PBS’ The NewsHour tonight aired a follow-up report describing the intense reaction of its viewers to a February 17 New York Times story by Charles McGrath that asked Is PBS Still Necessary? and chided it for leaning toward “mustiness”.
NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer, who earlier this week invited viewers to comment on the article, introduced tonight’s coverage by correspondent Jeffrey Brown. Brown said over 800 responses were posted directly on the Times‘ website, with almost 90% defending the existence and relevance of PBS. He also reported that “close to 6,000” comments have come in to The NewsHour, of which “better than 97%” are supportive.
As for Lehrer, he told The New York Observer‘s Felix Gillette he was “stunned” by the story and pleased by the outpouring of loyalty. “I feel much better now,” he said. “It’s turned out to be a very positive development. It’s rallied people.”
The Los Angeles Times‘ Matea Gold spoke with McGrath. “I was trying to say, let’s look at PBS and see what it is. It’s not what it used to be, in part because the whole nature of television has changed,” said McGrath. “Had I had more room, there are a lot of things I could have talked about that are good.”