Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Yes, war is heck!

I didn't bother to watch Tuesday's "Frontline" report on PBS about U.S. troops fighting in Iraq; we were out seeing "Million Dollar Baby" and in any case, I'd been put off by all the reports of PBS interference in the report. As a Los Angeles Times editorial notes:
    Fearful of being hit with stiff FCC indecency fines, the nonprofit PBS distributed a censored copy of a report chronicling U.S. soldiers charged with keeping Iraq's main highway open.The crew of "Frontline" showed a small group of soldiers who did their best under tough conditions, and who reacted in entirely human ways when their lives were threatened by the enemy. But some viewers, including those who watched on Los Angeles station KCET, saw the censored version of the report, which presented the remarkable fiction of soldiers in battle watching their language.
The worst part is that even the LA public broadcaster, KCET - one of PBS's flagship stations - backed down and showed the neutered version that PBS sent out as the default broadcast. (I don't know which version Rochester's WXXI showed, but I'd bet my next payroll deduction for Social Security it was the neutered version.) I'm getting really tired of conservative assaults on the broadcast media, in the name of "indecency" regulation. It's particularly galling during a time of war. I've always been a firm believer that if a country decides to go to war, the media ought, as a public duty, to show that war in all its gory detail, so that the electorate can see first hand what is being done in its name. But now we can't even see U.S. troops being pottymouths! If only Americans knew of the image of U.S. forces being beamed around the rest of the world. But I think many actually prefer the sanitized version they get by this country's media. Beyond the war, "Frontline" is the latest casualty in a broader war of censorship on the airwaves; and after the PBS's craven backdown over the recent "Postcards from Buster" incident, I'm afraid it looks like public television has pretty much thrown in the towel.

Apparently some broadcasters are considering a court challenge to the FCC's indecency rules. I wonder if anny of these broadcasters will be from PBS?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sarge? That young Iraqi gentleman appears to be aiming his nasty RPG luancher at our convoy."

"Well, then let's get the blazes out of here, with all deliberate speed, soldier!"


2/23/2005 10:18 AM  

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