January 9, 2006
Contact: Mark B. Rosenthal, <>
Ombudsman Slams Documentary, Despite PBS Whitewash
Washington, DC – Ombudsman Ken Bode has charged PBS with violating its own
editorial standards in airing the program, Breaking the Silence. In his
January 4 report, Bode concluded, "I found the program to be so totally
unbalanced as to fall outside the boundaries of PBS editorial standards
on fairness and balance." [http://www.cpb.org/ombudsmen/060104bode.html]
In a previous statement, Bode, who works as ombudsman for the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, criticized producer Dominique
Lasseur for not interviewing any fathers for the program: "Simply put,
that amounts to a plea of guilty to violating the fairness and balance
standards of PBS."
Since its broadcast on October 20, Breaking the Silence has generated a
firestorm of controversy for the Public Broadcasting Service. The
program, which probes the issues of child abuse and child custody,
triggered thousands of protests from viewers who deplored the inaccurate
and one-sided presentation of the issues.
On December 21, PBS re-affirmed its support for producer Dominique
Lasseur, saying he "approached the topic with the open mindedness and
commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists."
Many viewed the PBS statement as a less than candid acknowledgement of
the program's shortcomings. Bode suggests PBS' failure to admit bias and
retract the program may be due to "the possibility of litigation."
"We encourage PBS affiliates to carefully consider Mr. Bode's latest
critique in their decision whether to air Breaking the Silence," notes
RADAR member Gordon Finley. "Neither the best interests of children or
the public are well-served by one-sided, misleading programming."
Bode's January 4 report was his third statement highly critical of the
PBS documentary. His previous reports were issued on November 29 and
December 19. Additional analyses and critiques of Breaking the Silence
can be found at http://www.mediaradar.org.
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org.
- 30 -