May
12
2009

PBS's 'Washington Bubble' Invisible to Inhabitants

Noticing how PBS's Gwen Ifill has a penchant for "filling her Washington Week program with journalists who almost invariably agree with each other instead of actually debating the issues of the week," critic Charles Kaiser decided to contact her (CJR.org, 5/8/09) about a recent "discussion of torture in which the only issue the panelists identified was how the Obama administration should deal with the political fallout from the demands for a full-scale investigation and/or prosecution of the officials responsible for American torture."

Kaiser's question of whether it would "ruin the discussion to have one person who believes that a full investigation of American torture and prosecutions of those responsible for it are the only way to rescue the honor of America" received a curt reply from Ifill: "Opinion? You were watching the wrong program if that's what you were looking for."

Aside from its snide tone, Kaiser spells out for Ifill exactly what's wrong with this view:

Gwen,

Everyone at that table obviously believed that investigating and/or prosecuting torture was a political problem for the Obama administration, and nothing more.

That is an opinion, Gwen. The fact that all of you shared it doesn't make it anything else. It does mean you were incapable of acknowledging any other point of view.

This is why we call it "the Washington bubble."

To top it off, after Ifill's subsequent offer to "feel free to call me during working hours. You know how," Kaiser reports that "after three more e-mail requests for an interview, and four voicemails left for Ifill and her two producers over two weeks, the anchorwoman never managed to return any of our phone calls."