Your Frontline program about Newt Gingrich looked like an attempt to to write his political obituray. Sorry PBS, but your liberal slip is showing. I have been an an admirer of Frontline for many years and this is the first time I viewed a program written and edited with such anger. Are you mad because Newt has questioned the Federal support of PBS? When 17% of my federal taxes are paying interest on the national debt, everything is on the table, including funding for PBS.
Very much enjoyed your presentation on Newt Gingrich. You made him out to be a major opportunist; manipulating ideologies and people both in political and personal life to attain his ends. I regret you did not interview Big Newt and his sisters and children from the first marriage about Newt and family values. It is so common that many politicians preach about family values only to have their own personal lives invalidate such sentiments. I.D.
The biography on Newt Gingrich which aired Jan. 16th was very disappointing. The show was completely slanted in a negative way. There was no mention of the many positve contributions that Mr. Gingrich has accomplished. All of the people who were interview were presented as close friends of Newt's however, none of these people had anything nice to say about him. Was it impossible to interview his current campaign manager or one of his current staff members? The conclusion that the viewer was lead to was that Mr. Gingrich is guilty of illegal actions and unethical behavior whose future is uncertain. In the future I would like to see a more balanced program instead of the misleading program which was presented.
I viewed Frontline tonight and am glad that the program further exposed the dishonest and currupt nature of Newt Gingrich. I had read or heard of many of the things reported on the show, but I didn't know of the deep and long held nature of his dangerous ideas. I am glad that PBS has the 'guts' to produce and show a program of this type, especially since one of The Speaker's aims has been to see that services such as PBS are either closed down or made to follow some right-wing party line. I hope PBS will stand firm against such blackmail and continue to produce and show programs that give a more truthful view of today's issues. T.A.
The Frontline episode that aired last night about Newt Gingrich was a smear. While I do not personally care for the Speaker, nor for many of his policies, the program was terribly unbalanced from start to finish. Why, for example, is it relevant to mention that he didn't have a date to the high-school prom? Who cares? It comes across as simply nasty and personal, and certainly not important for us to know in understanding the man.
Why describe his mind as "flypaper?" Most of us have experienced things that have made an impression on us. Does that make all our minds like flypaper? A very unflattering choice of words. Is he a pitbull, or is he a bulldog? The former has a far nastier connotation than the latter. That Frontline consistently chose negative words made it obvious that this program was more a diatribe than an objective report. The language in the broadcast made obvious the producers' and writers' personal distaste for the Speaker. That's not journalism; it's opinion. The program pretended to be an objective look at Mr. Gingrich; it was really an expression of their opinions.
Especially revealing was the exchange between Mr. Gingrich and Mr. O'Neill. We saw Mr. Oneill waxing indignant about Mr. Gingrich's tactics, with not so much as a cursory mention of the incontrovertible fact that the Democratic leadership was corrupt to the core. No mention of how the Democrats abused their leadership over the years, at the expense of House Republicans. Tip O'Neill as a righteous accuser - please. Wasn't it he who instructed the TV cameras to pan across an empty House when a congressman was speaking? Who is he to complain? Say what you will about Mr. Gingrich, he conducted a tough fight as leader of the loyal opposition. Politics is a tough business, and the Speaker won his job fair and square. Whether one likes his Contract with America, at least he did what he said - which is, er, unusual in politics these days, no? It was clearly time for a change of leadership in the House, and if Mr. Gingrich doesn't deliver on his promises, the voters can tell him and his colleagues so, every two years. Frontline would do well to label its opinions as opinions, and not as fair and objective reporting.
Santa Cruz, California
Just saw your special on Newt and so must everyone else. I have not been able to get on the internet until now, although I have been trying since the show went off. I think that you did an excellent job on the history of Newt. I only wish that others watching could have the same historicla perspective that I have. My minor was history. In particular, the history of the founding fathers. If there is one thing that Jefferson taught us, from his own writings, is that power does change a person's perspective. And so with Newt. I only with that the Rush's of the world could see your story with a sense of history. Congratulations on a story well done. I realize that some conservatives may not share this view and will characterize your story as "liberal hogwash". However, I believe that your story has given me a better understanding of the man and his quest for a place in history. It is always beneficial to understand a politicians motivations, even if he/she doesn't.
I was very disappointed with your one sided newt segment. It's very important to present a balanced viewpoint. There is complexity in everyone's personality and you could present similar contradictions in many of our best leaders both past and present. More importantly, has Newt touched an important middle class nerve? YES. I believe Newt's is doing more good than bad. It is obvious he is not the typical politican pandering to the latest weekly public opinion poll. My wife and I now vote republican because of Newt's ideas and John Kasich's energy. We are in our 30's and 40's and consider ourselves liberal on many issues. keep it up Newt!
I had the pleasure of catching your Newt special last night on Frontline - it made me realize just how great this nation really is. A free press is perhaps our most important freedom, though one might argue that the need for any public funding for press organs such as yours is being eviscerated by the proliferation of new media channels. I expected to see a hatchet job on Newt, and my expectations were fully met. You folks really did a great job of digging up all available dirt on Newt (the bizarre tirade by the book protester about oral sex and the bookjacket swastika photo were each particularly enlightening) and tying it together into one fairly coherent whole.
But the failure of your program, and by analogy the failure of contemporary liberalism, was revealed at the end of the "documentary." If liberals want to reopen their booth in the marketplace of ideas, they must first realize that the conservative revolution is built on IDEAS, not on Newt Gingrich. While Newt is certainly a great communicator of our ideas (the best since Ronald Reagan), the ideas themselves are much more powerful than one man or one political party. Your attempt to link the '96 elections to Newt at the close of the show indicates that you just don't get it.
I look forward to similar treatment of the Clintons' "long march" to power in Arkansas. Will Frontline dig deep into the cesspool of Arkansas-style political and sexual sleaze? I won't be holding my breath.
Martin Luther King put it well: "Let Freedom Ring!" >From every molehill in Mississippi to every webpage in cyberspace, let freedom ring! I'm proud to live in a nation that will not only permit but will indeed FUND your hatchet piece on Newt. Let Freedom Ring!
I was disappointed in your Frontline story on Newt Gingrich. I thought it was extremely negative. He's been called a true futurist, a visionary by many. None of this was brought out--just that he's a revolutionary. Most of the pictures of him were unflattering also. Maybe you'll do a positive story after the 1996 election.
I found your program The Long March of Newt Gingrich very fascinating. I, like most Americans, do not find the time to really get to know our elected officials. This is eminently true when I feel that I have no control (electoral) in getting most politicians into power (or out of power). I rely on television and the printed media to inform me of the continual ebbs and flows of politics in our country. I know this is inadequate on my part since I know, first hand, that the news media (printed anyway), typically reports events as they see them and not as they really are. Therefore, for that reason I took your program with a grain of salt." I could see how you surveyed Speaker Gingrich with your liberal eye-view. However, even after that bitter salty taste wore off and your liberal slant was aligned, I was left feeling sick and frightened by our future with a man such as our current Mr. Speaker holding power. Your words hinting at his Hitler-like speeches, his soulless disregard for his own family values, his tumultuous swings in loyalty, his McCarthy-like accusations, etc. all produced the desired effect on me. Even your Mao-ist title helped your cause!
What a sham! I caught a portion of the Newt Gingrich program and found it to be a real slammer! Inasmuch as Mr. Newt does have some baggage, as we all do, the piece was quite skillfully concocted as to convey an overall negative tone. This I believe was a conscious effort and an attempt to "Pay back" those who would seek to defund PBS. Personally, I agree with the latter notion, that is to defund PBS. I do find that certain programming PBS generates is superlative in content and execution, unfortunately too much is blantantly extreme in its liberal tone i.e. homosexuality, AIDS, attacking conservatives. Seek your future and fortune on the plains of the free market like the rest of us rather than in the contrived laboratory (that is government hand-outs)at our expense.
Thank you for showing Newt, warts and all. I hope that the self-rightous members of the "conservative revolution" have the guts to accept that their hero is no second coming of James Madison or Thomas Jefferson, but instead merely a power-hungry egotist. There is a lot in the conservative movement that I believe can be brought into American culture and will ultimately help our nation. However, if these folks decide to hang their star on the present Speaker of the House and the Religious Right, they may find themselves in trouble. I also found it interesting (and revealing) that the religious right (in the person of Ralph Reed) finds an adulterous non-churchgoing individual such as Newt more acceptable to them than a thoughtful, strong family man such as Colin Powell. Thanks for uncovering their hypocrisy. Keep up the good work.
Frontline is probably the best documentary television show in America -- its attention to detail is unsupassed, and its unyielding force applied to objectivity unmatched. What happened the other night? I don't like Newt Gingrich personally, because he represents a shallow and often bigoted view of America's ills... but in Frontline's fine tradition, I should have come to this conclusion on my own. Unfortunately, the reporter/writer/producer's view was more important than the facts -- which in the case of Newtie -- speak for themself. The biased voiceover was distracting, subjective, and self-aggrandizing -- everything Frontline is not. Don't skimp on the editing -- keep up the good work!!!
Robert C. Palmer
First, let me commend you on a wonderfully informative program on the Speaker of the House. It went the distance to show that Newt Gingrich is following no one but himself. The problem that I see with government today is that the elected officials have forgotten what their job is: to represent the people. They are not in office to further their own personal agenda, but to do what is in the best interests of their constituency. Speaker Gingrich is a perfect example of a man following his own agenda. The disgrace, however, is that he has convinced so many others to follow him.
Mr. Gingrich calls himself a revolutionary. As a student of history, he should know that revolutionaries have almost consistently been dictatorial, autocratic and even tyrannical. This is not what we need in a democracy.
Lee A. Lewis
While I am not a Newt fan, I found your one sided slamming of him to be distastful. Have we gotten to the point where a fair portrayal of our political leaders is impossible for todays reporters? I belive this story reflected more negatively on Frontline than the Speaker.
I just finished viewing your program. Simply breathless! The hypocrisy of Mr. Gingrich never ceases to amaze me. I didn't think anyone in Journalism had the courage to speak the truth anymore. Then again, if PBS didn't, who would, right? Besides Frontline, the only other source where such information was revealed was by Robert Scheer; then again, it was relegated to the "Op-Ed" pages.
Thank you once again for having the courage and integrity to report the truth.
Your show about Newt Gingrich was the most partisan piece of journalism I've ever witnessed on televsion. Just how much money did the Democratic National Committee give you to trash Mr. Gingrich? You owe Gingrich an hour's worth of rebutal time. I also wonder just what influence Gingrich and the Republican's budget cut of funds to PBS had on the show's producers!
Thank you for another well-produced, thought provoking piece. I would not count myself among Newt Gingrich's supporters, but I enjoyed the chance to hear more about where he comes from and how his persona has developed. I appreciate the relatively unbiased (IMO) perspective you took because I can trust the information more than most "news" on Newt. I wish I could have sat down with a discussion group after the show to talk about the various thoughts that came to mind. Perhaps that's an idea you've considered already? Thanks again for your excellent offerings!
I always enjoy watching the high quality of "documentary style" programs on Frontline. I was however very disappointed in the January 16, 1996 program regarding Newt Gingrich. I have never seen such a biased and slanted piece of reporting. It was unbelievable. Did the reporter say one good thing about Mr. Gingrich? The movie clips that were scattered throughout the show also made Mr. Gingrich appear to be a wimp. I feel that this is a classic example of the elite liberal media attempting to embarass a leader in the republican party. I understand if the reporter had differences with Mr. Gingrich and his "Contract With America," but to make personal attacks on the man without him having any rebuttal is ridiculous. You should be embarassed and ashamed of your lame attempt to smear Mr. Gingrich.
Finally, some objective history about the man who seems to believe that his every breath is an historic event. Unfortunately, a local windstorm knocked out my local pbs station about 3/4 through, so I'm hoping for an encore performance.
Even handed, informative, factual, fascinating. Thank you very much for a job well done.
While informative to some extent, the program suffered from an antipathy towards the subject, which made it, in my opinion an unfair portrait: 1) Describing Gingrich as a "pit bull" - the term coined by his partisan enemies - is not what I would consider objective journalism. 2) The mountain of ethics charges against Gingrich were mentioned. It was not mentioned that literally hundreds of ethics charges have been launched by his enemies, and that Gingrich has been cleared in just about every case. Gingrich doesn't have an ethics problem; his problem is that his very effectiveness makes his enemies try anything to stop him or bring him down. 3) A reluctance to talk seriously about his ideas, and instead to dwell on some childhood connections to old movies seemed to me attempt to slight what he stands for.
I understand how you chose to represent Newt's life in a negative light, however I believe it is interesting to note that his life is in almost complete concordance with Nietzshian philosophy. He apparently views life as a battle -- a struggle between forces. According to Nietzsche, these forces can be anything: two enemies, species in evolution, or Newt and his rivals. To a Nietzshist, right and wrong are secondary to the eternal struggle which is the machinery of the universe. Thus, Newt will adopt any political position regardless of his opinion, if it will get him what he wants. It's an admirable philosophy for individual well- being, but is obviously bad for national politics.
The presentations about Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Limbaugh might have been refreshing, if you weren't so completely predictable in highlighting the things about these two men that you find so distasteful. I think the "crack" about Mr. Gingrich having a "flypaper brain" totally lacking luster, creativity and style. It will be refreshing when people of your minimal production skills have to seek employment in a marketplace. Discovery, The Learning Channel and the History Channel are doing nicely without govermnent subsidy and handouts from "charitable" organizations.
An excellent over view of Newt. Well done, written and documented. I have a course this semester dealing in politics and the media... and how each use both. We will be looking at Nwet and the Republican party and how they use and are used by the media. But over all, a great project. Would love to see more like them. Keep up the good work.
I enjoyed the show -- it was thorough and well done. However, one part was clearly unfair. I agree with Newt's claim that they missed a golden opportunity for budget negotiations on the way to Rabin's funeral. I've flown to Israel and the plane rides are interminable. Frontline went along with the left's portrayal of Newt's complaints about this as pouting over a social snub. Why? Surely you are aware of the length of that plane ride and of the importance of the budget negotiations. The easy answer is that you are pursuing a partisan agenda. This is the answer that the right wing wants everyone to believe -- that is their agenda. Consider the strategy.
Every person they can convert to a media skeptic, is a long term convert. The right wing realizes that the next election isn't the only one. Their goal is REALIGNMENT. They are using claims of media bias to make permanent changes in the electorate. In politics, memories are short. One real convert is worth more than 1,000 shouts of "Amen!" I know Frontline is not billed as a news show and does not claim to provide the balance of The News Hour (BY FAR the best and most balanced source of news anywhere). But, your show still contained "Limbaugh fodder." You have helped provide one of the key "fuels" for the right wing revolution. Consider carefully the long and short term effects of your shows. Realignment occurs one person at a time.
I watched your broadcast on Channel 9 in Seattle last night and must say it was really something. If you people are trying to be the liberal counterpart to Rush Limbaugh, you should be honest and say so. That way, at least, people would know where you are coming from. But to put out such drivel under the guise of a program such as Frontline, which aspires to be factual and trustworthy, is underhanded and dishonest. What bothered me most was the biased content of the narration and the sneering manner in which it was delivered. It was a pitiful exhibition. But that's not all. It is one thing to show comments by liberals such as Patricia Schroeder and David Bonior, et al, because most of the public knows where these people are coming from. It is a different thing to show people who are not known to most of us. Are they political friends or enemies? Is it possible that what they said was taken out of context? How are we to judge? Maybe I was more naive in my younger years and just didn't notice, but it seems to me that most of your programming, is now biased to the liberal side. This is unfortunate.
I have been a dedicated fan of WGBH - Boston for years. The many fine masterpieces produced there are unequalled -- with the exception of the `expose' or should I say the `hatchet job' done on the Speaker of the House. To be sure, Newt has his faults and if I could remake him, there is much I would change. But, the clearly partisan, whining, hand wringing attempt to defame him in the Jan 16th program serves only to illustrate that partisan politics has no place in a medium that is funded in part by we the people.
If I indeed know how this program will be received by those who idolize Newt, and given the power of the purse that they currently exercise, I fear even more that badly needed funding for PBS will be further curtailed. Should this prove to be the case, then whatever objectives were at the foot of permitting this smear piece to be approved for airing will be repaid with consequences that undoubtably were not considered at the time.
Finally, even the most diehard liberal had to have been embarrassed by the silly schoolgirl tone the piece took on as it rose to a shrill, mind numbing screech toward the end. Any pretense of objectivity the earlier portions may have suggested was lost in this moment. Is there no editorial review of these independent productions? Yellow journalism is too fine a judgement for it.
Still a dedicated PBS supporter, I remain respectfully yours,
What exactly is a flypaper mind? I truly am not sure if I would like that destinction, would you?? Would your average viewer? Go through your office and randomly tell 25 people that they have a flypaper mind and see what the reaction is.
I was also wondering if there will be a similar production on Bill Clinton. Given that this an election year and that Bill was almost unknown until 1992, it would seem appropriate. Perhaps we will see a replay of the press confrence with Ms Flowers, or download the letter to the ROTC officer. Or perhaps see some interviews with his friends at the RTC and the Whitehouse travel office. Would Kenneth Starr be available for comment? Could we download a passenger list from the crybaby plane ride and see exactly why it made the front page?
If your going to paint a picture, why not paint the whole thing. But maybe, regrettably, you think you already have.
I give you a C+ for a job half finished.
Frontline's feeble pretense to objectivity has hit a new low in this malicious and cynical attack. Highlights: "his intellect and his adgenda are guided by the highest bidder" ... "something of an intellectual fadist" ... ""ruthless romantic"..."the impetuous child with the impossibly large sense of himself suddenly materialized"..."untethered Army brat"..."brainy political precosity"...Of the Republican Revolution, "He has been its strength, and is now its frailty"..."The once penniless college professor stepped forward to grab hischance for a BIG PAYOFF. He took a $4.5 million book advance from Rupert Murdock. BLIND TO THE CRAVEN IMAGE OF MAKING HIMSELF RICH, WHILE CUTTING AID TO THE POOR, HE WAS SHAMED INTO GIVING THE MILLIONS BACK."
A clip from the "Magnificent 7" is employed to imply that a "revolutionary who has stormed the gate" must always ride into the sunset. Very subtle. But, what of Washington, FDR, Jefferson, Jackson, or even Reagan, who served many years before "riding off". If DNC propaganda is permitted to be financed by NEA and taxpayer dollars, why not subsidize and nationally broadcast the "Rush Linbaugh TV Show". At least he pretends no objectivity. As for comments such as "Firing Line is right wing", well, not particulary. Guests are quite often Liberal or Socialist, which leads to more engaging discussion. Take away federal funding of PBS, and let the marketplace decide.
I was very disappointed at your unbalanced presentation on Newt Gingrich. You seemed to have looked for, and found, all of the negative aspects of his personal and professional life. Certainly more time might have been spent on his political philosophy and what he hopes to accomplish.
As a rule I enjoy viewing Frontline. This show normally maintains a fair amount of balance and objectivity in it's reporting. However, I must ask you, did the Democratic National Comittee pay you to do the report that I watched this week on the current speaker of the House? Any pretense of objective reporting went right out the window in this piece. I have never seen such a biased and slanted report on Frontline before. It bordered closer to character assasination than anything else. If you want to understand why there are those that attack PBS for being to liberal, take a real critical look at this piece of so called "journalism". I wonder if you would do such an adversarial piece on the Clintons? I doubt it. A show like that is one of the reasons some people would like to pull the plug on your government funding. You could take that particular show and use it for a Democratic campaign commercial this fall. After watching the attempted hatchet job you tried to do on the House Speaker, I doubt that I will watch Frontline again.
p.s. Your little slogan, "If PBS won't do it, who will?" is the height of arrogance. There are plenty of media outlets out there that take on any project under the sun. PBS is not the sole bastion of courage, bravery, and truth in America.
You really failed to highlight the degree of temerity that Gingrich displayed in his career as a representative of Georgia's 6th congressional district when it was drawn across South Atlanta (clayton County). I lived there during the early to mid eighties, and frequently responded to his editorial commentaries in the local newspapers. Gingrich makes Goebbles look like a saint. Have you seen some of the propaganda documents Newt circulated with his free congressional mailing privileges? I hope I still have some for the day of Gingrich's public accounting, which should be named "Nuremburg II".
Last night I watched your program 'exposing' Mr. Limbaugh. And I was wondering, are you going to do a similar 'exposing' Bill Clinton's half-truths and outright lies ?
Seem like your producers and staff still don't get it. The policies of socialism and class warfare that have been embraced by the DNC are not welcomed to the majority of the US citizens. You can label us as mindless, but let me tell you that I speak six languages, have traveled the world, worked in seven different countries and agree with a lot of what Rush is saying. And I'm not white.
Insulting and demeaning people that hold opposite viewpoints have been a long tradition of media participants that are standing to the left with liberal political views. I couldn't believe you doing exactly that. This isn't journalism. Be objective and imparcial if that is possible in any program that comes from PBS stations.
I find myself in the absurd position for a life-long social liberal of speaking out in defence of Newt Gingrich.
There is a line between hard-nosed political reporting and what is so delicately called "advocacy journalism." In the good ol' days we used to call it plain old "yellow journalism", or labelled it outright propaganda.
Bluntly, the narrative portion of "Frontline" was overtly biased, to the point of being outrageous. Even though I generally oppose Newt's views at every turn and I consider him arrogant and overreaching, I found myself squirming as I listened to your artful character assassination, particularly since a simple recitation of the actual historic record would have said more than enough to prove the case.
Opinion mixes poorly with journalism. That's why there is a separate category for editorial views. This program should have been labelled as such. Better yet, you should have axed the script entirely.
The visual footage was well-edited and the talking heads managed to tell the story quite well without it. In short, it was as inappropriate as the laugh-track imposed on every episode of M*A*S*H; a condescending gesture that shows how little you think of your audience.
Could it be that some of the overt hostility comes from Newt's statements concerning his vision of the future of public television? It might be wise to consider this possibility and decide whether you want to be a public institution - which should represent all consumers - or a liberal institution. If you object to the agendas of conservatives you should not accept public money, since you would be accepting conservative money.
Convictions that do not extend to the purse are mere opinions, and poor ones at that.
"The Long March" was quite eye-opening as to how a man's "friends" and family can destroy his efforts and defame his character. The program was obviously manipulative during this political season. I am amazed that Frontline is so blatant in their attempt to harden people's hearts against the changes Newt has introduced. It proves his accusation that his opposition is willing to do anything, no matter how dirty or deceptive, to keep things in Washington from changing.
Beth L. Kaler
This is a perfect example of two things: 1) Public money should not be used to fund programming that is so obviously biased. Even the tone of voice of the narrator was arrogant and dripped with sarcasm. 2) Campaign reform will have to be handled very carefully. If private funds are limited, Republicans will have a very difficult time in getting their message to the American people. The media is unashamedly liberal. If Newt's father says you either hate him or love him, please be advised that my husband and I LOVE him!!!