- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Demonized dads

“[T]he Public Broadcasting Service documentary, ‘Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories’ … claimed that male batterers and child abusers frequently gain custody of their children in divorce cases after the mothers’ claims of abuse are disbelieved by the courts. The film caused an outcry from fathers’ rights groups. In response to these protests, PBS announced a 30-day review to determine whether the film met the editorial guidelines for fairness and accuracy.

“Unfortunately, it seems that the review amounted to little more than a whitewash.

“On Dec. 21, PBS issued a statement acknowledging that the film ‘would have benefited from more in-depth treatment of the complex issues,’ but also concluded that ‘the producers approached the topic with the open-mindedness and commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists’ and that the program’s claims were supported by ‘extensive’ research.”

— Cathy Young, writing on “Maligning Fathers,” Sunday in the Boston Globe

Broadcasting birth

“There is a memorable entry in William Shirer’s ‘Berlin Diary’ in which he describes … the birth of broadcast journalism. It was Sunday, March 13, 1938, the day after Nazi troops entered Austria. Shirer, in London, got a call from CBS headquarters, in New York, asking him to put together a broadcast in which radio correspondents in the major capitals of Europe, led by Shirer’s boss, Edward R. Murrow, who was on the scene in Vienna, would offer a series of live reports on Hitler’s move and the reaction to it.

“Shirer had to overcome two problems: CBS had no staff in Europe except Murrow and himself, so he had to find newspaper reporters in Berlin, Paris, and Rome; and then he had to line up shortwave transmitters that could carry the reporters’ voices to the United States. Somehow, he and Murrow pulled it off. …

“When Murrow returned to the United States for a home leave in the fall of 1941, at the age of 33, he was more famous and celebrated than any journalist could be today. A crowd of fans and reporters met his ship at the dock. … Franklin Roosevelt sent a congratulatory telegram to be read aloud.”

— Nicholas Lemann, writing on “The Murrow Doctrine,” in the Jan. 23 issue of the New Yorker

Osama’s crisis

“I once hypothesized that Osama bin Laden might be dead. The induction went like this: Proof of life is easy to furnish, but some of the tapes allegedly showing him could easily have been cobbled from earlier releases. Ergo, it mattered to al Qaeda to demonstrate that he was alive. Yet they lacked the ability to demonstrate it. …

“This reasoning proved inadequate when he popped up during the last U.S. election and made a series of contemporary references, mainly … drawn from Michael Moore’s dreadful ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’ And we are now assured that the latest audiotape delivered to Al Jazeera has been authenticated also. If we suppose this to be true, then it nonetheless seems to be further evidence that al Qaeda is … facing a very serious crisis. …

“We keep hearing that this is a war, which by any definition it is. Well, you can’t expect a war without casualties. But it just could be that these threats are a sign of desperation. … The only alternative is the unthinkable one of suing for terms, while we should be determined that — as already seems possible — it is the enemy that does that.”

— Christopher Hitchens, writing on “Al Qaeda Is Losing,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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