holding the media accountable

Here’s an email I just got back from PBS in regards to an email I sent them. I was alerted by media matters that PBS was going to have a right winger (Frank Lutz) hosting the discussion after the democratic debate. This guy is one of the original writers on Newt Gingrich’s “Contract on America” I think they called it “contract with america” but my version is more accurate i think. anyway, they got a ton of calls and emails on this from angry folks like me. thank you david brock and mediamatters.org for keeping us posted. after the letter i got from pbs, i got an email update from media matters on what’s happening with this…

Thank you for contacting PBS. We greatly appreciate your interest in our programming. Like you, PBS recognizes the importance of an informed and engaged citizenry.

The “All-American Presidential Forums,” which are moderated by Tavis Smiley, is an historic broadcast marking the first time that a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color will be represented in primetime.

Mr. Smiley, along with journalists Michel Martin of National Public Radio, nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. and USA Today and Gannett News Service columnist DeWayne Wickham, will question candidates on issues ranging from healthcare and housing to Katrina relief, the economy and the environment, among others.

PBS is proud to offer a live broadcast of this event, which is the first major opportunity for the candidates to present a detailed discourse and dialogue on their social agendas.

Regarding your concerns about Dr. Luntz, I would like to clarify that he is not participating in the forum itself or in the live broadcast of the event. Rather, Dr. Luntz was selected by Mr. Smiley to obtain on-the-spot feedback from a group of everyday citizens who will be watching the forum live at Howard University.

Dr. Luntz will appear as a guest on Mr. Smiley’s regularly scheduled program on Friday evening, accompanied by the 30 people who participated in the Instant Response focus group to discuss the results of the study. We have full confidence in Mr. Smiley’s abilities to produce an intelligent, thought-provoking program and in his skills as an interviewer.

I hope you will watch the “All-American Forum” this evening and tune into the second forum for Republican candidates, which is scheduled to air in September.

Sincerely,

PBS Viewer Services

June 27, 2007

Action Alert

Take Action Today!

Tavis Smiley Show
4401 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
323-666-6500

Neal Kendall
Executive Producer
nkendall@kcet.org

When contacting the media, please be polite and professional. Express your specific concerns regarding that particular news report or commentary, and be sure to indicate exactly what you would like the media outlet to do differently in the future.

Making Progress on the PBS Democratic Forum!
Dear Friend:

After days of your calls and emails, you have made an impact!

This morning Neal Kendall, executive producer of PBS’ Tavis Smiley, released a statement responding to concerns regarding the announced involvement of discredited Republican pollster Frank Luntz in PBS’ upcoming forum for Democratic presidential candidates. According to the statement, Frank Luntz is “not appearing” on PBS’ Thursday night programming but is still scheduled to appear on Tavis Smiley the next day to discuss the results of his focus group.

While I am pleased with PBS’ announcement that Luntz will not be appearing Thursday, it has yet to address the fundamental problem with its choice of Luntz to participate in analysis of the PBS forum. I urge you to contact the Tavis Smiley program and voice your concerns today!

>> Take Action Today!

Luntz’s Republican ties, his history of being criticized by his peers for misrepresenting polling data, and his past personal and professional affiliation with GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani make him an inappropriate choice to provide the sole voice of expert focus group analysis on Mr. Smiley’s program in the wake of a Democratic presidential primary forum. The fact that PBS has not acknowledged Luntz’s partisan affiliation — either in its original press release or in today’s statement — makes PBS’ use of him in this way all the more troubling.

Viewers of the Tavis Smiley program clearly deserve a balanced discussion of the previous night’s Democratic forum and would benefit from the analysis of a polling expert beyond reproach, one without a clear conflict of interest and a questionable record. At the very least, PBS and Tavis Smiley have a responsibility to disclose Luntz’s Republican ties and his former affiliation with Giuliani.

>> Take Action Today!

It is my sincere hope that the Tavis Smiley program and PBS will reconsider their decision to have Luntz provide solo focus group analysis on Smiley’s Friday program and recognize their responsibility to the viewing public to fully disclose Luntz’s partisan ties, conflict of interest, and controversial record on the air during Friday’s broadcast.

By using the contact information above and letting your concerns be heard, you can help the Tavis Smiley program to reconsider its irresponsible decision to use an inappropriate pollster such as Frank Luntz.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

David Brock,
President and CEO
Media Matters for America

© 2007 Media Matters for America
1625 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20036

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