In June 1990, the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [F.A.I.R.] liberal media watchdog group, which then had an office at 130 W. 25th St. in Manhattan, released the results of its study of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. In the spring of 1991, Downtown spoke with F.A.I.R.’s then-Executive Director Jeff Cohen to learn what were the major conclusions of F.A.I.R.’s 1990 study.
“We had already done a study of [ABC News’] Nightline. We decided to study the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour to see if public broadcasting was giving `a voice for the voiceless’ and `reflecting an America on the air in all of its diversity,’ in the words of the Carnegie Commission on Public Broadcasting.
“We found that the guest-list on PBS’s MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour was more narrow than it was on Nightline. There were more government officials and less critics than on Nightline. And a greater percentage of the MacNeil/Lehrer guests were men and white.
“We did a case study of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour’s coverage of environmental issues for six months, during the period of the Valdez oil spill. And we found that not one environmental activist had been invited to appear on the show. The show’s guest-list had pro-corporation people, but no representatives from public-interest groups,” Cohen recalled in 1991.
Next: F.A.I.R.’s 1990 Study Of The NewsHour—Part 2