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HOWARD ROSENBERG

Viewers Take Aim at Talk Shows and 'War and Remembrance'

December 06, 1988|HOWARD ROSENBERG

We get letters. . . .

Today's batch concerns the ongoing controversy over tabloid talk shows and ABC's recently concluded "War and Remembrance . " The two subjects are not unrelated given the constant warring among talk shows themselves and their zest for topics that produce combat and conflict.

There is nothing wrong with free speech. We have that right from our Constitution. But what is happening is that free speech has fallen by the wayside and is being replaced by bigotry, racism and hate. Free speech is leading this country into another Hitler uprising.

So Geraldo Rivera got a broken nose. Do you think he will learn anything from it? And Phil Donahue deserves the same. They allow sickies free air time to expound their hate, and what is just as bad to me are the people who can sit back and listen to this garbage and not turn it off or protest.

I fear for the "new generation" if this is the end product. Who are these Donahues, Geraldos and even Oprahs who must resort to this sick sensationalism to draw an audience? I congratulate the man who started the riot on the Geraldo show. He deserves a medal. Too many turn a deaf ear to what is happening on TV. I personally find it revolting and find I watch less and less.

JANET GOODMAN

Sherman Oaks

The notorious Gang of Five--Oprah, Geraldo, Morton, Sally Jessy and Phil--rotate guests like addicts share tainted needles. Meanwhile, they disingenuously claim to perform a service by informing the public about pressing issues of the day.

So in the week that was, we had Geraldo's broken-nosed labored breathing . . . and Oprah's newly minted sylph-like silhouette. That walking chimney--chain-smoking Morton Downey Jr.--is still working his shtick of pugnacity cum profanity. Staid Phil Donahue is evincing greater discomfort as he is forced to referee matches between scantily clad GLOW wrestlers. And Sally Jessy Raphael peers snappishly through her outsize lenses like a prudish schoolmarm, still rankling over the deception perpetrated by a randy duo who passed themselves off as a middle-age male virgin and his compassionate female surrogate who introduced him to the joys of sex.

VICTOR STEELE

Los Angeles

I didn't like your view that Geraldo Rivera, Oprah Winfrey and Mr. Donahue shouldn't even be on TV with the topics they present. I feel very comfortable with the topics they present. I feel very comfortable with what they talk about, and many of their audience relate to them. It's much cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist.

The Holocaust is one topic we would not want forgotten, and we have topics we want confronted in a nonviolent manner. I credit Mr. Rivera with composure and compassion. Even in pain from a broken nose, he went on taping his program, forgetting about himself and going on with the job.

EVELYN B. SHARP

Buffalo, N.Y.

My father was a psychologist, and I guess growing up with him gave me his healthy cynicism for manipulation in all its forms. I find Oprah/Phil/Geraldo the pits of television and found the Broken Nose show a new low.

MARTY JOURARD

Sherman Oaks

The first thought that went through my mind as I watched the excerpts of the Geraldo Rivera melee on the news was that it was staged by Rivera and his staff in an unprecedented and nethermost attempt at building rating points. A moment later, I realized how ludicrous this thought was, but it reflects the level of respect and credibility that Rivera has achieved in the arena of serious journalism.

KENNETH BANK

Los Angeles

I agree that "War and Remembrance" is the best serialized drama in the history of American television. I am a veteran of World War II and the events of that conflict are still deeply etched in my mind. After having served in the South Pacific in a ball turret on a B-24 bomber, I came back to the states just before Christmas in 1944 to learn that I had lost my best friend, who happened to be of the Jewish faith. He was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. I still mourn him and the buddies from my squadron who didn't make it back. They died so young.

I also agree that Robert Mitchum was miscast in "War and Remembrance." Sometimes he looked like rigor mortis was setting in. As Fred Sanford would say, "He's not only over the hill, he's down in the valley."

FREDERICK D. MULLEN

Upland

I found the death scenes of "War and Remembrance" vividly well done and quite accurate. During the occupation of Austria following World War II, I was a staff officer in the military government. Among my duties, I researched the horrors of that infamous (but little known) Mauthausen located 12 miles from Linz. In many ways it was the cruelest of all the Nazi camps dedicated to the final solution.

JACK DEDERICK

Costa Mesa

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