Moyers letter to Ombudsman

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Bill Moyers responded to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler’s July 20th column, which criticized Moyer’s program about impeachment for lacking balance, by writing “The journalist’s job is not to achieve some mythical state of equilibrium between two opposing opinions out of some misshapen respect — sometimes, alas, reverence — for the prevailing consensus among the powers-that-be. The journalist’s job is to seek out and offer the public the best thinking on an issue, event, or story. That’s what I did regarding the argument for impeachment.” The statement was part of a letter distributed to media who covered Getler’s critique, including Romenesko and the right-wing NewsBusters. Getler had written that “there was almost a complete absence of balance, as I watched it, in the way this program presented the case for impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney.” Moyers’ letter also notes that Getler, in a previous column (January 5) , called for more aggressive reporting on issues surrounding the Iraq war — including impeachment.

Getler has responded to Moyers’ letter in a new column entry. He writes: “while conventional, equal-time balance is frequently a false measure, the absence of any balance can undermine any program.”