Tuesday, November 25, 2003

PBS is Now Fair and Balanced


When "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" invited author Michael Wolff on the program, his reputation as a scathing media critic was hardly a secret. Wolff, a columnist for New York magazine, was peddling his new book, "Autumn of the Moguls," which describes said moguls in personal and rather unflattering terms.

But the PBS program abruptly killed the taped interview Friday, a week after it was recorded.

"It doesn't make any sense," Wolff said yesterday. "You invite an author on, he's going to give you the view he wrote about." He said that "these guys must be super-sensitive" that his remarks would "annoy" powerful media executives such as Sumner Redstone, Michael Eisner, Barry Diller, Mel Karmazin and Rupert Murdoch.

Les Crystal, the program's executive producer, dismissed Wolff's criticism. "We did the interview, we looked at it and felt it was unbalanced, and decided not to run it," he said.

Crystal acknowledged that other authors have "expressed strong points of view" on the show. But in the case of the Wolff interview, "we didn't think it was fair and balanced."

The interview was conducted by "NewsHour" media correspondent Terence Smith, who called the decision "an internal matter" and referred questions to Crystal.

You know what to do:

1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-739-5000
Fax: 703-739-8458

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: newshour@pbs.org

... here's Wolff's response.