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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.

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