continued Republican one-party control of the federal
Then I don't think this series would have helped. Most of this has been a
serious indictment of this administration's handling of foreign policy.
Perhaps it was,
>But production delays and internal PBS disputes pushed the broadcast date
back to April 2007. Now, the series is helping energize Bush's supporters to
fight Democratic proposals for setting a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from
I'll have to wait and see how this energizes people. I will say that
reading your piece, and having read you for some time now, I do see the
fingerprints of the influence you document throughout this series. But I
think most of it is time well spent.
Thank-you! And keep up the great work. We need you. I agree with Bartcop
when he says
>Consortiumnews.com is the most important site in the Internet.
Lowell C Smith
good piece - I, too saw this coming in the early 80's - keep up the good
Robert Goode, Sr.
I have suspected for many months now that Bush & friends were once again tampering with NPR and PBS. A few years ago, the Republican mouthpiece, Ken Tomlinson, gave us some headaches. Perhaps he was just part of a bigger plan.
I pledged to WETA National Public Radio for years and listened to it constantly. "Pledge today to keep the programs you've love so well," they said. Then with hardly a warning, /WETA switched to all classical -- they didn't keep All Things Considered, Morning Edition, BBC, etc. When they said ALL classical, they meant it.
WETA radio received so many complaints, they had to answer them with a mass e-mail. There was a need for classical music in the Washington area, they said. Funny. I've heard classical music on other stations in the area. Perhaps not only does the conservative right want to keep D.C. residents from voting, but they don't want them to hear unbiased news either.
The fact that PBS has allowed itself to be used in such a blatant one-sided way with the broadcast of the propaganda series, "America at a Crossroads" and particularly the segment "A Case for War - In Defense of Freedom, narrated by Richard Perle, without any counter balance, suggests that while we address other crisis in our nation, conservatives have been quietly pressuring national public media and getting involved in the programming.
It appears to me that a full court press is being made to secure George W. Bush's legacy. Besides the PBS broadcast, President Bush has made a few speeches this week in which he spoke about his "firm" belief in freedom ("that's why I went into Iraq"). This is an astounding claim, since "freedom" was probably the fifth or sixth reason he gave for his pre-emptive strike on Iraq - when the public didn't buy his previous reasons.
A couple of months ago, I wrote to my representatives about my concerns regarding PBS and NPR. I implore everyone else to do likewise.
It wasn't a month ago that I half-sat through the usual
NPR-affiliate fundraiser; the next one's coming in June.
Now, most folks here know that NPR has shown gross bias for more
than a decade. As a preface, let me note that in the late eighties,
until he died, I could listen to dueling commentators: Linda Chavez,
Raygun's first Sec'y of Labor, and Michael Harrington, co-chair of the
Democratic Socialists of American.
1) Then came Clinton. They covered *every* *single* wacko Republican
reason for impeachment. They have *NEVER* covered our calls for it, for
all the years of the Bush residency.
2) In Nov, 1995, during the Republican shutdown of the government,
Bob Edwards had *two* freshmen Repbublicans, and handed them
their talking points so softly that I knew I'd *never* heard
brown-nosing before. He had *NO* spokesman for Clinton, or the
3) After that, for several years, we got a spokesman from the
Libertarian Cato Inst, and some Rush-Limburger wannabe.
I'll pass over too many things to mention, but I'll end with this:
4) Recently, on a Monday, they gave indicted Tom Delay nearly
ten minutes to flog his book (and possibly bias the future
5) The next day, they had a *snide* coverage of Al Gore's
presentation to Congress, with a right-wing (Enterprise
Inst? Cato Inst?) coverage. NO Gore himself, or spokesman, or...
So I'd like to propose this: they regularly tell us that small donors
provide more than 50% of NPR and its affiliate's budget. For this June's
fundraiser, don't pledge. Do contact them, and tell them that you'll do
this until they provide *balanced* coverage. Every minute of Enterprise
Inst. spokesman, the same for union, or socialist spokesman. For every
minute of Republicans speaking, the same for Dems.
I think one pledge drive that falls *way* short will give them the
wake-up call they obviously need. The right certainly won't make up the
This June, just say no.
I almost exclusively watch PBS and I have enjoyed the America at a Cross Roads series.
I have not renewed my yearly membership with PBS this last year or so since I got wind of PBS leaning to the pressure of money and power by the right…although I feel compelled to renew my membership during the endless drives, especially since I watch PBS almost exclusively; I do see the point made in the commentary by Robert Parry (Time for PBS to go?).
I guess I am still too uneducated yet to be as upset by the point expressed by Perle, as I am a political novice, but I know I am a Liberal and voted all my adult life as a Democrat. I still agree with the idealisms of my parents who raised their children Liberal and Democrat.
I took what Perle had to say with a grain of salt as the other point of view; that of the Republican/hard nosed right wing, considering that this part of the series was giving the opposite viewpoint or another viewpoint as I expect from PBS programming.
What I took from the rest of the series were many points against the war and Republican Bush administration and it’s supporters.
I have not had a chance to question my father and husband (whose opinions I respect) about
Perle, the Cold War and Reagan much. I simply recall that time in my life I was busy raising two boys alone and politics was just an irritation; but I knew that Reagan made my skin crawl and I really wasn’t too sure why. I thought it was that he was a superficial actor from California that disgusted me-but it was according to my instincts, more complex than I was willing to take time for.
Thank you for the enlightenment of the commentary piece and I will keep trying to catch up and keep up! Despite the fact that my family thinks I have get too upset when war/Bush/administration is the topic!
I do appreciate my instincts.
I am an avid NPR listener (KQED) and did not see the programming that aroused Parry's ire. I can only form opinion from my own experiences with NPR radio and those lead me to defend NPR wholeheartedly.
With a choice for liberal listeners currently confined to either NPR, Pacifica radio or Air America I would confirm my choice of NPR for several reasons. Firstly they are, in my own long term listening experience, scrupulously fair and balanced, always providing the listener with all sides of complex issues, thus allowing a thinking voter and citizen the chance to make a knowledgeable choice.
Secondly, they are far from the "Limbaugh Left" programming of the fledgling AAR network, though that certainly has a place in political programming and , once they sort out and gain more in the way of astute political commentators, like Thom Hartmann and Laura Flanders,I believe they will prosper.
I do understand that many on the left , so tired of the right wing programming that has dominated the airwaves for twenty or more years now, the bloviated drug addicted Limbaugh, the psychologically damaged O'Reilly, the inane and sophomoric Sean Hannity and the unmentionable Michael Savage, resent any bending to the ideology of the right by a supposed ally on the left.
There may very well be undue pressure coming from the CPB's new Bush appointees to program right wing positions, but Bush has only a year and a half to continue his assault on America's freedoms and we can certainly survive for another eighteen months or so without asking for the scalp of National Public Radio. Besides, given the alternatives available, given the exemplary track record of NPR I vote that Robert Parry tone it down, think a bit harder and support the best political programming available to us. That would certainly be NPR.
To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.
Back to Home Page