Today's batch concerns columns about the R. Budd Dwyer suicide that network and local TV didn't show, the unaired ABC miniseries "Amerika," President Reagan's Fiesta Bowl interview on NBC, the NBC documentary "To Be a Teacher" and ABC's "Out on a Limb." Other topics are included too.
I would give TV journalism an A for not showing the R. Budd Dwyer suicide, but I would have to award an F for not making it the lead story anyway. That averages out to a C, and proves how average are the people presenting the news to us every day.
Re your article on television stations withholding film of R. Budd Dwyer shooting himself: Channel 2 showed no restraint, judgment or taste in showing a close-up of a black bag containing the body of little Phoebe Ho on its 4 p.m. newscast some weeks ago. What was the point of showing this? What was accomplished?
Channel 2 owes the public, beginning with Phoebe Ho's parents, an apology for this outrage. I ache to think how the little girl's relatives and friends felt on seeing this.
"Amerika" perpetuates the myth that the U.S. is in danger of being taken over by the Soviets. The myth has been the basis and excuse for attacks on civil liberties, aggression against Central American countries, support for ruffians and murderers who designate themselves as "freedom fighters," and insane expenditures for "defense" which are impoverishing us financially and intellectually.
The official figure for unemployment is about 7.5%. Careful studies show that the actual unemployment is double that. The number of people directly or closely affected--families--may number 30 million to 50 million. A recession may double or treble those numbers.
That is the threat to America!
As to your opposition to air time for opponents of "Amerika," ABC opened itself to that by granting rebuttal time to opponents of "The Day After." "Amerika" is the network's mea culpa to the anti-"Day After" crowd. So the U.N. and other opponents--who are as much the program's victims as critics, being depicted as communists and traitors--should, in fairness, be given the same chance to respond.
JOHN W. OSBORN JR., pres.
Southern Calif. Division
I just couldn't believe the Presidential appearance during the Fiesta Bowl. If this works, sometime in the future we could hear the latest of a nuclear holocaust live and direct from the Miss America contest or the MTV awards.
No one has ever said you don't have gall, but your exhibitions of it are becoming more frequent. Imagine you, who flagrantly engages in self-promotion daily by ripping apart 99% of the television you watch so you can maintain a hoped-for image of the enfant terrible of television criticism, closing your article on "Reagan at Half Time" with such meaningless prose as: "And self-promotion to beat the band."
Reagan, and I would guess every other "master communicator" on the tube, has forgotten more than you'll ever know about the subject, and it's sad that we must pay good money to read a critic who is reduced to railing at the skills of those who are pros at the game because he doesn't have the talent to be constructively critical.
I am a teacher and I was extremely disturbed by your commentary on the NBC special "To Be a Teacher." You seemed to want to destroy the credibility of the program without really knowing or caring yourself about teachers. Tears came to my eyes when I realized the truth was finally being presented to the public. It did describe reality for teachers.
I do not have any respect for a journalist who tries to degrade or destroy another's work. The damage your article caused will never be known.
As I type this letter to you on my computer, I'm laughing so hard . . . I can't see the keys. Shirley MacLaine should have left well enough alone, for the gullible who believed her "out of body" spiritualism on reading her book, "Out on a Limb," surely knew they had been taken after they saw the ABC movie.
Why should you disregard the possible or probable factuality of trance channeling, reincarnation, out-of-body travel or extraterrestrials simply because you haven't experienced them yourself?
As anyone who has ever delved into the metaphysical realm can tell you, the first step toward experiencing such "outrageous" phenomena as you mention is to have faith that such things could occur. That is all MacLaine is truly saying: Have faith and your own path will open to you, no matter what path that is. That doesn't strike me as bizarre, preposterous or unbelievable.
CLAUDIA A. DAVIDSON
In your column relative to the airing of the PBS program "The Conservatives," you denounced the program as a right-wing attack on liberals with no chance for them to respond.