`The Greenhouse Conspiracy:' Why PBS Declined to Televise It
Contrary to the opinion-page article ``Too Hot for PBS?,'' Feb. 8, PBS's coverage of the issue of global warming has been both wide-ranging and responsible. Care has been taken in our news and science programs, such as ``The Infinite Voyage'' and ``Race to Save the Planet,'' to note that scientific debate exists about the issue. Representatives from both sides of the issue have aired their opinions on ``The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour,'' including Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT, one of the scientists featured in ``The Greenhouse Conspiracy,'' the film whose rejection by PBS provided the grist for the author's mill.
PBS had no discussions with the producer of ``The Greenhouse Conspiracy,'' which was submitted to PBS by a program distributor. On the basis of a number of factors, including the film's production values and the amount of work, time, and money involved in packaging the program for air, we chose not to purchase it. We owe it to our viewers to submit each and every program to this type of scrutiny, and judgments are made in accordance with our professional assessments of a program's quality.
PBS does not allow political pressure, private interests, or public controversy to dictate decisions about what we broadcast. Viewers agree. According to a nationwide survey by Statistical Research Inc., some 79 percent believe that PBS programming has neither a conservative nor liberal slant.
We will continue to examine global warming, as well as other important issues of our time, with thoughtful and responsible reporting - which is what people have come to expect from PBS.
Bruce L. Christensen, Alexandria, Va., President, Public Broadcasting Service
The article shows that the infected ethics of the Green agenda have not yet throttled the Monitor's willingness to publish the ``wrong'' side of the issue. By their presentation of controversial theory as ``fact,'' theorists of global warming capture a wide-eyed, gullible audience. Ironically, the purported skepticism of our sound-bite media has not been demonstrated; thus PBS's suppression of documentaries such as ``The Greenhouse Conspiracy,'' and its continuing penchant to broadcast the sensationa l as the ``right'' and only story. Media manipulation of public perception by deliberate and selective omission will only serve to weaken pop-theories such as global warming and discredit their advocates. Theoretical catastrophes may play well to the Green naive, but hardly serve to inspire thinking men and women.
David L. Tilton, Leucadia, Calif.
I am not surprised that PBS decided not to broadcast ``The Greenhouse Conspiracy,'' a documentary which highlights the uncertainties in global warming. Tony Slingo of the National Center for Atmospheric Research is quoted in the article as saying: ``We're not dealing with an exact science here.'' This is precisely the point! Uncertainty is inherent in climate research and research generally in the environmental sciences. This very uncertainty is the cause of the concern. We may not know for sure the extent of global warming until it is upon us. Therefore we must act in the face of uncertainty.
To use uncertainty to encourage inaction would indeed be irresponsible and reason enough for PBS to decline from airing the documentary.
Juli A. Abouchar, Montreal