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Support for 'Africa Now'

November 26, 1990

David Horowitz's Counterpunch article "The Left Is Crying Wolf Over 'South Africa Now' (Nov. 19) was a tiresome string of '50s McCarthyite and '80s right-wing think-tank cliches directed against the PBS series, its producers and those who urge KCET to continue broadcasting it.

There are two major works that have put the myth of liberal domination in U.S. media to rest: Mark Haagstad's highly acclaimed book "On Bended Knee: The Media During the Reagan Years" and the in-depth study "Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting on 'MacNeil/Lehrer' and 'Nightline.' "

Horowitz's Committee on Media Integrity accuses PBS of creeping leftist domination, but it is soundly contradicted by facts: The "alternative" U.S. guests on "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" were more than 90% white males and most of them were right-wing or conservative.

The great majority of talk shows such as "Firing Line," "The Capitol Gang" and "The McLaughlin Group" have made a practice of having center liberals exclusively representing the left, usually in a setting controlled by right-wing spokesmen.

Significantly, corporate sponsorship has been the cornerstone of these shows and of the proliferation on PBS of business news programs (not of a leftist perspective).

By comparison, television's "The Kwinty Report," hosted by Jonathan Kwinty, author and former Wall Street Journal reporter--which provided a more diverse list of guests and more substantive and wide-ranging discussion--was taken off the air due to lack of renewed corporate and foundation support.

I'm still trying to figure out Horowitz's warped logic of calling those that support the airing of "South Africa Now" "vigilantes" and those (such as the Horowitz group) who ask for its cancellation proponents of "balance in public television."

Horowitz tells us that the opponents of the series were "civilized" in making their cancellation request and didn't even use a letter-writing campaign to achieve their end. That's very kind of his organization--in that the '80s, like the McCarthyite '50s, was a period of well-financed right-wing organizations that worked as media hit squads, with chilling effects on freedom of speech.

Horowitz tries to accuse the left of the practices that the right wing has perfected in its attacks against media. It's like accusing the victim of the crime--or Hitler burning the Reichstag to blame it on the communists.

ISAAC ARTENSTEIN

San Diego

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