PBS, which has often refused to broadcast films it deemed to be suffering from conflicts of interest, is now distributing a work that violates its own policies, according to the media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

PBS is running in three one-hour installments a documentary about George P. Shultz, who served as President Reagan’s Secretary of State. “The unusually lengthy, completely uncritical tribute is partially sponsored by corporations linked to Shultz’s corporate career,” FAIR said, citing a New York Times article.

Here are some examples of films PBS rejected for conflict of interest problems, according to FAIR.

  1. The 1997 film Out at Work, because it received funding from labor unions and a lesbian group.
  2. The 1993 documentary Defending Our Lives, which addressed domestic violence, because one of the producers was affiliated with a support group for battered women
  3. Lost Eden, a historical drama about a 19th century textile strike, was turned away 20 years ago because of labor funding.

The Shultz documentary’s is obsequiously called, Turmoil and Triumph: The George Shultz Years. “Even the title sounds like a ‘Colbert Report’ punch line,” Alessandra Stanley wrote in her New York Times review, in which she indicated that the film was unwatchably teious. She also noted that it was funded by Stephen Bechtel Fund and Charles Schwab. “Shultz was a board member at both companies, and was president of the Bechtel Corporation from 1975 to 1982,” said FAIR, an OtherWords partner. Does this rub you the wrong way? Let PBS ombudsman Michael Getler know. ombudsman@pbs.org (703) 739-5290.

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