Mar
23
2010

PBS Ombud Responds on New Public Affairs Show

Moyers 'not exactly replaceable'--so here's Meacham instead

PBS ombud Michael Getler (3/18/10) responded to a FAIR Action Alert (3/10/10) that criticized PBS's choice of Jon Meacham as co-host of the PBS public affairs show that will fill the slot left vacant by Now and Bill Moyers Journal. Wrote Getler: During the past week, my office has received about 3,000 e-mails from people, most of whom seemed to be subscribers to FAIR--the media watchdog group that describes itself as "progressive" and stands for "Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting"--and were spurred on by an online "action alert" on March 10. Getler reiterated his concern that Now and Bill Moyers […]

Mar
10
2010

PBS to Replace Moyers, NOW With Newsweek Editor?

Meacham hire would send the wrong message

PBS is reportedly in final talks with Newsweek editor Jon Meacham to be co-host of its forthcoming Need to Know program (New York Times, 3/9/10). Meacham's consideration for a show that would replace hard-hitting independent programs Now and the Bill Moyers Journal sends a clear and troubling message about PBS's priorities (Extra! Update, 6/05). Meacham is a fixture on commercial pundit shows in addition to his Newsweek duties. In these venues, he is a consummate purveyor of middle-of-the-road conventional wisdom with a conservative slant. After the 2008 election, Meacham (10/27/08) authored an article on America as a "center-right nation"--a conclusion […]

Jan
26
2010

PBS Responds to FAIR Petition

More than 14,000 have called for hard-hitting public journalism

FAIR presented a petition with more than 11,000 names to PBS on January 13, calling for worthy replacements for the exiting programs Bill Moyers Journal and Now. In all, 14,462 people signed the petition, including names added after it was delivered to PBS. In a January 22 response, PBS described its new Friday night offering, Need to Know, but gave no indication of whether the program will continue the hard-hitting tradition of its predecessors. Corporate Communications director Jan McNamara wrote that "PBS is committed to maintaining the highest level of news and public affairs programming" and that "changes to our […]

Jan
12
2010

Goodbye Moyers, Hello Bush Institute?

Tell PBS: Don't abandon hard-hitting journalism

Click here to sign FAIR's petition Two of the hardest-hitting shows on public television--Now and the Bill Moyers Journal--will be going off the air in April, as FAIR reported last month (Action Alert, 12/15/09). The two shows stand out as examples of what PBS public affairs programs should be: unflinching independent journalism and analysis. The shows have covered poverty, war and media consolidation--not to mention serious discussions of subjects taboo elsewhere, like the case for impeaching George W. Bush. PBS has offered very little explanation of what will replace these shows, saying only that they will announce changes sometime this […]

Dec
15
2009

Tell PBS: Don't Abandon Hard-Hitting Journalism

Now, Bill Moyers Journal need worthy replacements

Click here to sign FAIR's petition Bad news for PBS viewers: Now and the Bill Moyers Journal will be taken off the air in April 2010. Both programs stood out as all-too-rare examples of the hard-hitting, independent programming that should thrive on public television--which is why PBS should replace these programs with similarly thoughtful shows that continue this tradition. In late November Bill Moyers, who was also the original host of Now when it launched in 2002, announced that he would be stepping down from his Journal program, which first aired in 1972 and has been running in its current […]

Apr
09
2009

Frontline Responds on Sick Around America

In the wake of a FAIR Action Alert (4/6/09), Frontline has responded to critics of its documentary Sick Around America, defending the film's focus on mandatory private health insurance and its exclusion of the single-payer option. (Frontline's full response follows.) In an email response to FAIR (4/7/09), Frontline characterized FAIR's charge that the documentary presented mandatory for-profit healthcare as the only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system as "untrue" because the film's narrator acknowledged that "other developed countries bar health insurance companies from making profits on basic care and cap their administrative costs." While it's true that FAIR's alert […]

Apr
07
2009

Frontline Distorts Global Healthcare Options

PBS show treats mandatory for-profit insurance as the only alternative

The March 31 documentary by PBS's Frontline, Sick Around America, treated mandatory for-profit insurance coverage as the only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system--even though the documentary was a sequel to a 2008 Frontline special, Sick Around the World (4/15/08), that examined several publicly funded healthcare models, including Taiwan's single-payer system. In a segment of Sick Around America subtitled "How to Get a Fairer System," Frontline narrator Will Lyman asked Karen Ignagni, a spokesperson from the insurers' trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, why the U.S. couldn't guarantee coverage for all like other developed countries do. After Ignagni responded […]

Feb
01
2006

Consider the Source

The Nightline study and media research

I first became acquainted with FAIR in 1987, when a friend handed me a special issue of Extra! (10-11/87) that described the distortions in U.S. news coverage of Nicaragua, highlighting the success of the Reagan administration at manipulating the news media. At the time, I was a grad student in sociology at Boston College, and was working on a study of media strategies of the Central America solidarity movement and exploring broader questions about how news media reported U.S. foreign policy. With Cold War assumptions shaping both the political debate on Capitol Hill and mainstream news coverage of U.S. involvement […]