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Need to Know, May 14, 2010

In this episode of Need to Know, we visit a tiny, embattled outpost on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, explore a conversative group’s efforts to rewrite history in Texas, and offer five things you need to know about preventing cancer. Plus: Interviews with author Susan Jacoby, former National Security Council member Brett McGurk, an animation from Steve Brodner and Next Week’s News with Andy Borowitz.


  • MD

    Wow, it’s bad enough that Bill Moyer’s retired and that PBS cancelled NOW, the only other news show on PBS that wasn’t corporate funded. Just watching the opening right wing propaganda piece on Afghanistan on Need to Know was enough to ensure I won’t be watching this less than poor replacement for 2 of the best and truthful news shows on tv.

    As thought the Afghans would feel a need to fight for America’s quest for resources in Iraq. Karzai is America’s puppet. And when he dares to speak out it’s he who is portrayed as corrupt. America’s intention in Afghanistan are just as corrupt. We are there for the trans Afghanistan gas pipeline project and to secure an open shipping lane to the Indian ocean.
    PBS hypocrisy is disturbing. I realize George Bush loaded the CPB board with many right wing ideologues, but this type of programming is outright pathetic propanda, a joke!

  • Alan Pennett

    Refreshing to see a touch of humor on PBS, and from two of the New Yorker magazine’s best, no less – Steve Brodner and Andy Borowitz. They helped leaven a serious and substantive hour. The Afghanistan interview was particularly strong, I thought.

  • Ditto

    Bill Moyer’s Journal was an intelligent discussion. The producers of this poor replacement are trying to hard to make Need to Know cool. We don’t need cartoons to explain the Afgan government. The content may have been informative but combined with cartoons, I immediately lose interest and want to change the channel.
    Less with Facebook and what is being said “online”. I am watching PBS to avoid social media.
    Again the topics are relevent and pertinent but don’t need dressing up to appeal to the masses.

  • Myra & Herb Rose

    Just watched your show and found it extremely informative , clearly put …..a good addition to the PBS news programming. And the Karzide ‘cartoon’ segment was a different take on all the ‘stuff’ that the news dailies have been running. Looking forward to next Friday !

  • Janet

    Absolutely adored Andy Borowitz at the end. What a smart and funny way to end the show.

  • Steve K

    Just to let you guys know. Everyone is suspicious that PBS has once again opted to move toward the main stream right wing agenda. Terminating Moyers and NOW sounds like a repeat of what PBS previously did to sabotage Moyers.. And the fact that both programs ended at the same time clinched it. This new program is superficial to the extreme. Your male interviewer looks like a deer in the headlights and your female interviewer has no history behind her and no depth as an interviewer. She just says what the committee told her to say.
    The program is a JOKE!! It is as depthful as the interviewers. And then of course there is the “voice over.” Frankly, since the program has NO muscle, its seems like another travel-log.
    It is Garbage!
    And your piece on Elizabeth Kagan: this woman is “evidently” already declared that she has no problem with detaining “terrorists” or whomever “indefintely.” Another trivial superficial program foisted on the public by PBS.
    PBS is entitled to its put forth pablum, but at least we know that this particular program is stillborn! If you get more the 100 people to watch this program in the weeks ahead, I would be very surprised!

  • Helen

    Excellent piece on the Texas textbooks. I knew about the controversy, but you brought out the depth of it in your story. My one complaint is that the Andy Borowitz piece was too short. However I will be repeating his Sarah Palin Joke – classic.

  • Deborah Steinmetz

    Franklin Graham expressed his concern over the treatment of women and girls by many of the Islam faith. Honor killings, arranged marriages of girls as young as 8 years old, and the general status of women as having less rights than men were what he referred to by his statements made in 2002, and he has clarified this.. Your guest cited Mr. Graham’s truthful and compassionate statements as “evil comments”. It is amazing how hypocritical secular advocates of ” freedom from religion” can be! The founding fathers decried a state established religion and intended that we have freedom OF, (not from,) religion. Christianity is under assault and misrepresented by ignorant, self righteous people whose intent is to eradicate free speech under the guise of, “separation of church and state.” Those who pretend to care about the oppression of others are the ones who want to silence Christians in the public forum. They fear what they can’t understand.

  • Will

    What a horrible, horrible excuse for a news program. Both Meacham and Stewart still look like deers in the headlights and are so uncomfortable. Superficial treatment of stories, bad sets, middle of the road political correctness, pretending to be innovative… This is a clear example of a show trying to be hip when it is so not. Get something better to replace it please! PBS couldn’t look sadder, squarer, or more pathetic.

  • Danielle

    I thought that Hugo Chavez’s “tweets” were very funny.

  • Rob

    I’m reserving global judgment on the show as a whole, but I will say this: Andy Borowitz is not funny. The whole “next week’s news” idea has a whiff of “Hee Haw” or “Laugh-in”—it feels old both in conception and execution, but it is comedy-with-a-rim-shot that’s time has passed. Alison and Jon both are wryly funny…let them be, rather than forcing this “canned” segment on us.

  • John B

    Is “Need to Know” going to be available in podcast (MP3 format)

  • Corbin L

    Next Week’s News was very, very funny. Had never heard of Mr. Borowitz but he was terrific.

  • Chefbrad

    PBS has been going DOWN since you people can’t been Honest & Truthful like Bill & NOW…

  • Chris A

    Well, I didn’t get a chance to “tape” the program, so here I am at their web page. I wanted to view it with high hopes that it might have gotten a smidgen better than last weeks, which I see from a few of the other comments hasn’t happened. I saw the link to view this weeks edition online. Clicked the link and just kept getting an error message of video not available. Possibly PBS set it up so only those using Microsoft explorer can view it, or possibly it’s just not ready. Either way, quite sad, since they keep stressing their online presence for this program.

    And while I’m here, why is it that PBS never ever (that I’ve seen) given any excuse for ending NOW. NOW should have gone to a full hour, not off the air. NOW is the program that this one hopes to be someday. We had NOW, and now we have this sorry replacement.

    It does seem as though PBS is doing this in an attempt to woo viewers who are more centrist or possibly right of center. Seems as though this will be a disaster, to take off two of the most beloved programs for those viewers who are left of center who were loyal Moyers and NOW watchers to replace them with this program. It seems certain that the producers did not understand their viewing audience. This group of Moyers/NOW loyalists were quite used to and were willing to contribute during the fund drives. From last weeks as well as the few from this weeks comments section, it seems that PBS will be hard pressed for contributions come pledge times for this time slot.

    Possible PBS has gotten a large corporate donor, and now doesn’t need our individual dollars.

  • Severyn Bruyn

    I was deeply disappointed in this show tonight. This is no replacement for Bill Moyers. I am shocked that PBS has moved in this direction.
    You have given us an argument for American empire building. You should look at what happened to other empires like the Egyptian, Aztecs, Roman and British empires. What happened to them? We were the terrorists for the British. My God. Can’t you see that any outside invade of a country will have its revolutionaries. If China invaded the United States we would fight them forever. Stop being the world’s Policeman. Go the United Nations and say that we do not want to be in these countries (Iraq and Afghanistan) and so we need to strengthen enforceable world law and support our international treaties.

    Go to my webpage and see the larger argument that you should put on your program:

    You should have a program on international law. Why?
    The only way that the United States came into being was by starting a confederation and then a federation. The colonies were fighting one another. Now Vermont does not go to war with Massachusetts. It is against the law.

    So at some point in the future we will need to create new federated governing systems at the global level. I hope it will not require a nuclear bomb going off in Tel Aviv or Washington, D.C. for people to wake up that we can no longer be the latest empire to become destroyed.

    And your piece on the religious right was impossible. You should be showing how people are looking at new ways to resolve this “science versus religion” problem. I just wrote an e-book about a new dialogue. Scroll down on the right side of my webpage and you will see a dialogue on Evolution that is interdisciplinary. I hope your show improves or you have lost me.

  • gandrews

    I appreciaterd the segment about the Texas textbooks controversy which is an embarrassment to the state where the board of education wants to stand up to and resist experts on different subjects. Experts are the people that we need to listen to rather than ideologues. McLeroy actually believes the earth is less than 10,000 years old and he is suppose to be deciding on what goes into our children textbooks.

  • Gerard Trigo

    I could not believe that segment on tbe Texas school board. How could they let such unqualified and ignorant individuals hold such an office? Amerca was Expansionist, but not Imperialistic? Tell that to the few surviving people we “expanded” over.

    I like the new show. So much better than the boring talking heads programs.

  • Angela T

    The ending segment on news predictions made all of us laugh. I hope that will be a regular feature.

  • Tourqewrench64


  • patrick the butcher

    @MD… I suppose you want them to show what kind, caring, and conscientious the taliban are? this is a story about the afghani’s fighting with the coalition, a story about people. not everything has to be a dissertation on the evils of the bush administration. don’t get me wrong, i think the GHW Bush admin was the worst in this country’s history, but let it go man. you are just as aweful in your extremist ideology as he was in his. you need to relax, have a drink and ease up, dude.

  • Lilly Anne

    ” Everyone need’s a bit of laughter at the end of the day”.
    I’m so tired of the horrible thing’s that the human race does
    to one another and all other living creatures ! It’s all around us in the news, in talk’s.. ” We should be ashamed of ourselves “.
    And I mean “we” in terms of every person in every country.
    For you who don’t like this show,”Stuff It”.We need a show that not only provides information but can lighten things up also. “Good going PBS and Need To Know”.

  • Matt Wion

    Very fine show tonight. I think much of the criticism of the first show was premature, and for this second program it is just misguided. I think Ms. Stewart in particular is an excellent anchor and I thought the stories on Texas and on Kagal’s relationship to Marshall were genuinely fine pieces of journalism.

    Most of the criticism here seems idealogical in nature. I see much promise in this program and am looking forward to more.

  • Lilly Anne

    Lilly Anne
    Cheer’s to you Patrick The Butcher !!!
    You summed it up quite nicely .

  • Lisa

    Good show “Need To Know”.
    Matt, very good observation. “I couldn’t have said it better”.

  • Teddy

    I’m afraid that some commenters here equate seriousness with humorlessness. What I enjoyed about tonight’s show was that it was actually quite serious most of the time, but very funny at the end and with the Karzai cartoon. The New Yorker is a good comparison, in that mixture of substantive and witty. If they can stick to that model and refine it, discerning viewers will flock to this program. I am a regular PBS donor and intend to increase my yearly donation.

  • Dom

    I liked the Steve Brodner cartoon.

  • Terry

    So, I watched again, in hopes that there had been some improvement over last week’s vacuous charade. I was pleasantly surprised that the segments were indeed of more depth, as well as more timely, but still not any more so than any other show. And, more importantly, this show continued to convince me that I don’t need to know what you are offering. Where are the tough and uncomfortable questions that drew me to PBS in the first place? How can you honestly say you are offering your viewers something new and better?

    The SNL wannabe segment at the end continues to make us cringe, so we didn’t torture ourselves through to the end as we did last week and turned off the program right away. I can tune in to the comedy channel if I feel the need for “laughter at the end of the day” – this Borowitz guy certainly doesn’t cut it.

    Guess it’s back to listening to the frogs croak in the evening.

  • Rapeski

    First story was just absolutly awful. Why the hell do I care about soldiers having cute glowly glue on them? And why do you (Need to Know) tell me where they shoot their mortars from? Like yeah it’s silly and maybe entertaining if I was a child.

    For real Need to Know, your wasting my time with such garbage like that. How is that gonna make me a better citizen or more knowledgable? Please. at lest watching craze-job Glenn Beck is fun.

    But the program did pick up starting alittle before the interview.

  • Wayne L.

    I really enjoyed your program tonight. The Texas textbook situation is very disturbing. It seems throughout history there have always been those who want to rewrite it. Capitalism and propaganda exists in the U.S. and is used by the our government and no amount of rewriting will ever change that. Thankfully Thurgood Marshall was not banished from the history book.

  • Kathy

    I have one horrible pain sydrome called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. I enjoyed the “Need to Know” program but got a 2 for one, news plus humor. The best pain medicine was being able to get belly laughs from Andy’s short headlines for next week. Thank you

  • TC

    (sigh) Despite your best efforts, this one still is leaving me with a diluted finish of NOW-Lite (or worse, NPR-TV); of course with the added detriment of “cheap imitation Stewart/Colbert at the end.”

  • Patti & Gene

    We’re with Matt…. This was a very refreshing creative shift.
    Of course we all miss Bill, but give him a well deserved rest. Thanks Bill!
    Moving on to a potentially great format for exploring timely issues, new faces going places.
    Good move PBS and Need To Know
    Looking forward to more meaningful programming!

  • Megan Graye

    Cute, funny, amusing, cool and fresh. These are terms used to sell consumer products, not to describe valuable, informative programming which enables citizens to maintain a vibrant democracy. I was both dumbstruck and heartbroken that PBS and its powerhouse affiliate WNET was allowing such drivel in such an auspicious time slot. I was very rarely disappointed with NOW or The Journal, and I watched this most recent episode with a jaundiced eye. The interview with the Council on Foreign Relations apologist left me riven with despair, but the expose’ of the Texas State Board of Education reactionary faction was refreshing ray of hope. Thank you for delivering insight on this matter of national importance, and keep delivering more reports like this segment!

  • Leo Burke

    I rue the departure of Bill Moyers as it was such a precious jewel of a program. However, I’m very happy to see that the replacement appears to be first rank program. I missed the first one, but based on what I saw tonight, this time slot will continue to be one that I’ll look forward to. No only is it a top quality, informative program, but I also find the sense of humor refreshing. I wish you folks well, because it is so important to us that we continue to get programming of this caliber.

  • A. Fisher

    Better, but still just oozing pap. I liked the idea of the Thurgood Marshall piece; however, at the end I expected three finger snaps and a curled-lipped “Oh no you didn’t!” Seriously? Is this what I have to look forward to? With the primary colored set and the fluffy stories I think this show should follow Sesame Street rather than Washington Week.

  • Philipp

    I really liked Bill Moyers personally, but what really drew me to his show, and to NOW, were the issues they chose to address. They addressed very uncomfortable issues about the safety and health of our democracy. They spoke up for people who are mostly powerless to speak for themselves. They delved more deeply into the causes of the financial crisis than any corporate media. They had unique and powerful voices in today’s world full of mostly toothless and/or corrupt corporate media.

    In contrast, Need To Know is very wimpy. The first segment about Afghanistan could easily have been on CNN, or worse. The interview was just boilerplate stuff. Both the questions and the answers were uninspired and totally uninformative, a complete waste of time. I appreciated the segment on textbooks in Texas, but the show in general has felt very weak so far.

    The humor that is included in the show is not all that funny and unlike John Stewart or Colbert, it did not use satire to shed light on important issues. Instead, the jokes were somewhat vapid. It is possible to enlighten while lightening the mood.

    PBS is usually differentiated from other media in that it is honest, cares about justice, and is not beholden to corporate interests. As such, it needs to address the issues corporate media shies away from, like net neutrality, finance, privacy, corporate power, the plight of the poor, etc. Please make sure that Need To Know carries on this tradition and sharpens its teeth a lot.


    PS: I don’t think PBS should worry so much about having an innovative, cool, and hip news show and should worry more about having reporting of unparalleled quality, like the content in Bill Moyers Journal and Now.

  • megan foulke

    i discovered this show at 3:45 am and for the 15 minutes it was on it held my attention. kudos! i like it!

  • Candice

    I agree that Andy Borowitz’s bit needs to be longer. It’s the highpoint of the show, in my opinion. Great satire.

  • Philip

    While I found the show reasonably more informative, than say, the evening news, I agree with much of the posted critical comments. This show is no Bill Moyers. Perhaps it’s unpopular to be starkly realistic about the direction of our country (just listen to those zealots on the Texas Board of Education). My biggest fear is that the influence of corporate money (Bill’s last show) on what we see, hear and are lead to believe is permeating even the last bastions of truth. The interview with the corporate insider regarding U.S. policy in Afghanistan particularly needs to contrasted with an alternative version of reality (we hear plenty of his stuff elsewhere!). At no point did the interview challenge his entire premise (we need to be doing this?). No one invoked the “V” word (Vietnam). While we supposedly may be getting better at this approach to foreign policy, no one is questioning it validity in the first place. The only cutting edge piece was Andy. Let’s have more of that. It’s a lot more palpable then processed “news” masquerading as investigative journalism.

  • jan

    Please bring back NOW. I didn’t always agree with them but they were the better show. I appreciate the fact that you went into more depth on the Afghanistan story and it was useful to note that Karzai has always been someone who has formed alliances based on what he thinks will be of the most advantage or use for himself. You didn’t mention it, but I suspect he has used the U.S. as an ATM machine. That said, its obvious that if we’re basing our hopes of achieving goals on someone who joins up with whoever has the most power and money for the moment, this will not be any more successful than Vietnam and we might as well get out now and save some of our soldiers’ lives.

    The Texas schoolboard? Mr. Mackleby (?) is misguided. God didn’t put him on earth to singlehandedly force his point of view on children. That’s what parents do.

    I couldn’t believe the hair-splitting and outright deception that I heard going on. And Mr. Mackleby had the gall to accuse liberals of trying to install propaganda in children? Evolution – see the evolution of staph infection into MRSA or VRSA for the smaller, quicker version. Is expansionism supposed to somehow portray a kinder, gentler America to foreign civilians who died because we decided to “expand”? Free enterprise? If enterprise is free, why do I spend so much at the store? Capitalism is more accurate.

    Why are these people allowed to turn our schoolbooks into tools of propaganda? Perhaps its time the rest of the country declared their independence from the Texas school book syndrome and got together with the book companies to form a set of alternative books to be made available.

  • Jim Jenkins

    Stumbled on to your show doing some channel checking. Liked it. Learned a few things I did not know which is think is the point. From the comments above lamenting this in not Moyers or NOW, I assume the left crowd is upset there is something they do not like on PBS. Too bad, PBS is not their private network. Apparently the right hasn’t found you yet. Otherwise they probably would have condemned the piece on Texas. I think KtK has potential and will only get better. Give Andy a little more time, funny guy. Satire is a good for us all. I will be back next week.

  • Lisa

    Brodner’s piece was fantastic. I found it to be intelligent, clear, and entertaining. A great way to deliver so much information in a really interesting format. Can’t wait to see more! And thanks for the expose on the Texas schoolboard. Very important. I think I’ll like this show.

  • Mara Gretsky

    I, too, thought the Brodner piece was the only redeeming thing in the show. Everything was like poor public radio.

    So I googled him and found these:

    Wow! I hope “Need to Know” can make something half a good!

  • Joseph

    Excellent decision to have Steve Brodner as a contributor to the show. His animated take on Karzai was a refreshing highlight.

  • Gerry

    Borowitz and Brodner are a perfect comic cocktail. Refreshing.

  • Dillard

    I was going to leave this comment on the Next Week’s News page but there are already about 300 comments raving about it there. So let me say it here: laughter’s the best medicine, and Andy Borowitz’s humor inspires the best laughter. More!

  • Mary

    This second show was a definite improvement over last week. Both major stories, Afghanistan and Texas, provided on-the-ground perspective that I have not seen elsewhere. I’m glad that the only relatives I have in Texas do not have school-age children. Keep up the good work. Maybe MPT will eventually air the program at a decent hour, as opposed to 10:30 pm. I fell asleep mid-Afghanistan story and awakened in the middle of the Susan Jacoby interview. Glad I can watch on the website.

  • cw

    I thought TX Textbook segment was pretty good. thanks.

  • Tom in Houston

    I wish the naysayers would get a life. I was just as disappointed as many to see Bill Moyers leave for retirement – but he’s been a liberal lion for 40 years. PBS, he assured viewers, was not “running him off.” Neither Allison nor John are duplicates of Bill and Need to Know is not a replica of the Journal, but it will be OK. These two journalists both have a progressive streak and the willingness and freedom to tackle controversial subjects in a manner that will make Hannity/Limbaugh/O’Reilly, Beck and Cavuto cringe. Give ‘em a chance for cryin’ out loud!

  • William

    Dear Need To Know,
    Congratulations. The May 14 report from Afghanistan was very well done. By allowing the Afghans to speak for themselves, the ANA incompetence and possible double-dealing was made painfully obvious. I hope you can do more reports like it. But most important, this kind of journalism portrays the difficult policy choices we face.
    Furthermore, I wish to suggest an idea about the future Palestinian state. This idea is rooted in a NEWSWEEK article about the Palestinians: Kevin Peraino, “The Gangs of Gaza,” NEWSWEEK, June 26, 2006, pg. 30.
    The first page of this article documents a dispute between two young Palestinians. Moreover, the picture and its accompanying text raises the problem of a strong antagonism within the Palestinian community as well as the conflict between Fatah and Hamas. Given this conflict, what are the possibilities of a stable government and society within a Palestinian state? The point is not to report on intra-Palestinian violence, but to inquire about why these antagonisms exist in the first place. Moreover, and most important, what do they portend for the future once a Palestinian state is formed?
    I am appalled by the juvenile criticism of your program.
    Best wishes,

  • jan

    Just taking a moment to point out the Afghanistan story was told from a “you have to stay in Afghanistan till we win” perspective. There is no way we can win. The time to win was within 4 years of 9/11. The story made the point that the “leader” we’re depending on goes whichever way the wind blows. There is no such thing as common ground with people like the Taliban. It is time to accept reality and get out.

  • Seth

    Honestly I think all of you rabid Moyers fans freaking out about this show are making him look bad. You act like he was some shining beacon for the left wing movement fighting the good fight against Beck and Limbaugh. This really does a disservice to Moyers’ image.

    Moyers was not pre-chewing left-wing propaganda and serving it up to us every Friday night. He conducted meaningful and thoughtful interviews with very interesting people who rarely had their voices heard on TV. His bias was known, sure, but his interviews were always about what his guests believed or accomplished and not about himself. This endless checking and re-checking of the political gauge to evaluate where Need To Know stands in the epic battle for idealogical superiority is immature and at best.

    I always imagined my fellow Moyers viewers as thoughtful people who were more interested in learning something new than they were in some abstract battle for ownership of the philosophical landscape of our country.

  • Petra

    This is my first exposure to Andy Borowitz (I don’t subscribe to The New Yorker) and he really made me laugh. His segment was a bit too rushed, though. I also thought that the Karzai cartoon was amusing. These touches of humor are a great idea.

  • Mom


  • Mom

    I missed some program which featured Vulcan ears. Was it this one? Mr. Spock would approve.

  • Victor Juhasz

    I was impressed by the Afghanistan segment, and concur with others here that the criticisms voiced in this commentary thread seem much more ideologically based than objective. It seems those who hate the program would be happy with nothing less than a segment showing US troops devouring Afghan kids for lunch. Sorry folks, it’s a little more complicated than that. (However I do have one concern- by identifying the ‘informant’, has the program not put his life in jeopardy, assuming his info has creds? There was someone else who had been blurred out. What the the reasoning behind keeping the informant in full focus? )

    Steve Brodner’s piece was very creative and smart (full disclosure- he’s also a friend). It’s refreshing to see illustration incorporated into a TV news program that has a point of view and is informative and not just visual candy.

    Bill Moyers has always been a hero to me. He’s had a great run. Jon Meacham is very smart and runs against the grain in his own way. This is the first program. So, let’s relax a little and allow it to develop.

  • Ann Lawrence

    I was particularly disappointed in you episode on the current battle. It sounded
    like propaganda we used to get in WWII.

    The rest of the program was OK, but NO substitute for “NOW” nor “Bill Moyers Journal.”
    Most TV “news” is center or right wing…and this program is following the line. Please
    give we liberals somewhere to go!

  • John in Arizona

    I told you last week that it was strike one. After watching this, it was strike two. I also decided that in this case, two is enough. I’m tuning out. Good luck.

  • Sandra in PA

    Superficial treatment of too many stories by two young mediocre interviewers. An awkward and highly irritating “team” presentation: first one person says something, then the other one jumps in, and back and forth. A flashy, distracting set. Facebook chatter??!! Yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck. I almost want to cry. I was going to leave my estate to public television when I die because of the wonderful public service they’ve performed over the years with quality, courageous, educational programming. However, I will never support these kinds of programming changes: superficial coverage that caused me to flee the major networks, and way too much entertainment (the most hated of all — doo wop). Please come to your senses. The young viewers you are chasing are watching Lady Gaga videos and Avatar. Meanwhile, you are alienating and losing your core viewers — the ones who support public TV because of quality programming that can’t be found elsewhere. Danger ahead!

  • Susan Nimchick

    Are conservatives rewriting history? In this segment of the May 14th show, why wasn’t the question as to who or what political agency is behind these conservatives on the School Board and directing them with what words are to be changed and the substituted word(s) or phrases? Who is behind these few individuals who are the facade?
    Thank you,

  • E. Rivers

    The Afghanistan story was the same old thing – there were a few tweaks, but essentially it promoted the war. This is hardly “investigative journalism”.

    The illustrator’s segment had some good information, but really didn’t need to have the eye candy. It suggests that your audience needs infotainment, not facts. Do you think NOW & Moyers viewers want to be dumbed down?

    The Texas education segment had some teeth to it. How their biased decisions influences our children’s education. That was a step in the right direction.

    The secularism seemed dumbed down. And, after such a watered down news program, I really don’t care for Andy’s humor.

    What I found disturbing was your analysis of your viewer’s letters. Didn’t you read the PBS ombudsman’s comments & column? “Most of the letters” were not complimentary. The pooh poohing of “fluffy kitten” stories was idiotic, I’m sure Meacham knew exactly what the author meant. Do you listen to us or not? We need shows that enlighten, not entertain.

  • Mandy Heller

    I wish that you would allot more time to Andy Borowitz – he was just getting going, our living room was rocking with laughter, and then it was over.

  • Mary M.

    I happened on this program this morning by accident, having missed church.

    I tuned in just in time to catch a portion of the Texas textbook controversy. What I would like to know is why no one from the Texas BOE was included in the conversation to provide balance to the discussion.

    I found it somewhat amusing that Leftists were so flabbergasted that the points of view which they have been imposing on school children for numerous decades are now being questioned, and overruled. It appears the shoe is on the other foot, and “y’all” don’t like the fit. Welcome to the club!!! We haven’t liked the fit for most of our lifetimes!

    I was particularly taken by the objection by feminists that the textbooks were to point out that the vote to allow women to vote was done by men. Well, duh!!! They were the only ones who had the vote at the time! Granted, women did protest, and that history should also be included, but they were not able, by themselves, to get the vote.

    History has been so rewritten and slanted for years that when facts glossed over or ignored are brought to light, the Left is going ballistic. Tough!

  • jason

    The show is still very new and you are still finding your sea legs but………. Kill the nonsense at the end. Why do you want to be like every other show on TV. tackle serious issues and maintain that tone through out. We will get our laughs somewhere else.

    Remember the shows you have come in to replace. There was no news program more powerful than the bill moyers Journal…none. He has delivered a solid audience that have come to expect insightful, meaningful and serious commentary on our beloved country. Do not drive your audience away by trying to be hip and cool…..Your audience is hip and cool and we are devoted to Bill Moyers because he focused on the issues and only that.

    I hope my post is not viewed in a negative light, but I was hoping you would be prepared and come out of the gates swinging hard. The Texas Board issue was welcome…….There is just so much going on, you dont have enough time to fit it into a 50min program so use your time wisely. Believe me the audience will leave and just stick to getting their news from NPR.

    PS: kill that comedy at the end and maybe replace it with an insightful essay like bill used to do…..Dont try to entertain us, just INFORM us.

  • Rae

    The Borowitz bit at the end is, so far, my one reason for watching this show. It’s smart and funny and UNLIKE everything else on PBS. I will increase my pledge because someone had the sense (and guts) to put him on the air.

  • Alan

    None of the commenters thus far has mentioned the balance given to foreign and domestic issues, nor to the balance between gravity and levity in the program. A moment’s reflection on the format suggests that the program was thoughtfully put together, and this fact is in itself praiseworthy.
    I find it hard to believe that regular Bill Moyers viewers would carp over this or that stylistic aspect in a new program. Constructive criticism on substantive issues would make more sense.

  • Diane Stevens

    I tried to have an open mind and give the new show a fair chance, but it really doesn’t deserve it. An honest look at Afghanistan would be”Rethink Afghanistan” not the fluff piece that aired on the show. And why tackle so many topics in one hour show? I really doubt that I will watch again.

  • Tom Rogers

    First, let me say that Andy Borowitz is superb. Do not listen to any Sad Sacks that cannot appreciate his great sense of humour! Secondly, the big issue that seemed to catch many people’s attention was the Texas textbook story. I don’t live in the U.S., and I didn’t see the full coverage, although I have seen other commentaries about it. Let me just say that the ignorance and manipulation exercised by these completely misguided individuals with such arrogance is truly frightening. It’s made more so, because from what I understand from other sources is that since Texas purchases more school textbooks than any other state, text book publishers will tend to write the kind of books that Texas will be willing to buy, and then turn around and sell them to every other school board in the U.S.. That is really sad. Thirdly, I did watch and listen to the interview with the woman who writes about social issues, and the topic was the separation of church and state. One observation she made was fraught with over simplification. She said quite off-handedly that hospitals operated under the auspices of the Catholic Church are not allowed to remove life assisting interventions from terminally ill patients, even if they request it, or in the case of coma, their living will requests it. So, she said, the patient, or their family (or their surrogate) would have to remove them to a hospital that will comply with their wishes. This is not true. The situation is very complicated and complex. Excessive medical intervention which will not result in a patient’s full recovery is not mandatory if it appears to serve no curative purpose and in fact is the cause of great physical discomfort. As for ceasing to provide food and hydration, while this must be continued for as long as the patient is clinically alive, it can be removed if the method of delivery is such that the patient cannot physically tolerate the presence of the delivery methods due to a breakdown in the body’s own ability to receive any further benefit from them. If your guest was moved to site an example of how a religious community can impose its own directives on the general public while receiving government grants, she should have known more about the subject she chose before she opened her mouth! P.S. I will miss Bill Moyers and David Broncacio. They were insightful and thoughtful reporters and commentators. Remember, imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and in this case, the greatest service you can do for your viewers.

  • John

    You let your bias slip with the Susan Jacoby interview. Now if you wanted an intelligent and historically factual discussion of “separation of church and state” you would interview David Barton as well. And ,if you took any time reading most of American history, rather than selected or distorted excerpts, you(and Ms. Jacoby) might be surprised at what you find. Take the “public square” for example-. Thomas Jefferson was the first President to have church(various Christian denominations) services organized and performed in the Congress on Sundays and other Federal buildings as well. Oh by the way ,the National Day of Prayer is not a “recent” phenomenon–for example “A Day of National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln on April 30, 1863. It has this really secularist wording in it like; “it is the duty of nations as well as of men,to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God”; “to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is Lord:” : “…we have vainly imagined…some superior wisdom and virtue of our own…too proud to pray to the God that made us !” And lest we forget that other secularist proclamation of George Washington(also requested by Congress) for November 26, 1789 –”a day of public thanksgiving and prayer”; “favors of Almighty God” ;”our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations”; “to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue…” Maybe if you do some real research ,balanced discussion and editing your show may last more than one season. Otherwise, I can turn on MSNBC and get the same ideological story line and humor.

  • Connie

    Pretty amateur production, especially the hosts and the “hip” graphics. The cartoonist segment looked like the only thing produced and edited by professionals.

    The end piece is OK, but there’s enough noise in the world without PBS adding to it.

  • TC

    And I say, give this influx of the Bored-outta-my-Witz Street Team here the credence of a grain of salt. I for one fail to see how this smug mug’s the best thing since Wonder Bread or how his patter is any more distinctive than your basic garden variety late nite show monologue zingers.

    If “the good ol’ shows” were still on, I could well imagine by this time that we’d have been treated to a sharp and thorough examination of offshore oil drilling and all its machinations – to cite but one rather disastrous current event; not this cursory leap-frogging over sprinkled topics with a creamy froth of smug, smarmy snarkiness on top for a finish. Call me a killjoy if you must, but I’m starving for on-target investigative coverage…. just like we used to have before May ’10 began.

  • Mack Niller

    I find it amusing that several posts complain about “corporate sponsors” and “corporate news” – take a look at the funding below. CPB and PBS are THE major funders of this program. The rest is foundation grants.

    Go the PBS Newshour’s site, you’ll see that they take cash from Chevron, Monsanto, Bank of America, to name just three of the corporations with questionable interest in The News.

    Criticizing the program on its merits is one thing, making baseless accusations another. Get your facts straight people.

  • Lee

    Re: The National Day of Prayer segment
    The Susan Jacoby intereview was interesting — especially her comment about how we got along without a National Day of Prayer until the 1950′s. Funny, we also got along without a REVEREND Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a long time too. Matter of convenience that she is able to allow a Christian preacher to have a named federal holiday (time off etc.) for his work on Civil Rights that was largely conducted through the church, from the pulpit and supported by religous individuals and groups who prayed and worked for a peaceful conclusion to the struggle for Civil Rights by all. Yet, she dismisses a National Day of Prayer which is not a federal holiday, and largley a symbolic acknowledgement of the fact that the prayers said from the founding fathers through, MLK and up to today have changed the lives of many.

  • Carlotta

    I’m from a family of confirmed Borowitz addicts, so thank you for giving us our fix! He is flat-out wonderful on this show.

  • Brian Stauffer

    In a media landscape packed with talking heads, I found the Steve Brodner segment to be informative with a clarity that no news footage could capture. The combination of artistry, animation, and solid information is to be applauded. More, more.

  • Mark Carlton

    Reply to John: The fact that any number of Presidents called for a day of prayer, whether in response to a war, natural disaster, or other serious event does not necessarily imply that they wished to impose a certain religious ideology on the nation. In fact, especially in the 18th century they were careful NOT to try to do that, mindful of the recent religious wars in Europe. They were absolutely concerned about concepts such as “virtue”, as you mention, and insofar as prayer and reflection made people more virtuous they were for it. Conservatives tend to believe that all (Christian) prayer is virtuous, forgetting that Christian Americans have prayed for many things over the years (slavery, the subjugation of Native Americans,etc.) that we today would have a hard time calling virtuous. That is why white-washing textbooks is so scary. We cannot learn from our mistakes if we refuse to admit making them. John, would you have German schools stop teaching World War II to young Germans? Would you have them change Nazism to Nationalism? Concentration camps to relocation facilities?

  • Russ Hodin

    Thanks for including the brilliant work of Steve Brodner, it helps make the discussion “stick.”

  • P McBrayer

    My piano teacher likes you! I concur. Yup, we need a laugh, least of all at the end of the week. Hard times, thoughtfulness, introspection, humor.

  • P McBrayer

    PS. Brodner’s history in morphing graphics is mesmerizing.

  • Cynthia

    Every time there is humor in this program, it works. That’s the formula that has made the New Yorker such a success — substantive reporting and smart laughs. There should be more cartoon segments like Brodner’s and much more airtime for Borowitz.

  • guillermo a. ramirez

    I am an attentive fifty-one year old who had the privilege of serving in the U.S. Army. I am both a conservative when it comes to constructive traditions and laws that serve those least advantaged. I think you two young people on the show rock and I have enjoyed each and every minute of the so far two episodes. Please keep up the good work and do your duty for your country as you see it.

  • Jan Hilley

    I found the second program a slight improvement over the first but where is the spine? Where is the thoughtful, substantive analysis? I really have a hard time watching Meacham… he doesn’t project energy, enthusiasm, real curiosity or interest…He doesn’t seem to be enjoying the program any more than I am… And the ‘humor’ bit at the end just makes me uncomfortable. I think Borowitz can be funny but somehow it just seems to fall flat … and not quite appropriate. If the goal is to insert something slightly different and maybe a bit lighter, at least the Brodner piece was creative. So far, I feel really let down by WNET and PBS.

  • Arlo

    Borowitz hit a bullseye with his piece. Looking forward to more from him. Also liked the Brodner cartoon a lot.

  • Dee

    CBS does it better….60 Minutes. Of course I suppose someone from the New Yorker must trump Andy Ronney.

  • John

    In response to Mark Carlton’s response to my comment. Mark, what I was trying to convey was the fallacy of Ms. Jacoby’s statement that we had gotten by for over 200 years without a national day of prayer. She was also distorting American history at its founding, that there was a “wall of separation between church and state”. This is a singular statement by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists not in the Constitution itself. Three days after this letter Jefferson attended church services within the Capitol itself. He was trying to assure the Baptists the Federal government would not establish a national church since it was prohibited from doing so through the establishment clause in the Constitution . At the time of the signing of the Constitution, various states had recognized certain Christian denominations as their official state religion, but the founders didn’t want a “national” religion as was the practice in Europe. You are correct, history should not be “white washed” but neither should it be ignored or falsified. History should be presented in its truthful entirety ,not altered or omitted. The reporter never challenged her assertions but at the beginning of the interview said how he admired her writings ! Yes, some professing Christians may have prayed for non-virtuous actions, but I don’t believe certain secularists have any moral superiority in their non-prayer actions either( i.e. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Kim Il Jung, etc.) . “Need to Know” really needs to know what real reporting is versus biased opinion.

  • Drew

    I agree 60 Minutes is much better. I think this program needs to do stories that haven’t been done in a much better way by other news organizations. It’s a good idea though just keep trying harder!

  • Mady Goldstein

    I am very sorry that The Journal with Bill Moyers was not replaced with a clone–a one-on-one intimate interview style program that probes issues that no one in main stream media wants to tackle. Replacing it with a magazine type program featuring a series of interviews on various subjects just does not do it for me.

    I watched the first program and that was my last. I very much miss both David Brancaccio of NOW who did a much better job than Need to Know in my opinion, and I also miss Bill Moyer’s Journal. It is that short and that sweet.