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Need to Know, August 20, 2010

This week on Need to Know: Jon Meacham travels to lower Manhattan to explore the history of religious freedom there, in light of the recent controversy over a proposed mosque near Ground Zero. (See our online coverage of President Obama’s remarks on the proposed Cordoba House here.) Then: After seven years in Iraq, the U.S. mission there has changed dramatically, from “shock and awe” to “advise and assist.” We talk to Middle East scholar Juan Cole about whether peace is possible in Iraq.


Writer Gary Shteyngart, author of the best-seller “Super Sad True Love Story,” discusses what he sees as the impending collapse of America, and reveals how often he updates his Facebook page. (You can read Need to Know’s review of “Super Sad True Love Story,” including an online interview with Shteyngart, here.) Need to Know medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay examines the risks of blood transfusions (including two First Look videos here and here). And resident satirist Andy Borowitz asks this question: Is a college education really worth it?

Watch the individual segments:
Changing the U.S. mission in Iraq

Seven years after the start of the war in Iraq, the U.S. mission there has changed dramatically. Middle East scholar Juan Cole discusses the new phase, and whether peace is possible in Iraq.
Blood Test: What you don’t know about blood
Since World War ll, blood has been considered “the gift of life.” But today a growing number of experts are questioning whether blood transfusions should be so widely used. For more about transfusions, watch these First Look videos on the Centers for Disease Control’s new “hemovigilance” program, and the more than 100 blood management initiatives at hospitals across the country.
Gary Shteyngart on dachshunds, Lenin and Twain

Best-selling author Gary Shteyngart’s new book is about a future society where technology rules. So how often does he update his own Facebook page? Jon Meacham finds out in this hard-hitting interview. Read Need to Know’s review of “Super Sad True Love Story,” including an online interview with Shteyngart, from July.
The religious history of lower Manhattan

Jon Meacham travels to lower Manhattan to explore the history of religious freedom there, in light of the controversy over a proposed Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero. For more on the controversy, read Need to Know’s previous online coverage of President Obama’s remarks on the mosque project.
Five things you need to know about Gulf Seafood
Having second thoughts about that shrimp kebab or grouper sandwich? Alison Stewart tells you what you need to know about eating seafood from the Gulf.
Next week’s news: College edition

A lot of people have been asking themselves lately whether a college education is really worth it. So this week, Andy turns to two PBS pals for answers: Elmo and Ken Burns.


  • Norika Dormaine Edmond

    Please forgive me for getting up on my soap box but: during the Roman Era and for over 100 years after its fall the Jewish nation hunted down followers of Christ. During the Middle Ages in Europe, Christians murdered and forcefully converted Jews, Muslims, and Non-Christians. They even invented Solvent Nations, burning Holy places and stealing religious holy objects and cultural items, many of which are now in western Museums. We in the name of Christ destroyed most of the American Native Cultures. -Forcefully converted hundred of cultures to our Christianity, thereby destroying their cultures too. We have done our own Holocausts (Judea and Christendom). One person or even one hundred people doing something in the name of a religion does not make the religion Labial.
    The more we let racist, hateful and narrow minded people rule over our nation’s voice the more other nations will hate us. We defeat evil with love not more hate.

  • Valentina Stamenova

    So happy and impressed with all individual segments this evening! Thank you.

    Here is my suggestion: please interview Suzzy Miller ( on WELCOME TO A BRAND NEW VIEW OF AUTISM!

    There are many remarkable people whom I would love to introduce to you.

    Kindest regards,
    Valentina Stamenova

  • Anton Grambihler

    You need to send a copy of George Washington’s letter to Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • Sherman Ryan

    I think you should add a cooking segment about pancakes and finish off this program.

    I find it difficult to believe PBS is still devoting resources to this progarm.

    The format is more suitable for Comedy Cental the serious journalism we should expect from PBS.

  • Kaalde

    Hi! The program is not only informative but entertaining as well. Although Bill Moyers is irreplaceable, you two did a very civil and enlightening program. Thank you.

  • John Duggan, Manhattan, New York City

    Jon Meacham. Thank you for your interesting and informative segment on intolerance and religious freedom in lower Manhattan. In 30+ years of living in New York City I have never been bothered by a single Church, Synagogue or one of the 100+ Mosques already here. There are problems here in NYC! They do not include community centers that happen to include additional places for people to pray. It is reassuring to know that the majority of my Manhattan neighbors support the project: “53% to 31%, with 16% unsure”. [Wikipedia]. Your timely and courageous piece was a valuable segment in one of the better Need To Know programs. Thanks again!

  • Graeme Marsh, New Mexico

    The piece on Religious Freedom by Jon Meacham was brilliant, and should be compulsory viewing for all middle and high school students. At last an intellectual and well researched response to this issue of a Mosque in NYC that just happens to be near the former World Trade Center.

    If only Murdoch and the other media conglomerates were as responsible, may be this nation would not be in such bad shape.

  • CSL, Texas

    Thank you Mr. Meacham for your history segment on religious freedom issues. So glad that I have my DVD set because you are proving over and over again that the we really do need to know — more!
    We appreciate your program and plan to contribute more to the local PBS station this year to make sure we will be able to continue to watch “Need to Know.”

  • Regina Shujaa

    This is the first time I watched this show. This was an excellent show. Thanks for clearing up the many falsehoods we’ve heard about the Constitution and religious freedom. I’ve been watching this whole controversy in disbelief. Even the Pentagon, the other Ground Zero, allows Muslims to have a mosque there.