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RADAR Alert: Ombudsmen Refuse to Let the BTS Controversy Go Away
posted by Matt on 10:33 PM January 8th, 2006
RADAR Project

When PBS executives issued their whitewash of Breaking the Silence four days before Christmas, they figured that all the controversy would die down and things would soon get back to normal. [http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/news/20051221_breakingthesilence.html]

Because the very next day, PBS ombudsman Michael Getler appeared on the PBS MacNeil-Lehrer report. He pointed out that the documentary did not interview even a single father, and again criticized Breaking the Silence for being “quite a one-sided presentation.”

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Ombudsmen Refuse to Let the BTS Controversy Go Away

And then a few days ago Ken Bode, ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, came out with his third critique of the flawed documentary. Bode didn’t pull any punches: “I found the program to be so totally unbalanced as to fall outside the boundaries of PBS editorial standards on fairness and balance.” [http://www.cpb.org/ombudsmen/060104bode.html]

Translation: PBS blew it.

Now, PBS local affiliates have to decide who’s right: the PBS executives who approved the program in the first place, or the two independent ombudsmen of the Public Broadcasting Service and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Of course it’s possible the statements by Ken Bode and Michael Getler will be ignored. That’s exactly what the abuse advocates are hoping for. Because they have more surprises in store.

Or maybe word will get out that most fathers who seek custody of their children are doing it to protect and care for their children. That’s the message that RADAR wants to get out, because that’s the truth.

On Monday, January 9, RADAR sent a press release to over 10,000 media outlets – shown below. We want the truth to get out.

But what about the PBS affiliates? That’s where you come in.

This week we are asking you to e-mail RADAR’s press release to your local PBS affiliate. And if you can, send it to other media contacts.

Because the truth needs to get out. It’s in our hands.

Today, please take these steps:

1.      Go to http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html and enter your zip code to get the web address for your local PBS affiliate.

2.      E-mail the attached Press Release to the PBS contact listed on their webpage.

3.      Forward the Press Release to any other media or other contacts you may have.


Ombudsman Slams Documentary, Despite PBS Whitewash


January 9, 2006

Contact: Mark B. Rosenthal


WASHINGTON – Ombudsman Ken Bode has charged PBS with violating its own editorial standards in airing the program, Breaking the Silence. In his January 4 report, Bode concluded, “I found the program to be so totally unbalanced as to fall outside the boundaries of PBS editorial standards on fairness and balance.” [http://www.cpb.org/ombudsmen/060104bode.html]

In a previous statement, Bode, who works as ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, criticized producer Dominique Lasseur for not interviewing any fathers for the program: “Simply put, that amounts to a plea of guilty to violating the fairness and balance standards of PBS.”

Since its broadcast on October 20, Breaking the Silence has generated a firestorm of controversy for the Public Broadcasting Service. The program, which probes the issues of child abuse and child custody, triggered thousands of protests from viewers who deplored the inaccurate and one-sided presentation of the issues.

On December 21, PBS re-affirmed its support for producer Dominique Lasseur, saying he “approached the topic with the open mindedness and commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists.”

Many viewed the PBS statement as a less than candid acknowledgement of the program’s shortcomings. Bode suggests PBS’ failure to admit bias and retract the program may be due to “the possibility of litigation.”

“We encourage PBS affiliates to carefully consider Mr. Bode’s latest critique in their decision whether to air Breaking the Silence,” notes RADAR member Gordon Finley. “Neither the best interests of children or the public are well-served by one-sided, misleading programming.”

Bode’s January 4 report was his third statement highly critical of the PBS documentary. His previous reports were issued on November 29 and December 19. Additional analyses and critiques of Breaking the Silence can be found at http://www.mediaradar.org/.


Date of RADAR Release: January 9, 2005

R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a network of concerned men and women working to assure that the problem of domestic violence is treated in a balanced and effective manner: http://www.mediaradar.org/

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E-Mail (Score:1)
by Davidadelong on 09:01 AM January 9th, 2006 EST (#1)
I e-mailed OPB this AM. Thanks for the link, and the info.
Re:E-Mail (Score:1)
by Thundercloud on 11:37 AM January 9th, 2006 EST (#2)
I wish I'd gotten to see that on their "News Hour".
But I rarely watch PBS, for the obvious reasons.
Let's keep the pressure on these jokers.
Give 'em Hell, and make 'em PAY!

  "Hoka hey!"
Mainstream media is M.I.A. (Score:1)
by Thundercloud on 11:43 AM January 9th, 2006 EST (#3)
You know this controversy is fairly BIG.
Where is the news media, on this? I haven't seen or heard even ONE report about this anywhere, except here.

  "Hoka hey!"
The producers of BTS E-Mail address (Score:1)
by Davidadelong on 08:35 PM January 10th, 2006 EST (#4)
Oregon Public Broadcasting e-mailed me back and gave me the e-mail address of the producers of BTS. Here it is Folks...........
tatgeprod@tatgeprod.com. It works as I have e-mailed them, and I am awaiting a response. PLEASE do the same.
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