Oregon Public Broadcasting has agreed to distribute controversial documentary Islam vs. Islamists: Voices From the Muslim Center after PBS said the show was incomplete and would not distribute it as delivered.
“As it stood, it did not meet our editorial standards,” said a PBS spokeswoman. “We felt that it was missing some context.” PBS asked the producers to add that context but, “they believe the film is done,” she said.
Apparently so did CPB. Steve Bass, President and CEO or Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), says that CPB reached out and he concluded stations should have the opportunity to make their own decision about airing the show. He plans to give them that opportunity in the next 2-3 months….
Bass has seen the show and says it does lack context, but that OPB will produce follow-on discussion program help put it in perspective. So–why air it? “When something like this becomes an object of controversy, and is a program that people haven’t seen, you are generally better off putting it out there,” says Bass. “And I think it plays to public broadcasting’s strength, which is that we are a collection of local institutions that make our own independent editorial decisions.”
The documentary is part of the CPB-funded America at the Crossroads series primarily looking at issues surrounding terrorism and the Middle East. PBS scheduled 11 Crossroads films in April, but not Islam vs. Islamists, which PBS says was never slated for April.
Islam vs. Islamists, says Bass, deals with “five or six specific incidents in various countries of radicals putting pressure on centrists, but what you don’t get is the broader context of how prevalent this is,” he says. “Are these isolated incidents or is this part of a pattern.”
Some conservatives have suggested that liberals don’t like that the show is critical of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and that it questions whether it is really the “moderate” voice of Arab-Americans.