Tuesday, August 16, 2005

That TV Show: What Happened

Yesterday the Montgomery Community Television show Citizens Link cancelled a planned segment called "Health Education Where do we go from here?" The show was supposed to be taped last night, and the producers cancelled it.

Let me walk through some of what happened, as we have pieced it together.

It appears that producer Alice Gordon arranged to have a full half-hour of the anti-tolerance group Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum discussing this topic, even though they have worked and sued to oppose improvements in the MCPS health curriculum.

The show was going to have a guest host, Don Mooers, a local lawyer who I understand has ambitions to run for political office. When he discovered what the show was going to be about, and who the producers had arranged as guests, he asked an acquaintance of his, Maryland Delegate Anne Kaiser, to appear on the second half of the show.

At the same time, Citizen Link published their intended guest link and immediately received a number of emails protesting the one-sidedness of the show. These emails were later described online by the producers as "attacks."

I have obtained one of these "attacks." What do you think?

Can I inquire why only one side is presented in this item noted below?

There has been plenty for support for the past proposed curriculum in health education.

It would seem both sides should be presented and heard.

I would like to include this item Richard Cohen left off in his bio to you and want to know if this item will be noted to viewers on a county channel that my tax dollars help pay for.


Are you going to now include the other side to this issue in equal time?

Please note their has been great opposition to CRC and their friends PFOX.

Please check out www.teachthefacts.org and please include reading of the blog contained http://www.teachthefacts.org/vigilance.html.

There are two sides to this issue. Present both sides. Contact

and it gave a couple of our phone numbers.

How vicious is that "attack?" I have not heard of any that were any more extreme than that.

We learned that the producers also complained that they had been "attacked" on this blog. Interestingly, they did not stick with that story, and did not mention the blog to most people they talked with. Go on back and look what we blogged HERE. Yes, I scolded them for not doing their homework, and complained that tax-supported TV should not be covering up the facts about someone like Richard Cohen. Yes, I said some negative things about Cohen, but not really any worse than The Post this morning. I didn't mention that he was unlicensed, or that he got his degree in some satellite campus in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The fact is, Richard Cohen has no business discussing the future of health education in Montgomery County -- he doesn't even live here.

At least two people independently contacted the guest host, Don Mooers, and suggested that former citizens advisory chair David Fishback would provide an excellent balance to the show. Ms. Kaiser contacted Fishback and arranged it; the show's producers agreed but, we noticed, never posted Fishback's name on the web site.

Cohen's name was deleted, and only Kaiser's was added.

It seems, from reliable sources, that as soon as these changes were announced, the CRC contingent -- Michelle Turner, Steve Fisher, and Ruth Jacobs -- backed out.

The producers had contacted guests with some information about the show, and included this statement:
Our Production Team has received numerous messages from members both for and against the proposed MCPS Health Curriculum and have decided on the following guest line up. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

We find that interesting, that the "numerous messages" came from both sides. Let us not forget that.

The planned one-sided show falling apart on them, the producers posted an announcement on the Internet which I blogged earlier, but it might be worthwhile to go through:
Notice From The Producers

August 15, 2005

This notice is to inform our viewers that it is with great regret, we have decided to cancel the Citizens Link to Community Awareness, Show #11, entitled "Health Education, Where Do We Go From Here?"

We wish to thank all our members for their hard work in preparing for this show, our hope was to build awareness of the upcoming new Health & Family Life Curriculum for MCPS students, by inviting guests with different special knowledge and experience.

Unfortunately, after only hours of posting our intended guest line up on the Citizens Link website, we began to receive email attacks to both our program and our volunteer Host. Because our focus on the show is to build stronger families and community through information and awareness, our goal was beginning to be lost.

Conflict of guest scheduling and cancellations has placed a tremendous strain on our resources. We wish to express our deepest apologies for any inconvenience.

Just to dissect this a little bit...

our hope was to build awareness of the upcoming new Health & Family Life Curriculum for MCPS students, by inviting guests with different special knowledge and experience. This of course is false. They had initially planned to present one side, the radical opposition to the county's majority position. This statement suggests that they had planned to present this monolithic bunch as they had "different special knowledge and experience," which would have been even more of a hoax.

... we began to receive email attacks to both our program and our volunteer Host. Interestingly, people who have discussed the situation with the host say he never mentioned any attacks. I just showed you one of the "attacks," above, and I do know that the producers tried to allege that my blog piece attacked them. If it is true that there were "email attacks," please, I offer to publish on this blog any messages that the producers would like to provide to us, as evidence that they were attacked.

our focus on the show is to build stronger families and community through information and awareness -- this does make you wonder why they had invited such a biased, anti-educational group to appear on the show then. The CRC's view of sex education is that it should promote ignorance of sexual variation and ignorance of safe sex techniques. Is that "information and awareness?"

our goal was beginning to be lost Hey, isn't this really the issue? CRC had planned to pull off a small-time media coup here, putting forward themselves as experts in health education. The goal was beginning to be lost mainly because of the pure nuttiness of it -- the public was not going to let them get away with it. Was this public statement then issued to conceal the fact that CRC backed out of the show once it became known that other opinions would be allowed?

One of the scheduled guests, Anne Kaiser, who is a gay Maryland state delegate, wrote this articulate note to the show's producers:

I was sorry to hear about the cancellation, especially so late in the day. I would have hoped for a phone call. I was nearing the time that I was leaving to pick-up my car and then go to the studio.

I do appreciate the difficulties that you faced after scheduling such a controversial topic. However, I'm sorry that you decided to cancel, because the citizens of Montgomery County deserve to hear from both sides on this very important, but divisive issue. There is no question that this topic elicits great emotion from both sides of the issue. However, public policy must be shaped by facts, tempered and modified by values, but ultimately by facts. The CRC proponents base their advocacy on mistruths, emotions, fears, and feelings of hatred for people like me.

Given the opportunity to promote the facts (like Teach The Facts.org does everyday) and to positively promote homosexuals as positive and contributing members of the community (what I strive to do everyday) --- I was disappointed that you cancelled the show. Like you, I strive to promote community and family through information and awareness. I'm sorry that today, we both lost the opportunity to advance information and awareness in the county.

-Anne Kaiser

In sum, here's what happened yesterday, as nearly as we can tell:
  • Citizens Link planned a TV show to showcase the CRC's radical viewpoint as if it were mainstream.
  • The public complained, the guest host noted the imbalance, and he invited guests who represented an alternative point of view.
  • CRC refused to go on the show with the new line-up.
  • Citizens Link posted an announcement blaming "email attacks" for the cancellation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Citizens Link should provide those email attacks or quit using them as an excuse to bolster getting caught planning a one sided show with CRC/PFOX (Cohen) and company.

Taxpayers complained and Citizens Link who is funded by those same taxpayers now say complaints are attacks. Get real... truth especially about Cohen is never a lie or slander. He is a farce..they booked a farce without checking credentials or facts.

Incredible and looks to be a little bit (a lot) of less than full truth disclosure by Citizens Link...on why they only booked CRC members, Cohen and company in the first place.

August 16, 2005 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold on a sec... This whole debate about whether the e-mails were "complaints" or "attacks" misses the point. The real question is: Were the complaints JUSTIFIED? These complaints were simply noting the fact that the line-up of the show was one-sided. So if the complaints really were uncalled for, the producer could have defended the show against them and explained why it was indeed the right decision to only present the CRC point of view. But she didn't. It really doesn't matter whether the e-mails were complaints or attacks, after all -- what matters is that the complaints exposed the political agenda of the producer and forced her into an amusingly embarrassing situation. You know, for all the CRC's talk of holding the government "accountable" to the wishes of its citizens (even a tiny minority of them), it's nice to know that accountability works both ways.

August 16, 2005 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon #2....you are right on.....

August 16, 2005 4:13 PM  

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