I recently sent an e-mail to the Ombudsman of PBS, asking him why PBS would not air the film "Islam vs. Islamists". Several people have viewed the finished product, and think it is not only very pertinent but also very professionally done. My correspondence said:
I recently found out that PBS will not be showing the film "Islam vs. Islamists" as part of the "America at a Crossroads" series. Islam vs. Islamists would make a unique contribution to our understanding of Islam--something that no other episodes that have been included in the series would tell--by showing that there are many Muslims who support democracy and liberty. With whom do I correspond to express my displeasure at the fact that "Islam vs. Islamists" has been spiked?
I heard guest Martin Burke on The Right Balance this morning explaining the motivations behind PBS' spiking of the film. The producers and advocates of "Islam vs Islamists" has started a website called FreeTheFilm.net. Instead of providing a balanced view of moderate vs. radical Islam, PBS included in its "America at the Crossroads" lineup a film produced by PBS own Robert MacNeil. Instead of illustrating the divide between moderates and radicals, MacNeil's is essentially a hit piece that praises the radical facets of Islam and denigrates America in the process. Several members of Congress have requested that, because it is so balanced, PBS air the documentary. The likelihood of that is very slim. And more problematically, PBS owns the broadcasting rights. For now, you can download the movie trailer, and request a copy of the DVD (should it ever become available, PBS?) on FreeTheFilm.net.
By the way, the PBS Ombudsman's response to my e-mail was the following:
Dear Mr. Staheli:From dictionary.com, the definition of Ombudsman is:
Thank you for writing to PBS regarding your concerns about "Islam vs.
the Islamists." We welcome the opportunity to clarify that this film,
along with others, is still in the production and editing process.
"Islam vs. the Islamists" was developed as part of the AMERICA AT A
CROSSROADS initiative, a competitive grant project created to explore
our post-9/11 world. The film was chosen to move forward in the
production process because it offers an important examination of a
complex topic. The programming teams at WETA, the series' presenting
station, and PBS have asked the film's producers to meet our
editorial standards, which is a requirement for all the content that
is presented on our schedule. These standards are posted on our Web site at:
The PBS programming staff, in collaboration with the independent
producers who partner with us, works very hard to ensure that all the
programs it distributes to public television stations meet high
standards of quality and journalistic excellence. This commitment
accounts for PBS' extraordinary track record in Emmy, DuPont
Columbia, and Peabody awards as well as PBS' long-standing position
as the most trusted public institution in America.
We look forward to continuing to work with the producers on the
development of this documentary. Other films that were not completed
in time for the April 15 premier are currently being scheduled to air
later this year. It is our hope that we will be able to add "Islam
vs. the Islamists" to this list.
Again, thank you for writing to PBS. We appreciate your concern for
PBS Viewer Services
A person who regurgitates the party line when receiving complaints from outside entities.
No...actually, I was sort of kidding. The real definition is this:
A person who investigates and attempts to resolve complaints and problems, as between employees and an employer or between students and a university.
Maybe PBS needs to get a new ombudsman.