Email and Voicemail Boxes

Jan 26, 2015

Emails, letters, phone calls and great thoughts from viewers and listeners over the past few weeks:

From Dr. Michael Murray:

I would like to protest Gwen Ifill's repeated slander of President Lyndon B Johnson. She first did it on the CBS Sunday Face The Nation. Then on her own show during an interview with the maker of "Selma" she repeated it in a phony attempt to discuss the issue. Lyndon Johnson did everything that he could to promote civil rights and Ms. Infill's slander is outrageous. I am a retired Internist and I have plenty of time. I am going to spend most of it in trying to get my friends to stop contributing to CPB and lobby the Congress to defund you unless Ms. Ifill makes a public apology.

From Jennifer Gattis:

I really love Ruff Ruffman. Is there anything you can do? If you save Fetch! report it to me immediately.

From Ronald B. Cohen and Claudia Eskenazi:

First, my wife and I were moved by the Klansville report, a small step toward undoing the harm to the American Experience itself wrought by allowing the Klan to haunt our nation so painfully and so long. Thank you for that.

We are outraged by the "Singing Commercials" of Liberty Insurance that bracketed this program. It is bad enough to accept a silent posting of this notorious insurance company but to stoop to having them provide a spoken narrative is beyond acceptance. We abandoned the commercial networks rather than be exposed to such garbage, I can only hope to see it end immediately.

From another email:

My name is Serge. I'm a father of two children age 4 and 8. They like to watch Peg + Cat, BUT I will not allow them to watch it anymore, because of the needless use and overuse of the phrase "I'm totally freaking out."

I believe that somebody in PEG's institution is probably very proud that s/he came up with this seemingly 'clever' and catchy phrase. BUT it might have very severe consequences for children, because it sets an embedded pattern of being 'normal' and 'ordinary' and 'usual' to Freak Out, when it is NOT.

"Freaking out" means a manic crazed feeling or behavior, it means to lose your normal self and go crazy, it means strange deviation from natural course of events, it means unusual behavior, anomaly, aberration. One needs to spend only 30 seconds online to order to research and see the potential consequences of "freaking out."

In my opinion, --and I spoke with quite a few parents, who share my view--it is Extremely Dangerous for young children and their developing imagination to be exposed to the repetitive notion and visualization that it is absolutely normal and quite natural to be abnormal, crazy and to "freak out." The 'embedded' notion that it's OK to Freak Out might have quite unpredictable consequences in the future lives of the young minds exposed to this notion/pattern today.

There is absolutely NO artistic reason why Peg should use this phrase to begin with, other than to satisfy its creator's rather shallow 'originality.'

I would like to bring this issue to your attention, because I truly believe that it is not a trivial issue at all, and I would like to ask you to review the linguistic options with the production team of Peg + Cat.

I understand that the contents of this program were developed under the cooperative agreement with the US Board of Education. In all honesty I have no idea how any Department of Education --and CPB as well-- can agree on or endorse a repetitive notion that it's quite OK to "totally freak out."

I did send a message to PEG + CAT creators a week ago and I did receive a rather general reply down the lines that "we strive to deliver the best content," but that is not good enough for me, because every day that "totally freaking out" is on the air it brings more and more chances that one of today's children will decide to play out the "freaking out" in real life with quite unpredictable consequences. Please address this issue !

From Carol Kuschke:

I am concerned about the removal of Bill Moyers on public television. He has the most thoughtful guests who speak about topics that we get little chance to hear about, for instance this last Friday. He had a guest discussing Native American Treaties and what is happening to some of their land. I have been a sustaining member for years, but am considering withdrawing my support. Also, I could hardly believe the little coverage about the Climate March in New York City. Is this because of the influence of board members like the Koch brothers?

Here are a couple of voicemail messages received by CPB:

Hi this is Lori from Austin, Texas. I think NPR needs to hire a linguist. Many times, many many times, when reporters or correspondents are interviewing Hispanic people, they get the names so terribly wrong and with the growing number of Hispanics here in this country I would expect that NPR would make some effort to get those names correct. Thank you.

Oh hi I want to make a comment about the PBS NewsHour which ordinarily I think is excellent. I praise it because normally it seems to be fair and balanced but now with regard to this whole Ferguson thing I think it's gone a little off the track. I was watching Gwen Ifill yesterday, Tuesday and it was a one sided presentation about it and there was no comment that any effort was made to get a police point of view.

Now Rodney King was one thing where we saw what seemed to certainly be excessive brutality. We had a video of that, we did not have a video of this and yet Gwen Ifill seemed to be convicting this cop already and equating it to Rodney King and we don't know what happened but the only video we did have was of Michael Brown participating in a robbery a short time before and yet that's considered inflammatory? You know the video of Rodney King was considered the truth, was considered evidence but Michael Brown participating in a violent robbery is considered inflammatory?

May I say and I certainly hope and pray for progress and that someday as Martin Luther king said a man will not be judged by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. I hope and pray that that day will come. My point is that there has to be a little more balance with regards to this Ferguson situation and don't be just reflexively bashing the police but yes try to come up with constructive solutions so that there won't be such a high incidence of black crime and that young black males will have hope for the future so that they'll feel that they gave viable alternatives to crime. But you don't get there by shutting your eyes to the crime, you have to confront it and say how do we stop it.