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August 24, 2007

PBS Ombudsman Responds to "My Fellow Texan"

This column was posted by PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler on Friday. August 24, 2007.

Over the last many years, reporters have grown fond of the once-secret tape recordings of White House conversations made by former President Richard Nixon. They are sometimes jokingly referred to as “the gift that keeps on giving,” not just because each new batch that gets released is likely to reveal something new, but because they almost always produce stories and give journalists and commentators something to write about.

I’m beginning to think the same way about Bill Moyers and his weekly Journal on PBS. A few months ago, soon after Moyers returned as a regular to PBS, I said, half-jokingly, that there may need to be an ombudsman just for Moyers. Since then, I’ve written about segments of his programs, in response to viewer comments, several times, and Moyers and I have also aired our differences in this space. Actually, I’d rather not spend so many of my columns on one person or series of programs, but, like the Nixon tapes, the Journal and Moyers keep on providing material that viewers react to and that the ombudsman hears about.

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August 22, 2007

Response to "My Fellow Texan"

Rick Byrne, Director of Communications, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL:

In his comment on the blog, Mr. Deal Hudson has asked Bill Moyers to apologize for his piece about Karl Rove's departure (watch here), which aired last Friday, August 17. Hudson posted part of an email he says he received from Rove after Hudson sent him a copy of Moyers' comments. Rove replied to Hudson: "I am a believing Christian who attends his neighboring Episcopal parish church."

It is not surprising that Deal Hudson would take on the role of defending Karl Rove. They have been allies in implementing the very political strategy for religion of which Bill Moyers was critical. According to this published report, Mr. Hudson was an adviser to the Republican National Committee and a "regular White House visitor" where he helped implement Rove’s efforts to coordinate conservative Christian and Republican politics.

One conservative Catholic activist was quoted in the story as saying: "The White House has a Catholic strategy and its name is Deal Hudson." Mr. Hudson himself wrote in a November 2003 letter, also quoted in the report: "I continue to lead an informal Catholic advisory group to the White House, as well as communicate with various White House personnel almost every day regarding appointments, policy, and events. These efforts have helped to place faithful, informed Catholics in positions of influence."

Rove’s statement to Mr. Hudson was similar to what Rove said on Sunday, August 19, in an appearance on Fox News Sunday when he was shown a clip from Bill Moyers' comments by anchor Chris Wallace. Yesterday, Bill Moyers addressed the Chris Wallace interview and Rove's reaction to the clip in a letter to Fox News Sunday below:

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