PBS Election Special Is Reminder Why It Shouldn't Be Publicly Funded
On Tuesday, the broadcast of the first presidential debate since “Big Bird” and PBS funding became an allegedly huge campaign issues, will be sandwiched (depending on what time zone you live in) by a PBS election special called “Race 2012.”
The hour-long documentary is being advertised as a “provocative conversation about race and politics,” from “both sides of the political aisle,” but it is being grossly mis-marketed. I know this because I was interviewed for and have already seen the film.
The program really deals very little with the 2012 election. It starts off pretending to be about the presidential campaign, but really isn’t at all - at least not directly. Instead it quickly devolves into a short history of how inherently racist the United States of America is, how aggrieved racial minorities still are, and how horrible white people, especially conservative white people, can be.
The brief section which deals with President Obama is a complete joke. Literally none of the “experts/commentators” whose interviews were used during that portion of the film are white. It is almost as if the film’s producers think a white person commenting on Obama is as fundamentally illegitimate as most liberals seem to think of a man’s opinion on abortion.
This is not just idle conjecture on my part. I gave the producers two separate interviews (both of which the producers went out of their way to lavishly praise), each of which was at least an hour long. Of that time, at least a full half hour was spent talking about the Barack Obama, about whose election I made a rather higher profile documentary of my own called “Media Malpractice.”
And yet, despite having - among many other things - declared Obama’s election to be “the most racist event I have ever witnessed,” not even one word from my statements about the president made it into the film. Instead, in the opening montage, they show me saying, "People are afraid to talk about race because they will be accused of being a racist, I am just too stupid to abide by that." (Keep in mind, I was the lone white/male/conservative interviewed for the documentary and the vast majority of whose interviewees were people “of color.”)
What made this odd omission even stranger was that a rather innocuous statement I made during my interviews was one of the first clips used in the film’s opening montage. When I saw that, being a filmmaker myself, my “spidey senses” were instantly tingling. The sound bite just seemed out of place and my “most racist event ever” quote would have been a much more logical choice, especially for a show which claimed that it wanted to be “provocative.”
So when I was invited to the premiere of the film (ironically at USC’s Annenberg School, the same place where I was briefly handcuffed for trying to ask questions about why the school was giving a journalism award to Katie Couric for her infamous Sarah Palin interview), I asked one of the producers what happened with that section. Sure enough, she confirmed my suspicions. My “most racist event ever” snippet had indeed been in that place up until the last week or so of editing when it was suddenly clipped out; this also explained why I was completely absent from the Obama section of film, as once they took my clip out of the opening, there was nothing forcing them to have my view on the president represented in thereafter.
I then went to the film’s director, Phillip Rodriquez, and asked him the same question. He confirmed that my statements about Obama had indeed been edited out, but when I pressed him for an explanation, he lamely tried to claim that it somehow worked better for the focus of the film. When I joked with him that he clearly had wimped out and was afraid to have anything too harsh towards Obama air on PBS, he didn’t even try to refute my assertion.
I want to make it clear, having been in many editing rooms myself, obviously one suspect choice does not prove bias. However, here there is plenty of other evidence to show that this film is nothing more than a PBS-sponsored liberal hatchet job on conservatives which doesn’t even pretend to be fair (although, laughably, I do think that the producers probably think that they were being reasonable, which shows just how sealed in the liberal echo chamber they really are).
The film is done almost completely from the perspective of liberal people of color. It perpetuates and justifies a grievance mentality among minorities. It claims without evidence that the Romney campaign is using coded language to denigrate minorities. It actively enables every ugly stereotype about whites and conservatives without even coming close to being an equal opportunity offender.
My own participation in the film is emblematic of this sad reality.
Given that I knew I was dealing with liberals (a conservative working on a documentary about race airing on PBS would be a bigger upset than if Obama actually took responsibility for something having gone wrong), my expectations for the outcome were low, but I was still extremely disappointed.
My first interview experience was fine and I was actually lulled into thinking that my perspective might get a fair shake as those doing the interview seemed to actually be in secret agreement with much of what I said. But my second interview, this time with Rodriguez, was so bizarre that my suspicions started to quickly reemerge.
Quite simply, either by design, or because he himself is what his fellow liberals in the media would consider to be a “racist” (or, perhaps a little bit of both), Rodriquez was clearly trying to bait me into saying something racist on camera.
He went out of his way to make numerous overtly racist jokes in an obvious attempt to create the impression that such talk was acceptable in this “provocative” discussion of race. Among other things, he desperately wanted me to lament the loss of “white power” or to say something supporting the notion that whites should fight back against our perceived loss of influence in society.
Because I was consciously aware that this was what he was trying to do, and because I am quite experienced at this game, I didn’t give him what he sought. Thus, not coincidentaly, I have what is almost certainly the smallest part in the film (which again, being the lone white/male/conservative is rather symbolic of the program’s overall intent and outcome).
The “funniest” part of this whole equation is that the people who worked on the film were really nice to me and actually seemed to genuinely think that I would be pleased with the outcome. In some ways this may be the strongest evidence that those who produce content for PBS really do have a mentality that is so far to the left that they have literally lost the ability to sense just how far from the “middle” they really are. It is very obvious that, to them, giving a white/male/conservative even a small, purposely muted, say in their (at least partly publicly funded) film is an act of great generosity/fairness.
So, I have two pieces of advice for Tuesday night’s viewing. One, unless you are prepared to view it as a dark comedy, skip “Race 2012.” Two, root hard for Mitt Romney to win so that maybe our tax dollars will no longer go towards programming which openly insults millions of tax-paying Americans.
The real lesson of “Race 2012” is that PBS is a lot more dangerous than just Big Bird.