Zahn’s Racism Special Triggers Ton Of E-Mail, & Possible Censorship

By Brian 

Paula Zahn‘s Tuesday night special on racism delivered 818,000 total viewers and 351,000 in the 25-54 demo, up significantly from her November average of 685,000 viewers and 231,000 demo. “Looking at the ratings, rather than draw from the normal cable news viewer pool, it brought in new 25-54 year old viewers,” an e-mailer notes.

The show was “flooded with e-mail” after the hour-long report, titled “Skin-Deep: Racism in America,” aired. So on Wednesday, Zahn hosted part two, with a combination of new and previously aired reports.

The lead story was a follow-up to Tuesday’s package by Keith Oppenheim. His report about Vidor, Texas, and its history of racism was expected to be controversial — “in fact, there are regional newspapers and local television stations that were planning on getting reaction from Vidor residents once the story aired,” the correspondent said Wednesday. But it didn’t air in Vidor on Tuesday.

“Thirteen seconds after our story on Vidor began, the signal dropped, and local viewers saw only a blue screen for nearly six minutes,” Oppenheim said in a follow-up segment on Wednesday. (“It was a simple mistake. That’s all it was,” TWC spokesman George Perrett says.)

PZN then re-aired Oppenheim’s original report, and discussed it with the town’s mayor. Here’s the show transcript…