PBS Ombudsman on Bill Moyers/Impeachment

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I am apparently one of the very few people who agrees with the PBS Ombudsman that Bill Moyers recent broadcast about impeachment was not properly informative by virtue of leaving out many arguments against impeachment.

My first letter is printed there. I followed this up with another letter, included below. Getler responded, "Thanks, again, for another useful observation."

Bill Moyers is right that a substantial part of the country has indicated they would like to see impeachment of one or both elected executives. This is why it even more important to give them the arguments against impeachment, so they can know the drawbacks. If they continue to support impeachment, that's fine, as I am not interested in convincing anyone, but informing them: an opinion unchallenged isn't worth anything. As Proverbs says, "The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him."

I am not asking for "balance." What I want is for the audience to be truly well-informed. If there were no reasonable arguments against impeachment, or if all the arguments on that side were well-known, I wouldn't say to put opposition up merely for the sake of having "both sides." But, of course, that isn't the case here. Even if the opposition response in this case were just an opportunity to come on after the fact and rebut some of the claims, rather than having equal time, that would have been useful and served the purpose of informing the public.

Moyers is basically contradicting himself. Implicit in his mission is that he wants to inform the public, which assumes they do not know all the arguments for impeachment (else why bother?). It also assumes they do not know all the arguments *against* impeachment. And he obviously doesn't care if they ever find out what those arguments are -- at least, not until impeachment becomes more of a "story" -- which means he really isn't interested in informing his audience, but is attempting to push his preferred course of action: impeachment.

He speaks of not being an "echo" of other broadcasting, but an alternative. He also says that merely half of Americans want Cheney or Bush impeached, yet the response to his broadcast was positive by a ratio of 20:1. This seems to suggest that, indeed, he is indeed being an echo. He should strive for more than that.

Mr. Getler, thank you for holding his feet to the fire, even if he comes away essentially unsinged.

Note also that the CPB is required by federal law to fund programs that provide balanced coverage ("strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature,"), and despite protestations to the contrary, Moyers often is not balanced (that he attacked the CPB chairman for attempting to do his federally mandated job is odd).

However, his current show apparently is not funded by the CPB, so there's no conflict there. But I do find it interesting that Moyers used to complain that he was balanced, when the CPB was criticizing him; but now that he is not required to be balanced, he is arguing that balance is a myth. slashdot.org

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