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10.16.08

The Expose on PBS' Torture Expose

PBS finally answers my query, explains why Torturing Democracy won't air until January.

UPDATE: In the wake of my post Tuesday on The Daily Beast, management of WETA, the PBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., has reversed its course concerning the documentary Torturing Democracy. Following a series of meetings that occurred yesterday, WETA has decided to show the documentary tonight at 10 p.m. We expect this announcement to be made publicly later this morning.

Thursday's New York Times got PBS' senior vice president for programming, John Wilson, to respond to the query I posed yesterday on The Daily Beast into why the first date he could offer a broadcast slot for Torturing Democracy was January 21, 2009.

"That the first date offered happened to be the day after the Bush administration is to leave power 'absolutely is coincidental,' he said. 'It was the date that offered itself up.'" And Lea Sloan, another PBS representative, described just what stiff competition the cutting-edge documentary was up against: "Several factors prevented a summer airdate, including scheduling of the animated sitcom 'Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns' and the political conventions, and a desire not to compete against the Olympics, Lea Sloan, a PBS spokeswoman, said."

So there you have it. A headline-grabbing documentary exposing the Bush administration's descent into torture was driven off the PBS program by a cartoon. I'd say Wilson's initial response—silence—was much smarter. New York viewers can catch the show tonight at 9 p.m. on WNET.

Related: Did PBS Bury an Exposé on Torture?