What George Seldes Would Say About George Shultz Documentary

New York Times blogger Brian Stelter (7/20/10) reports on the controversy over the PBS documentary on George Shultz that was funded by Shultz’s friends and associates. Stelter quotes the producer of the show’s response to the criticism, along with FAIR’s rejoinder:

The series’ producer, David deVries, said in a statement to Mr. Getler that “throughout the almost three years it took me to create the series, I was completely unaware of who the funders were.” (In response, FAIR said Tuesday that the producer needn’t be aware of the funders’ identities because the company behind the series, Free to Choose Media, “consistently” produces conservative projects.)

In other words, it’s not necessary for the producer to know who the funders are to be affected by the funding; the funders determined that the product would be a conservative-friendly portrayal of their conservative friend when they gave their money to Free to Choose Media, because that’s the kind of programming that Free to Choose makes. As for deVries’ insistence that he was totally independent, and that’s it’s merely a coincidence that his documentary came up with the same kind of message that all other Free to Choose documentaries have, George Seldes said it best:

The most stupid boast in the history of present-day journalism is that of the writer who says, “I have never been given orders; I am free to do as I like.”

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.