- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Critiquing the critic

Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik hated NBC’s “The Wanted,” a reality-based crime show that tracks down international terrorists. He hated it so much he fired off five different blog posts on his paper’s Web site, including one calling it “the poster child for everything that is wrong with network TV news today.”

It wasn’t until nine paragraphs into Mr. Zurawik’s first blog about “The Wanted” that he revealed he works part time as a media professor at Baltimore’s Goucher College, which the show’s producers had targeted last year. They had come to campus to tape an episode about Leopold Munyakazi, a French teacher who is wanted by Rwanda on genocide charges.

Although that episode has not aired, the questions it raised about Mr. Munyakazi’s past helped convince Goucher officials to remove him from the classroom though he continues to reside in campus housing, an eyebrow-raising perk “The Wanted” producers wanted to discuss on their program. Mr. Munyakazi now is under house arrest, the college says, for overstaying his U.S. visa.

“To quote the parents and students we’ve spoken to: ‘At what point in time did school administrators start putting their own public image ahead of students’ well-being?’ ” said executive producer Charlie Ebersol.

But the Sun critic said the network shouldn’t be in the business of deciding who is a terrorist or not.

“After watching the premiere of NBC’s The Wanted on Monday night, I could not help but wonder if there is anyone left in management at NBC News who still has a journalistic bone in his or her body,” he wrote at his “Z on TV” blog. In another item, he said it was a “self-important, silly and reckless production featuring a so-called elite team that tracks down alleged terrorists and war criminals who are (cue the scary music) ‘living among us.’ ”

He mentioned his relationship with Goucher three times in his five different items about the show, saying it was “possibly relevant.” In his final post, he said the possibility of any conflict of interest was “slight and improbable.”

Three of the blogs were written in a single day, and Mr. Zurawik maintains he fully disclosed his ties to Goucher by mentioning his employment with the school each day he wrote about the show, and he says it did not influence his opinion of the program.

“I thought it was an awful show; it’s dishonest,” he told The Washington Times.

“The Wanted” producers aren’t buying it.

“It’s ironic a man who purports to be an expert on journalistic ethics tiptoes around his own ethical conflict and writes piece after piece targeting a show he knows full well has focused on the activities of one of his employers,” Mr. Ebersol said. “The most he has conceded is that his employment at Goucher might be relevant.”

At this point, it remains unclear whether the Goucher episode will ever be shown. NBC only has committed to airing two episodes of “The Wanted” over its summer season and has not announced any more upcoming episodes.

And that makes Mr. Zurawik happy. “One can only hope it’s gone for good,” he wrote on his blog.

‘Young Cons’ back

The Dartmouth College rap duo that goes by “Young Cons” is at it again.

Joshua “Stiltz” Riddle and David “Serious C” Rufful performed their second song espousing the principles of Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan and Jesus Christ last weekend at a Staten Island “Tea Party” protest after releasing it on YouTube.

Their first song, “The Anthem” contained catchy and amusing lines such as: “My conservative view is ‘drill baby drill’ / You can say you hate me, but I’m praying for you still.”

Their hard-line, yet fun, conservative spirit is evident again in their latest song, “Power of the Individual,” which blasts the increasing size of government. Their chorus is: “Robbing our ability and right is disastrous, / Up against the dubious, consider us your catalyst, / If conservatives are dead, we’re about to pull a Lazarus, / We’re motivated, educated, dedicated capitalists.”

“Power of the individual has been the driving force of our country for the last 250 years, and lately it seems individuals are portrayed as victims in a society that is moving towards collectivism at a frightening rate,” Mr. Riddle told The Washington Times. “We wanted to remind people how our country was able to become the superpower it is today, and hopefully inspire the younger generation to realize they are in control of their own destiny.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.

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