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PBS’s Side of the Story


For the record, here is what PBS is saying (in an email to me): “Islam vs. Islamists” was one of 21 films commissioned by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for public television under the America at a Crossroads banner. CPB, WETA and PBS strongly believe in the film’s subject matter. “Islam vs. Islamists” is not being suppressed or silenced. It competed for, but did not win a slot in the series premiering on Sunday. The series is blessed with strong entries including: Richard Perle’s “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom,” Irshad Manji’s “Faith Without Fear,” and Karl and Ann Zinsmeister’s “Warriors.” We are hoping to see “Islam vs. Islamists” broadcast as a stand-alone special under the Crossroads banner (where it will join three other Crossroads films already so-designated) on public television stations across the country. The producers — Mr. Burke and Mr. Gaffney — like every other producer in the Crossroads project, have a grant agreement. We are waiting for them to fulfill their obligations under that agreement, including the delivery of a finished product that comports with the same production standards that all other Crossroads producers – and for that matter all PBS producers — must follow. In fairness to Mr. Gaffney, we recognize that he believes his film is completed. Public broadcasting officials have expressed concerns that the film may not comply with established PBS standards. PBS and WETA are currently preparing a new document that will connect the standards with specific editing requests. This prickly situation is not without precedent. In all media, print and broadcasting, it is not uncommon for producers and writers who believe passionately in their subject matter to be in conflict with their editors. We are attempting to facilitate a meaningful conversation among the parties so Mr. Burke and Mr. Gaffney’s film can receive precise editing requests and justification for such requests.


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