PBS documents history

A recent article by The New York Times asked its audience: is PBS still necessary?

A New York Times’ article asserts that perhaps people are not interested in what PBS has to offer, and that the thousands of available cable channels owned by a few huge media powerhouses may offer more than enough critical and balanced journalistic viewpoints. So why continue a cumbersome and costly public broadcasting network?

How enthralling to see, then, this week’s four-and-a-half hour “Frontline” documentary film on PBS titled “Bush’s War,” produced by Michael Kirk. If there were any doubt about the importance and validity of PBS, this comprehensive encyclopedia of our generation’s war does more than stand up to PBS’ bullies.

“Bush’s War” is a compilation of the 40 in-depth journalistic pieces that “Frontline” has produced about the war throughout the past five years. Splicing together hundreds of hours of interviews with journalists, Whitehouse lawyers, and CIA and Whitehouse insiders, the film deftly outlines how the political infighting after Sept. 11 between the CIA and newly minted Bush administration thrust our nation into war, based on flimsy and eventually unfounded evidence.

Since the mainstream media acted as the megaphone for President George W. Bush’s trumpet to war, we need PBS and shows like “Frontline” to continue to maintain an even journalistic keel. And because of PBS’s five years of journalistic work, the public has the most engaging and encompassing historical document of a war that has defined a presidency and redefined a nation.

In a time when trust was essential and the American people were willing to give it, as indicated by Bush’s record 90 percent approval rating after Sept. 11, mainstream media failed to give the public a complete picture. Maybe the public didn’t want the truth at the time, or maybe the media felt it important to stand behind our leader, but hindsight is always 20/20; “Bush’s War” shows us that PBS has a pretty good pair of eyes.

Watch “Bush’s War” online at www.pbs.org/frontline.