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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 10, 2010

PBS IN FINAL TALKS WITH CRUMMY CONSERVATIVE JOURNALIST TO REPLACE BILL MOYERS

FAIR - PBS is reportedly in final talks with Newsweek editor Jon Meacham to be co-host of its forthcoming Need to Know program. Meacham's consideration for a show that would replace hard-hitting independent programs Now and the Bill Moyers Journal sends a clear and troubling message about PBS's priorities.

Meacham is a fixture on commercial pundit shows in addition to his Newsweek duties. In these venues, he is a consummate purveyor of middle-of-the-road conventional wisdom with a conservative slant. After the 2008 election, Meacham authored an article on America as a "center-right nation"--a conclusion based on dubious historical analogies (Sarah Palin is a kind of Thomas Jefferson) and cherry-picking national election results, casting aside evidence that would undermine the conclusion.

He recently cheered on a Dick Cheney presidential run as "good for the Republicans and good for the country." Meacham had just months earlier argued that any critical investigations into the Bush/Cheney record on torture would be pointless ("the rough equivalent of pornography," as he put it).

Meacham's approach to journalism seems to be antithetical to the hard-hitting approach of Moyers and Now; he's called on journalists to "cover other institutions as you would want to be covered," with "charity and dignity and respect". This Golden Rule approach to news was illustrated when he intervened in a Newsweek online story about Joe Scarborough, a personal friend who often invites Meacham on his cable show, to remove from the lead the fact that Scarborough had served as the defense attorney for the murderer of an abortion provider.

Of course, some sources get more than their share "charity, dignity and respect," as when Meacham remarked about interviewing Rev. Billy Graham: "It was amazing. I went in and I realized this is what God probably was going to look like. The white hair, the blue eyes, he'll have a Southern accent, that's the way it should be, I think."


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