PBS Corrects Blatant Bias After Letter Writer Complains

Over at the Intellectual Conservative, writer Gary Larson discusses what he discovered when viewing an episode of PBS's "History Detectives":

Entertaining, a smidgen on the shaggy-dog side, the PBS program showcases four academic “detectives” traipsing around the country tracking down arcane histories of assorted relics. It’s a fun program, a fast hour of delicious cotton candy for us history buffs.

It leads us down paths of little discoveries — a shard of bone, a piece of flag, some old cannon ball. Then a “detective” tells us what parts they played in history, if at all. The joy of watching is in the journey.

At the end of each segment, for no discernable reason, a “detective” offers his or her brief uptake, presumably on the subject at hand. Beware. Sometimes it swerves hard left, straight into latte liberal la la land. Revisionism never had it so good.

“Detective” C. Wesley (Wes) Cowan used his brief commentary in a July episode to rip the war. Spewing the usual defeatist jeers (“a mistake,” etc.), Cowan delivers lines in the style of CBS-TV’s Andy Rooney: Cheap shots, drive-by editorializing, strictly partisan; no mature analysis. Hubris reigns; anyone who disagrees can go jump in the lake.

Cowan offers that if only his hero, Sen. John F. Kerry, had won the election, oh, what a wonderful world it would be. Fair enough. Give him that. But what stopped us was his smug, fallacious take-down of the Swift Boat Vets and POWS for Truth — except Cowan did not mention the POWs.

If you did not catch Cowan’s sour-faced invective in Episode #503, you never will. His commentary has been snuffed out by his producers, something of a reverse Orwellian memory hole.

In the original, Cowan said the Swift Boats Vets “smeared Sen. Kerry‘s military record.” In this he emulates leftist ideologues, such as Moyers and other livid anti-war freaks of our times, invoking falsehoods to underscore their arguments.

The full original line, which PBS admits -- even though they've since changed it in the episode -- was "Funded by a wealthy Republican campaign donor, the group smeared Kerry's military record, and possibly cost him the election." Why was the line edited? Because Larson wrote to PBS voicing his complaints as to the characterization of the Swift Boat Vets/POWs. Larson didn't think he would get much satisfaction when he wrote the letter, but, lo and behold, PBS replied and informed him as to the change they made:


Bravo to Larson for calling PBS out. As a taxpayer-supported endeavor, it is quite reasonable for viewers to expect Public Broadcasting to be as free of bias as possible.

(Thanks to Newsbusters reader Joe Easley for the story tip!)

PBS Journalistic Issues Wes Cowan