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News ::
Nader Shut Out from Public Television (article, link to petition)
30 Oct 2000
Once again, Ralph Nader has been denied the right to speak. This time on the public airwaves. Sign petition at attached web address.
According to a release from the Western Mass Greens Nader/LaDuke campaign office Nader has been shut out of the political process once again. After seeing Green Party Presidential Candidate denied access to the presidential debates, barred from even entering to view the debates, and then prevented by police from going to scheduled interviews with the media, news of Nader being denied the right to speak will come as no surprise to those who follow the independent media. The surprise to this time might be that it is not the overtly funded corporate interests keeping Nader at bay. It is our public airwaves: PBS television.

According to the Western Mass Greens statement, PBS television is giving two and half minutes at the end of the News Hour with Jim Lehrer for four nights each to Al Gore and George Bush Jr. “But,” say the Greens, “this offer was not extended to all the candidates — Ralph Nader has once again been silenced and the American people have been denied the opportunity to hear a candidate address issues like universal health care, the dysfunctional death penalty, trade agreements that harm labor unions, and meaningful environmental protection.”

A petition has been

Readers wishing to contact PBS may so through their local PBS affiliate and directly at:

News Hour with Jim Lehrer
phone: (703) 998-2150
fax: (703) 998-4154
email: newshour (at)
or jlehrer (at)

Sandra Hebert, Director of News and Information Programming at PBS
fax: (703) 739-5295
email: sheberer (at)
See also:
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01 Nov 2000


October 31, 2000

Winner of Corporation for Public Broadcasting Award Speaks out Against PBS

DENNISPORT, MA—New England filmmaker Eileen McDonough Foster is speaking out against the PBS decision to allow presidential candidates Al Gore and George Bush two and a half minutes of airtime at the end of the nightly news program “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” to address viewers directly. Dismayed by PBS’ refusal to extend equal airtime to all the presidential candidates, McDonough Foster is publicly voicing her disapproval.
McDonough Foster is a recipient of the Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting Channel’s 1999 Eastern Educational Network Program Award for Best Documentary.
“As a former PBS producer, I am disturbed by the PBS decision not to extend this offer to all the candidates,” McDonough Foster said. “This decision violates PBS’ contract with the American public to be a non-partisian media organization. As the only network that is funded by federal and state funds, the Public Broadcasting Service has an moral and legal obligation to extend equal access of its offer of free airtime to all the presidential candidates.”
PBS is currently giving free airtime to presidential candidates from October 25 through Friday, November 3. PBS is providing four nights for Al Gore and four nights for George W. Bush. But, this offer was not extended to all the presidential candidates.
According to PBS Viewer Services, presidential candidates Harry Browne, Pat Buchanan, George W. Bush, Albert Gore, John Hagelin, and Ralph Nader, were contacted in September 2000 and informed that they would be offered air time under two conditions: (1) that on October 10, 2000, they be on the ballot in states with enough electoral votes to have a mathematical chance of winning, and (2) that on that date they reach an average of at least five percent public support in five different nationally recognized polls. PBS reports that only Vice President Gore and Governor Bush met both of these criteria, thus the offer was not extended to all the presidential candidates.
McDonough-Foster emphatically stated that media polls should have no place in determining who has access to airtime on PBS. “When media polls are used to determine who will have a voice in an election year then what we have is a situation where the democratic process is being compromised,” she said. “There is no mention of media polls in our constitution or any of the amendments, they are not part of the democratic process. PBS needs to question the criteria they have set for themselves.”
McDonough-Foster said the proper method of selection would be to include all the candidates that are on the ballot in states with enough electoral votes to have a mathematical chance of winning. “As of October 10th, Ralph Nader’s was on the ballot in 42 states—he is a good example of a candidate who has been blocked out due to media polls.”
“I am not normally one to speak out, but in this case, I feel I must,” said McDonough Foster, explaining her position. “That PBS would deny equal access to airtime based on media polls is irresponsible and sets a dangerous precedent.”
McDonough Foster stated that she has forwarded an e-mail stating her concerns to Jim Lehrer, host of “News Hour with Jim Lehrer,” and Sandra Hebert, Director of News and Information Programming at PBS and has urged her friends and colleagues to contact PBS with their concerns.
“Whether you plan to vote Republican or Democratic or Green or Independent,” McDonough Foster continued, “It is important that we note that PBS has overstepped its bounds by using media polls to determine which candidates will have access to our Public Broadcasting System.”
In 1999, McDonough Foster’s documentary, Our Stories: At the Center of Things, earned a New England/Boston Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Documentary and an Eastern Educational Network Program Award for Best Documentary from the Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting Channel.
Set against the beauty of Western Maine, the hour-long documentary is an arresting look into the lives of four individuals; Sonny, Betty Ann, Jay and Florence. These members of the proud and wonderful Hastings family—who can claim a 200-year heritage of family farming—grapple with the decline of farming in rural Maine and a family history of depression. McDonough Foster produced Our Stories: At the Center of Things with the Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation. The documentary has been distributed through American Public Television and has been aired in PBS markets across the United States. #30#