PBS affiliate WNET TV is very proud of "Torturing Democracy," a documentary crafted by a Frontline producer and deemed "flawlessly journalistic" by the New York station's VP for content. But the show makes PBS suits a little, well, uncomfortable. According to the Times, they asked the producer if that provocative name couldn't be changed, and maybe a panel discussion tacked on, oh and also they wouldn't be able to air it until the day after George W. Bush leaves the White House. You see there's an animated sitcom called “Click & Clack’s As the Wrench Turns” that had higher priority, plus you can't air a documentary like this during the Olympics, so the summer was right out. As was the fall, apparently. Or so says PBS VP John Wilson (pictured), as he undermines the program:
PBS executives also asked Ms. Jones to make changes to the film, including adding the panel discussion. By the time that happened, the fall schedule was set, said John Wilson, the PBS senior vice president for programming. He called the film “ultimately an impressive work of journalism,” and said, “our goal was to have it in a good slot.” That the first date offered happened to be the day after the Bush administration is to leave power “absolutely is coincidental,” he said. “It was the date that offered itself up.”
Ha ha, the show was "ultimately" good journalism, after some real journalists cleaned up the biased dreck that producer Sherry Jones turned in, right John? If this is just another one of those internecine conflicts endemic to nonprofit journalism, it's sure doing a good job disguising itself as a genuine scandal.
The silver lining here is that WNET has independently placed the show on various PBS affiliates, reaching markets with close to 85 percent of U.S. viewers. Many of them will have the opportunity to watch this documentary before the election. Many, also, will be boning up on DVDs of Fox torture-porn serial 24 ahead of the new season that night, or watching one of those incredible Fox News specials, but at least the option will be there!