‘Hand of God’ again.
Lots more happening in the dustup over the decision of a Catholic-diocese-owned PBS affiliate not to air the clergy abuse documentary Hand of God on January 16 at its scheduled time, as did most other PBS stations.* Published TV listings and the station’s own Web site listed the program as scheduled for January 16.
First came Bruce Lee Smith’s story, detailing conflicting reports about why KMBH didn’t run the documentary. Viewers who called the station asking about it were told that the station manager, Msgr. Pedro Briseno, was holding the program to review it for content. When the press started asking questions, they were told the station never received the program from PBS. Then came a response from the Msgr. Briseno, explaining that he would answer reporters’ written questions on Friday. Here’s how that went down.
Response from KMBH
This is a statement from KMBH’s General Manager on a story published today by local newspapers on Frontline of last Tuesday.
Bruce Smith of the Valley Morning Star sent me a questionnaire on
Thursday, January 18 at 4:57 PM, three minutes before closing of
business day. I still responded as soon as I could the same day…I
realize now that Bruce must have had his article ready when he sent me
the questionnaire late yesterday!!!
could be considered very bad journalism practice! Unethical! I leave
the editors and readers the option to discern. Bruce had been told
since Wednesday by my staff at KMBH Studio that I was available to
respond to his questions as long as they were in writing, because I was
out of my office and because it is more appropriate for the records. My
staff reported a sarcastic reaction from Bruce, who evidently took his
time in sending me his questionnaire… only after his article had been
written. But now he should feel happy with a moment to enjoy scandal
and controversy through an article full of prejudice and inaccuracy.
to Bruce Smith can be seen in its entirety on our web page. I responded
to Bruce’s questions because I believe in journalism, having been
myself in the noble profession over twenty five years. I am sure our
viewers recognize the right of KMBH to denounce this practice of
unethical journalism that got its latest target on a station dedicated
to service and education.
business is not to create scandal and confrontation, but TO CONTRIBUTE
TO EDUCATION. Nevertheless we know very well our rights and we are
ready to exercise them.
Msgr. Pedro Briseño
RGV Educational Broadcasting
Be sure to take the monsignor’s advice and read his response in its entirety.
Now the AP has picked up the story. Note this nugget: “A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Brownsville said the Catholic church
owns the station but does not influence programming decisions.” Given the monsignor’s statement that “our business is not to create scandal,” does the spokeswoman’s explanation hold water?
* I corrected this sentence to reflect the findings of the PBS ombudsman’s investigation.