Outrage in Alabama: PBS Employees Fired After Standing Against Bogus Religious Right History
Recently, a flap erupted in Alabama over demands that PBS stations there broadcast DVDs by David Barton, a Religious Right pseudo-historian in Texas.
Barton insists, against all evidence, that the United States was founded to be a “Christian nation” and that church-state separation is a “myth.” His work has been solidly debunked, most recently by two professors at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, but that hasn’t slowed him down. Barton distributes propaganda, not history, and the effort to more widely distribute his work is usually led by politicians or activists with an axe to grind.
In Alabama, Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland, two veteran employees of Alabama Public Television, were summarily fired by the Alabama Educational Television Commission. The two said they were given no reason for the dismissals, but Howland told the blog current.org that earlier this year, Commissioner Rodney Herring, an Opelika chiropractor, began pressuring Pizzato to air a 10-part series by Barton on America’s “Christian” roots.
Pizzato balked - and that may explain why he’s out of a job. Howland said that Pizzato and others on the staff had “grave concerns” about the content of the Barton DVDs. They felt the series was overtly religious and designed to advocate a certain political point of view.
PBS stations, of course, air political programming from all perspectives. It was PBS, for example, which aired William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line” for 33 years. Many PBS stations also carried “The McLaughlin Group” for many years. On the liberal side, Bill Moyers has been a PBS fixture for decades.
But PBS is not required to give “both sides” of an issue when there aren’t two equivalent sides. The program “Nova” can air shows about evolution without offering creationists equal time. PBS specials featuring astronomers don’t have to be balanced with astrologers.
Barton, who doesn’t have a history degree and whose work has been shown time and again to be error ridden, sloppy and propagandistic, has no place on public television. If Pizzato and Howland were fired for rejecting his DVDs, it’s an outrage. Alabama residents who care about the integrity of public television should speak out.