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The Ombudsman Column

Carried Away?

If you are a devoted viewer of PBS, it was hard to miss endless shots of Navy jets taking off and landing on the deck of the USS Nimitz last week, part of a highly-promoted and, indeed, tantalizing series called "Carrier." It filled 10 prime-time hours; two hours a night from Sunday through Thursday. It stirred lots of viewers to write to our office with their reactions.

A few days later, on Monday night, the first of what I thought was an excellent two-part "American Experience" series on the 41st U.S. President, George H. W. Bush, was aired. It opened with a segment on Bush as a 19-year-old Navy pilot — the youngest in the Navy at the time — during World War II being shot down while dive bombing a Japanese-occupied island in the Pacific and being rescued at sea by an American submarine patrolling for downed aviators.

Then, of course, there was the continuing drama of the Democratic nomination battle on the NewsHour each night, with always a line or two (PBS is nothing if not fair) about John McCain campaigning unopposed back there somewhere in the shadows. The media spotlight will eventually return to McCain and will, among other things, remind people that he, too, was a naval aviator shot down during a later war in the Pacific who also lived to fight on in other ways.

These observations actually have nothing in common except in my head, where one's own life experiences tend to connect stray dots at certain moments. So it struck me that this was an interesting week of reminders about the highly-focused job skills surrounding naval aviation, something that very few Americans have any connection with anymore but that has yielded one recent president, helped shaped a current candidate for the presidency, and was hard to miss as a fairly riveting, reality show-soap opera for five days running on PBS.

This is another of those occasionally very long combination column/mailbags. That's because there were lots of viewer letters and opinions about "Carrier," and a sizeable, representative sample is printed below. And there was lots more mail about last week's column and the continuing controversy over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his interview with Bill Moyers. Many of those letters follow as well.

But first, a few words about "Carrier."

The Camera on the Carrier

Despite its length, it appears that lots of people stuck with Carrier through its six-month cruise from the West Coast to the Persian Gulf, and through its 10-hour run on PBS. Officials here say viewership for the series was about 15 percent above the prime-time average for PBS. And there have been scores of print and online reviews of this program all over the country, so I'm not going to add another one.

Rather, I offer some personal observations as someone who spent 1957-'59 as a lieutenant junior grade in a detachment of single-engine, propeller-driven, AD5W carrier-based airborne early warning planes aboard the USS Forrestal. We would go aboard whenever that ship (never, ever called a "boat" in those days as everyone seems to do in "Carrier") went to sea. Our job was to fly hundreds of miles ahead of the task force and use our then-high tech radar to spot "enemy" planes and submarines. It was peacetime, and exciting for a young officer. The Forrestal, then a mighty super-carrier, has long since been mothballed, sort of like a lot of us from that era.

I should say at the start that I very much liked "Carrier" and thought it provided a rare and candid look inside something that we think we know about but really don't. Several of the letters below are critical and several of the letter-writers saw it as military propaganda. I didn't. Indeed, there clearly are several scenes and comments involving crewmembers, and even one or two officers, that can't please the Navy. And if you are among those who understand how many tens of billions it costs to build and deploy these carrier task forces — which involve far more ships than just the carriers — and have doubts about their value in today's environment, this series gives you some ammunition. Nimitz pilots fly incessantly but they are not called upon for any firepower in support of the fighting in Iraq, which is overwhelmingly an Army and Marine Corps ground war against an insurgency.

When I first saw the PBS promotion for this series months ago I wondered why do a documentary on aircraft carriers, which have been around for more than half a century and featured in dozens of movies. But this is different. This is the real thing, pimples and all. No narrator. Just voices and scenes aboard a floating city of 5,000 people, average age — 19.

It reminded me, in a way, of another PBS documentary two years ago called "Texas Ranch House" that was a recreation of frontier life in 1867, in which a real family, not actors, have microphones strapped to them for several weeks. I never thought I would watch all eight hours of that but it turned out that the subjects eventually forget about the microphones and deliver raw, revealing narratives. As it also turned out, the director of "Carrier," Maro Chermayeff, was also involved with the earlier "Frontier House," from that same living history/reality series. Along with the excitement, "Carrier" has its down moments, several of them, actually, when it is boring and repetitive and when you feel as though you've seen enough. Yet carrier operations are like that, too, mixtures of extraordinary intensity and routine. But to me, at least, there was something unmistakably human, intimate, compelling — and rare — about this series and the people in it that draws you to it night after night.

The Nimitz looks very much like the Forrestal. Yet inside, it is strikingly more diverse. Fifty years ago, there were no women crew members, let alone fighter pilots. There were relatively few black enlisted men on board, and even fewer officers. The military draft was in place and so there were a number of college-educated young men from all over the country in the enlisted ranks. And it appears to operate very safely. It was not unusual in my day to have pilots and crewmembers killed in accidents during intense exercises at sea. But that didn't seem to happen during the Nimitz deployment. The enlisted sailors who keep the Nimitz running and the planes flying also seem to be much more at ease speaking their mind. It is hard to imagine that 50 years ago. Yet the work they do and the way they do it is the same; unbelievably tough and frequently dangerous. The flight deck remains an extraordinary ballet of amazing 18-year-olds, many from very difficult childhood environments who found stability in the Navy, doing difficult things with considerable precision that their lives, and those of their shipmates, depend upon.

Launch the Letters

The "Carrier" series was awesome! I watched from beginning to end; it was engrossing, informative, enlightening, sad, and funny. I had earlier read a review with some less than flattering comments, but when I read that Chris Altice from my town, Manassas, VA, was spotlighted, I had to tune in. I'm glad I did — all the episodes gave me new food for thought. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Manassas, VA

I have never been so drawn to watch a show as this one. I became addicted to it within 5 minutes. I served 2 years in the US NAVY and I miss that dearly! Thank you for flooding my brain with memories that I will cherish for a lifetime!

Robin Stephens, Acworth, GA

This is in response to the series "Carrier." The whole series looked like Navy recruitment videos. It was propaganda, but not very informative.

A. Velasquez, El Paso, TX

Carrier — I expected a show about carrier operations. Instead, I get a show that interviews the 'carrier rats.' Just 'loved' the parts about — "Oh yes, we have a lot of homos and lezzies on board. We are not supposed to get involved with physical relationships, but nobody is going to tell me how to run my life." Nobody is going to tell me?? Too many young, immature & recalcitrant jerks within our military nowadays!!

WEO, East Orange, NJ
USAF veteran

I just want to send a very huge compliment in regard to the "Carrier" series that is now showing about the men and women in our U.S. naval branch of the military. This is one of the best series that I have ever seen. It is very well put together and very meaningful. I don't even know if a movie production put together by legends of the big screen could out do the profiles and depiction of these real live people and what they face everyday.

Austin, TX

Being a Navy veteran, I was disappointed in what the show "Carrier" presented, or what they didn't present. There was practically nothing related to the support activities of not only the air group, but also the running of the ship itself — i.e., maintenance of aircraft and/or ship, recreation facilities, ships store, other support shops, sick bay, print shop, Ge-Dunk, etc., etc. Too much attention paid to personal problems, gripes, etc. Those are not peculiar to a carrier, but all ships. The quality of the filming, however, was fine, but . . . way too much for one week — disrupts daily routine.

G. David Germeyer, Dillsburg, PA

It is crystal clear to me that the pseudo-documentary "Carrier" is nothing more than recruitment propaganda for the military. We have had to endure endless hours of this justification for war which is broadcast continually during prime time and even throughout the night. It seems to have been carefully coordinated for broadcast just when Gates is sending another carrier to the Middle East to justify a possible attack on Iran. While I support those serving in the military, this type of glorification of the military as a "family or fraternity" does not match the lack of support for the veterans coming back from war. Mel Gibson is the producer of this series so it is no wonder that it presents the military as "cool and patriotic". If PBS continues to broadcast pro-military programs another unjustified war could actually happen, only this time it will be nuclear.

J Hirschinger, Loomis, CA

Re: Carrier. War is about killing. War kills people; war kills towns and countries. This fact remains no matter how magnificently you portray our military heroes or how miraculous the technology. The PBS series did an excellent job of showing our military might and the valor of our service people. Because we can, PBS appears to be saying we should go to war with (Iran), with or without just cause. Go team! Rah, rah, rah!

Carol Seideman, Boulder, CO

A Ten-Hour Talkfest

Carrier — wow, what a disappointment . . . a ten hour talk fest! Next time, how about half on the ship and half talk, but make the talk relevant. Regardless of the Navy's approval, I can assure you, as a former carrier sailor, that the series does not represent what a tour on one of those ships is really like. Sorry, a carrier just doesn't run on self-centered drivel any more than PBS does. The series is clearly nothing more than an attempt to lure reality show viewers to PBS and increase station revenue shares from CPB. Overall, a great disservice to the men and women, who actually put their lives on the line, in all of the armed forces and a disgrace for PBS.

JPA, New York, NY

First, let me say that my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Carrier. For sure, there were areas that often repeated themselves; but all in all, this very ambitious endeavor deserves an "A" in our rating scale.

Kenneth Cahill, North Kingstown, RI

I, a financial supporter or PBS, am disgusted by the PBS series "Carrier". Why is the last vestige of rational American journalism presenting such a single-minded militaristic viewpoint? Is this what PBS is all about? Is this what PBS supports? Is this a balanced and international viewpoint presentation of what America should stand for? Is this lifestyle and worldview what young Americans should strive to emulate? Navy? Marines? Military Industrial Complex. Unfocused youth. Confused foreign policy. You've lost a lover of the old PBS.

Paul Bhorjee, Bethesda, MD

This is not the kind of programming I would choose to support. While it was interesting, engaging and like watching a soap opera, or reality TV as a Salon.com reviewer suggested. To me, it was ultimately propaganda for the Navy. If this boat is part of Iraqi Freedom, then show us Iraq. Show us what war really looks like. Show us our soldiers injured, dying, being transported back home in body bags. Show us the crying, terrified children, whose parents have been killed, whose homes are blown up, whose families are torn apart. Show us the largest immigrant crisis in the world, caused by the US invasion of Iraq. Show us what war really looks like. Carrier missed the mark and sank under the weight of its own message.

Cynthia Smith, Portland, OR

My family and I have enjoyed the series Carrier so much. It is a brilliant show and I will be sad to have it end. It is entertaining and informative, and from the opening moments, so very engaging. It is wonderful.

B. Rose, Stratton, ME

Boringggg . . . "Carrier". Please, how many times do we have to watch jets take off and land on the carrier Nimitz? 10 hours? Almost as bad as Burns' "The War: An Intimate History" and that was 14 hours. Are producers familiar with the words parsimony or brevity? The bulk of the program was listening to the crew complain. We saw abuse of authority and control and manipulation dispersed in the name of navel protocol. It almost looked like a last ditch effort to save America's youth from drugs, alcohol, poor home environment, abuse — not a bad thing I guess. Overall . . . a long recruitment commercial.

David Petersen, Kansas City, MO

I am absolutely appalled by the so-called documentary program CARRIER currently airing on PBS. This is a piece of PROPAGANDA which is absolutely unworthy of PBS. I cannot imagine that anyone could begin to consider this program as remotely unbiased or journalistic in any way. Having watched 8 full episodes of the show, it is not at all what I expected from PBS. There is no information about how aircraft carriers actually operate, no factual or historical information, no information at all which is not obviously slanted and biased opinion. When I tune in to PBS, I am looking for a higher quality program than I can find on other networks. If I want to ponder the sex lives of Naval Personnel or their Religious beliefs — not to mention their plebian political views — I can tune in to any other reality TV program around. CARRIER is a program you would expect to see on MTV, not PBS!!! This is not journalism, this is not a documentary, this is jingoistic rubbish unworthy of PBS!!!

Loveland, OH

. . . and a Soap Opera

PBS had the opportunity to make a great documentary about life and work in the USN (I'm a Navy Vet), but turned it into a lousy soap opera instead. After beginning to watch each of the first two episodes, I turned it off mid-program. Come on, PBS, you can do a lot better than that.

Medford, OR

A program about war and military service should not be presented as a music video. This offends not only my tastes, but also makes me inclined to think that I am watching some sort of propaganda. I hope that PBS does not continue to copy commercial television techniques. Frankly, it erodes your credibility.

Flagstaff, AZ

I am 43 years old. For most of my life I have enjoyed PBS. I recently have enjoyed Carrier. Being a former Officer of United States Marines it is fun to see life onboard a ship again.

Todd Eggers, Chanhassen, MN

I found the program "Carrier" totally unworthy of presentation in its format because of its biased content without a balanced response. The unabashed Navy recruitment value is owed an appropriate response to give the show legitimacy. The show never concedes that the $766 billion annually in military expense is totally unnecessary and is totally worthless. The famous weapons such as the aircraft carriers were completely useless to stop 9/11. Further, exactly what nation would want to attack and occupy this country? What natural resource does the U.S. possess that it would wish to secure? Name one, nation or resource.

Robert Heberle, St. Anthony, MN

Not to Mention Mel Gibson

I am enjoying the series "Carrier" but was rather distressed to realize that the producer is Mel Gibson, an individual whose work I swore to avoid after his blatantly anti-Semitic comments of a few years ago. I am disappointed that PBS would enter into a production agreement with such a controversial person.

Nancy Gluck, West Long Branch, NJ

"Carrier" is not journalism. It is militaristic sycophancy. Much the same type of material extended the War in Vietnam and brought us to war in Iraq. Extolling the virtues of big boys with lethal toys is the last thing that PBS should be doing.

Ted Dracos, Concan, TX

I watched "Carrier." I was really shocked that you would air this piece of military propaganda immediately after it was revealed that the mainstream media, including PBS, had been employing "military experts" who were being paid by the Pentagon to deliver its talking points (which is illegal). You did not hold up your Fourth Estate obligations in the run up to the Iraq War, and you're still airing pro-war programming. Shame, shame on you.

Claremont, CA

It seems to this ex-Navy, not ex-patriot, senior American citizen, who wanted to be a jet pilot and astronaut before needing corrective lenses for distance vision, your job must be very stressful. Last night PBS broadcast 'Carrier' in prime time, followed by 'Warplane,' with no advisory to warn young and vulnerable viewers that professional productions in 2008, which glamorize and glorify war, tend to support and promote the defective foreign policy of the current, Bush, administration. No offense intended toward any of the brave, courageous, dutiful, patriotic and/or sacrificing military personnel who were interviewed, or the very competent commercial docutainment propaganda producers but, just how do those programs differ, effectively, from retired generals commenting in favor of Bush's war?

Charles Shaver, Westfield, WI

I was very shocked at the lack of professionalism displayed by PBS in the documentary, "Carrier" on Sunday, April 27th. Having been stationed on a carrier, Vinson and Theodore Roosevelt, I am severely disappointed in the way that men and women on the "Nimitz" were portrayed. Sailors' videos of other sailors in the "head," groups of women discussing how to keep their berths clean and others washing or scrubbing windows, etc. Still others were portrayed as lacking in education and maturity or claiming that "carrier life is just a big high school". This is not the nature of aircraft carriers, nor of the professional attitude of its crew or any crew. The individual men and women portrayed were not representative of the Navy. If they were, we have gone in reverse and now I am truly worried about the state of our military and of our society. I think PBS has done a disservice to the Navy, to the Country and to PBS.

Louis J. DiLullo, Easton, PA
Captain, USN-ret.

I was just watching the Carrier show and I want to say thank you for showing this. I was on the USS NIMITZ from 2003 to 2008. And I was on board when this show was being filmed. It brings back such good memories. Again, thank you for showing the U.S. what we in the US NAVY do. FLY NAVY

AM2(AW) Schueller, San Diego, CA

Praise for the Moyers Style

I have read virtually all of the posts about Bill Moyers' interview with the Reverend Wright, and I have also read the posts addressing the controversy on the Ombudsman's column. Let me observe, first, that Bill Moyers' soft-spoken questions and his gentle manner, about which many people complain, allows him to elicit more information from a given person he is interviewing than he would if he were fiery, flamboyant, and adversarial. Second, let me observe that Mr. Moyers is extremely intelligent: Perhaps deliberately, he uses his manner to mask his intelligence in order to make statements or take stands that might otherwise seem unthinkable or outrageous. Finally, I will note that I believe his program is perhaps the best of several excellent PBS news venues. Mr. Moyers is able to extract far more information from the people he interviews than, say, is Charlie Rose, who — though also highly intelligent — is far more intense, outspoken, and flamboyant than Bill.

M A Wimsatt, Columbia, SC

Just exactly what is America all about if not to give someone a chance to talk about himself and express perhaps unpalatable thoughts and uncomfortable ideas? Isn't that democracy? I for one am a Caucasian who happens never to have set foot inside a "black" church, and I appreciated Mr. Moyers' interview with this person more than I realized. I was particularly impressed by Mr. Moyers' breadth of knowledge about the black church experience in the South. What was so offensive about that interview? I don't get it. The man was given a chance to explain himself, and he did so using the English language, and I sensed no attempts by Mr. Moyers or PBS to mollycoddle the Reverend in any way. Thank God for PBS. Who else would have looked behind that man and his pulpit to find out what drove him to say those things that he has said at his church in Chicago? Keep these thoughtful discussions coming and ignore these wackos who found offense! Next I'd like to hear Mr. Moyers and Ahmadinejad speak. Why not?

Anne M. Falmouth, MA

I don't know where to start about the Wright story I'm so upset about mainstream America and how Caucasians say they have black friends and are so open about racial issues. Lynchings were a fact of life in the US, did the Govt not take land from the Indians kill rape and beat their people, and then we try to say we negotiated in good faith with them but they were uncooperative?? they WERE UNCOOPERATIVE ABOUT GIVING UP SOMETHING THEY OWNED??!! Am I missing something here? Is what Rev Wright said racist or true? That's what gets me anytime anyone of color says something that is true about America's past it is racist but you can't deny these things took place. And what's the response oh well get over it it happened a long time ago we have to move on if we want to heal etc. Rev Wright told the truth he served in the military received commendation for operating on LBJ. He's more of a patriot than many in the red states. Good job Bill Moyers.

Glenn Dale, MD

I'm a 59 year old white male originally from Michigan who understood the context behind Rev Wright's exhortations of "Goddamn America" from the first time I heard them. He wasn't asking God to damn America, he was asking us to realize that God would condemn that which we have allowed the great ideal of America to become via our actions and inactions.

You mentioned that there were concerns from viewers on Mr Moyers' interview that he had soft-peddled questions to Rev Wright. I disagree. He may have been polite, but certainly was straight forward in queries. Moyers' show is not Fox News and that's exactly what I admire about it. I appreciated as well the balanced tenor of your statements as a PBS ombudsman. Kudos to you, Mr. Moyers and PBS for producing an excellent interview and providing deeper insight into a rather hysterical situation.

Cul Heath, Winter Haven, FL

First, I thank you for your strong words on the Moyers interview with Wright. As often is the case with Moyers, the entire event appeared to be rather carefully staged (this comes naturally for Moyers — so I don't imply conspiracy) to simply use the event to 1.) protect Sen. Obama and 2.) use the opportunity to attack others (those troubled by Wright's actions) with a different point of view. In reality, Moyers often ends up meeting the true definition of a bigot — intolerance of others with a different political or religious view.

G. Hall, Los Angeles, CA

After reading the responses to the Moyers' interview, I must commend the feedback from Ms. Wimsatt. Firstly, she was the only one who (dared) share her race coupled with the fact that she is familiar with the black community. I would surmise that the majority of the other responders are Caucasian — which means that they are ignorant of what it (truly) means to be black in America & what are the REAL meanings of the messages emanating from the black pulpits. Sure, it's their right to voice their opinions — same for Pastor Wright — but far too many opine via (cultural) Ignorance — something of which y'all will NEVER fully understand. Thank you, Ms. Wimsatt.

Wayne Osborne, Baltimore, MD

C'mon, Michael. Were you really surprised that Moyers threw only 'softball' questions at Wright? I certainly wasn't, and predicted exactly what kinds of questions Moyers would ask when I first heard the promo. Bill Moyers 'Journal' only has guests with whom BM agrees, and always throws them 'softball' questions. And, of course, Wright chose Bill Moyers Journal for his first 'post-retirement' interview for precisely those reasons.

William F. Buckley had 1/2 hour every weekend for a couple of decades, had guests from every ideological point of view, and asked tough questions whether he agreed with the guests or not. He had mostly (but not all) Conservative views but you wouldn't have known that by the hard questions he asked. Bill Moyers gets 1 hour of network prime time each week to voice his reliably left opinions and have conversations with his 'fellow travelers.' It only was 'news' because Wright had been otherwise silent these last couple of months. Then Wright confirmed the content of the 'dirty laundry' that is giving Obama such a headache lately.

Michael Freed, Sylmar, CA

Bill Moyers is only making his Jeremiah Wright debacle worse. His interview was, indeed, soft and shallow but that is no excuse for the McCain bashing he entered into tonight. Wright is a megalomaniac and it would be poetic justice if he cost Obama the presidency. Moyers and his affinity for the left wingers has finished me with both he and PBS. Perhaps the race baiters will support PBS or Wright will donate proceeds from the inevitable book deal. I'm voting with my remote control on this topic.

Tulsa, OK

I'm writing to say that I learned a lot from the Bill Moyers interview with Rev. Wright. I only wish more interviews on news programs could be conducted in such a dignified and respectful way. What I find funny were the ombudsman's comments complaining that the interview appeared to be a conversation between two theologians. He shouldn't be surprised at all because both Wright and Moyers are theologians! They both study religion and are ordained ministers . . .

(Ombudsman's note: That was pointed out in the column.)

It was nice to see a civil conversation on our racial, economic and religious culture clash on public television. Wright's opinions may not be shared by everyone, but he has the right to have them and we shouldn't fear what he has to say. The Moyers interview put Wright's ministry into context. Over 30 years ago, Wright took over a ministry in a poor section of Chicago, developed after school programs for children, assistance programs for the elderly and ministered to the needs of his community. Which has done exactly what a lot of conservatives want. He's used faith based initiatives to address society ills. The fact that Wright is a showboat and a ham doesn't discredit the 30 years of work he's done for the poor and least among us.

Moyers had an adult conversation about race, class, religion and politics. That fact that so many people are shocked by Wright's words illustrates how poorly we're served by cable television, talk radio and commercial television broadcast news. Keep it up PBS. Bill Moyers is a national treasure. Thanks for challenging your audience.

G. Wilson, Boston, MA

I was very disappointed in the Bill Moyers' interview with Reverend Wright. There were virtually no serious questions regarding Wright's controversial statements, and virtually no discussion involving his black-separatist stance. Frankly I believe Mr. Moyers did an injustice to those of us who expected more journalistic integrity. It appears that his anti-Bush agenda clouds his judgment when faced with anything/anyone who bucks traditional, American values and morals. I suspect had he interviewed the Reverends Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson he would have been slightly more combative.

Seth Rogers, Davie, FL

I was anxious to see the interview with Rev. Wright and I did not expect Bill Moyers to be a Mike Wallace (a bulldog at making his interviewee squirm) and badger Mr. Wright. That's not his style. But Mr. Moyers is a superior interviewer, and what he did was let Mr. Wright talk. I agree with some of your commentors in saying that African-Americans face completely different challenges than Caucasians do. But then again that is why we have racism in this country because most white people can't empathize with Blacks. I say, Mr. Moyers, keep up the good work.

Michael Cindrich, Kansas City, MO

I thought Moyers asked the right questions, and that Wright adequately explained his Sermon. But! I am not a wing nut, right or left. I am just a reasonably educated middle of the road type. Nothing Wright said criticized B.O. It did lay bare some questions about just how pure the USA isn't, but many don't see that.

The Bill of Rights guarantees our right to do/say/criticize. Yet many "think" we should "Love the USA or Leave it!" I believe that is nonsense. In fact, it is down right un-American. We are blessed to live here and we should stay and try to make things even better. Wright only said that in his opinion God would not like many of the things that we have done. What is God's will? We have a right to express our opinion, that's legal here. Wright did express his opinion. Anyone who does not support Wright's right to speak his mind, doesn't understand our Constitution, or our form of democratic government.

T. Gilmore, Stilwell, KS

Maybe Moyers was soft with the Reverend, BUT legacy media has been absolutely blind, deaf and dumb for the last 8 years as the federal government and its elected and appointed traitors have desecrated the constitution, eliminated checks and balances to allow a unitary president, destroyed the economy and credit of the country, turned our military into torturers, destroyed the middle class, employed imperialism to enrich its corporate kickbackers, etc. ad nauseum. Moyers' interview and the Reverend were insignificant by the most far-fetched comparison. This constant and inane "outrage" is not just misplaced but indicates the inability of the public to engage in rational and logical thought processes. The dumbing down of Americans is below ground zero.

Dwight Bobson, Washington, DC

I watched Bill Moyers' interview with Rev. Wright. I had more difficulty with Wright's not answering the questions given than having trouble with his speeches. The "possibility" of the Government having infected black communities with HIV is not very believable since most of those that "came out of the closet" to illustrate what HIV does to the human body were white males, not blacks. Anything is possible but PROBABILITY is what really counts and it just isn't there. Yes, syphilis was tested on black males in the earlier part of the 20th Century but that doesn't mean the government repeated its stupidity. Dr. Wright would do better for the black community/church if he illustrated Bush/Cheney's actions of fear-mongering and secrecy which we all encountered. Also, after seeing part of the foolishness he partook in at the NAACP which the NAACP can accept or criticize as they wish, the National Press Club was a whole other "ball of wax" slandering and vilifying MSM and Sen. Obama for working to improve race relations will all parts of the American society. Is he afraid of not having a topic to harangue on if Obama is either nominated or voted into the Presidency???

Patricia Wilson, San Jose, CA

I saw a lack of journalistic ethics displayed by Bill Moyers in his interview with Rev. Wright. Timed when it was and conducted in the manner that it was, it was not an effort to get to the truth but rather was an effort by Moyers to misrepresent the character of Rev. Wright and rehabilitate his public image.

Given what had been reported about Wright before the interview, it is unimaginable that Moyers could have held such a long interview in good faith without digging deeply into issues that had stirred up so much controversy. For instance, Moyers did not ask about Wright's outrageous statement that America created HIV as an act of genocide toward people of color. To cover things fairly you have to ask the hard questions and then follow up if they are not answered. Moyers is not stupid and could only have failed to ask this question if he wanted to misrepresent.

There was no effort to give viewers insight into the questions that were then pending as to the true personality of Rev. Wright. The question was being hotly debated at the time whether Wright was the hothead, prejudiced person that we had seen in sound bites and quotes during the weeks prior to the Moyers interview. The public wanted to know who Wright really was, but Moyers chose to ask questions designed to paint a picture. He deliberately made Wright out to be a soft-spoken, grandfatherly man of good will who had been falsely portrayed by sound bites. Moyers did not ask the hard factual questions and instead asked soft, leading questions that suggested answers that were favorable to Wright.

When the show was over, the public had been deceived as to the character and personality of Rev. Wright. Two days later we saw the true Rev. Wright at length at the National Press Club and at the NAACP convention. Those appearances have shown that the suspicions many had of Rev. Wright that preexisted the Moyers interview were in fact correct. Had Rev. Wright not egotistically pursued further opportunities to spew his opinions in public, the public would have been left with the image of Rev. Wright that Moyers cultivated . . .

G. A., Durham, NC