What a Report on South Korea's Dog-Eating Ban Teaches Us About PBS

January 12th, 2024 1:14 AM

The Public Broadcasting System is often exposed for what it is: a publicly-funded hotbed of progressive propaganda disguised as news. Left-wing biases hard-baked into its editorial lines and delivered with calm tones. But if you look hard enough, from time to time you’ll find a report that exemplifies what news delivery should be.

In this case, though, that report happens to be a 47-second filler piece on South Korea’s newly-enacted ban on the production and sale of dog meat for human consumption. 

Watch the report in its entirety as aired on PBS NewsHour on Tuesday, January 9th, 2024:

AMNA NAWAZ: A new South Korean law will ban the centuries-old practice of raising and selling dogs for food. Parliament voted today to ban the production and sale of dog meat. Animal-rights groups pushed for the change, but reactions among the general public were mixed. 

LEE SOO-JIN: I am raising my children and a dog together. The dog is my third child. I'm so glad the bill was passed today. Consuming dog meat should never happen again in the future. 

KIM BONG OK: I don't eat dog meat, but it's been consumed for a long time in our country. It's a unique part of our culture. It’s not like everyone’s consuming it. It’s just a matter of preference.

NAWAZ: The law is set to take effect after a three-year grace period.

The report checks every box. First, there is the basic, dispassionate presentation of facts. There was really no framing except to note that the bill was promoted by animal rights activists. Although anchor Amna Nawaz noted that public opinion is split, she said nothing that would tip viewers off as to her own particular ideological preferences one way or the other. She neither condemned those traditionalists who support eating dog meat, nor hailed the enlightenment of those who think the centuries-old tradition is barbaric. 

Second, both sides of the debate were presented to the public with a roughly even allocation of time for each spokesperson. No side got extra time, or an additional spokesperson. No position was linked to any particular elected official or political party. There was no signaling, whether virtue or vice. There was only the woman who found the practice abhorrent, and the gentleman who does not personally consume dog meat, but expresses both a deference to individual preference and a respect for tradition. You will note that these opinions were presented directly to the viewer. There wasn’t an immediate voiceover with “context” or “fact-checking”. You didn’t see, say, a Chosun Daily poll pushing viewers towards one preference or another.

Finally, Nawaz closes the report by noting that the law enters into effect after a three-year grace period. There was no additional commentary about what people may choose to do with that time. There was no assessment of whether dog-eating (or abstention thereof) is a threat to democracy itself. 

We learned that PBS can, in fact, deliver an unbiased, tonally neutral news report with no commentary, “fact-checking” or “context” if it really wants to. 

So long as such a report is not on the war between Israel and Hamas, or the border crisis, or the weather, or any of the pet policy items on the left’s policy pu-pu platter and the politicos who push them.