On the May 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, conservative radio host and Move America Forward chairman Melanie Morgan addressed a May 17 statement by Linda Winslow, executive producer of Public Broadcasting Service's The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, in response to viewer complaints regarding the discussion between Morgan and VoteVets.org chairman Jon Soltz on the May 8 edition of the NewsHour. Winslow wrote: "Since the program is produced live, we can't do much to eliminate rude guests from your television screen once the segment has begun; what we can do is guarantee you will never see that person on our program again." On Hannity, Morgan accused Media Matters for America -- which published a May 9 item on Morgan's NewsHour appearance -- of encouraging "their people" to call PBS and get her banned from the network. Morgan further stated: "I am demanding an apology from Linda Winslow, because this is a woman who clearly is lying about the situation." Morgan also asserted: "PBS has a blatant anti-conservative bias. They don't want to hear a proud pro-American, pro-troop point of view," adding, "I think that ... PBS should be ashamed of itself."
In introducing the segment, co-host Sean Hannity stated: "In an action that reeks of censorship, PBS' signature broadcast, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, effectively banned conservative radio host Melanie Morgan from any future appearances." Hannity was referring to Winslow's statement, which appeared in PBS ombudsman Michael Getler's column on May 17. In that column, Getler included numerous viewer letters regarding the May 8 NewsHour segment. Following is the full text of Winslow's statement:
Last night the NewsHour attempted to help our viewers understand why the members of Congress are having so much difficulty arriving at a decision regarding the way forward in Iraq. We believe the intensity of the pressure being exerted on Democrats and Republicans by the "wings" of their respective parties is having an impact on those who are looking for some sort of compromise position. We decided to let representatives of those wings explain their positions, hoping they would participate in a dialogue with us and each other. As our guests demonstrated, however, that was a forlorn hope and the result was a lot of heat, but very little light.
Since neither guest was in the studio with Judy Woodruff, there wasn't much she could do to prevent them from interrupting one another, short of saying -- as she did at least three times -- "please let him/her finish his/her point." The NewsHour style is to ask pointed questions politely; we expect our guests to subscribe to the same rules. Since the program is produced live, we can't do much to eliminate rude guests from your television screen once the segment has begun; what we can do is guarantee you will never see that person on our program again.
On Hannity, Morgan demanded an apology from Winslow, and said: "This is censorship, because PBS has a blatant anti-conservative bias. They don't want to hear a proud pro-American, pro-troop point of view. They've clearly demonstrated that in the past. And I think that ... PBS should be ashamed of itself." Hannity also referred to PBS as "left-leaning."
Morgan went on to say: "What this whole thing is, basically, is a bottom-line effort by Media Matters. ... [I]t's an effort [in which] they call their people and ask them to call PBS." In a May 9 item -- headlined "NewsHour hosted Melanie Morgan on Iraq war despite her history of misinformation and smears" -- Media Matters noted that PBS correspondent Judy Woodruff, who hosted the May 8 NewsHour segment featuring Morgan and Soltz, made no mention of Morgan's history of spreading false, misleading, and unsubstantiated claims regarding the Iraq war.
From the May 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: And welcome back to Hannity & Colmes. I'm Sean Hannity.
In an action that reeks of censorship, PBS' signature broadcast, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, has effectively banned conservative radio host Melanie Morgan from any future appearances.
Now, citing Morgan's on-screen demeanor, the executive producer of the left-leaning news forum released the following statement. It said: "The NewsHour style is to ask pointed questions politely; we expect our guests to subscribe to the same rules. Since the program is produced live, we can't do much to eliminate rude guests from your television screen once the segment has begun. What we can do is guarantee [that] you will never see that person on our program again."
Joining us now -- radio talk show host, KSFO, San Francisco, Melanie Morgan.
First of all, Melanie, I would say this is a badge of honor for you on the one hand, but on the other hand, they're only silencing you -- and there was an interruptive liberal guest on the program. Why were you separated in that way?
MORGAN: Well, first of all let me just say that I thought it was a joke when I heard about this -- I had been out of town visiting relatives in Kansas City, Missouri, which is my hometown -- and when I heard about it from my relatives, I said, "Oh, that can't be true." And then I went to the blogosphere, and, oh my goodness, there was such a riot over -- and some of the filthiest language I've ever seen in delight.
Let me tell you this: Linda Winslow, who's the executive producer of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, is either badly misinformed or outright lying -- because these are the facts: I was accused of being rude and interruptive. The guest who was on opposite me, who was with VoteVets.org, one of the far-left, funded organizations by George Soros, actually interrupted me for the very first time.
I did a word count on this.
MORGAN: We were interrupting four times -- we were interrupted four times equal on each side, and he was given 55 percent of the air time or 56 percent of the air time to my 44 percent.
HANNITY: Melanie, listen, you have been a guest on this program frequently. You are passionate in your views. You are always polite. You always allow other people to get their point of view across. I have never known you to say anything outrageous. I read the transcript. There's nothing outrageous here. I guess the question I have is: When we're talking about PBS, we're also talking about tax dollars. That's --
HANNITY: -- we are funding PBS. So, it seems to me that --
MORGAN: But that's the thing that is the most outrageous.
HANNITY: -- if they're -- if they didn't like the segment -- if they didn't like the segment, it should apply to both guests here, but it's only applying to you. What do you plan to do about it?
MORGAN: That's absolutely -- well, I plan, and right now on your airways, I am demanding an apology from Linda Winslow, because this is a woman who clearly is lying about the situation. The producer contacted me six times before my appearance, and we discussed the fact that there might be interruptions. They asked me to put my boxing gloves on. They said they have no problem with a free-for-all discussion, because both activists are very passionate about my views.
COLMES: Hey, Melanie, this is going to shock you. This is Alan. I'm going to side with you. I really think they should allow rude, interruptive guests like yourself on PBS.
MORGAN: Well, you've never -- I agree, you know, because after all, Alan, there are a lot of people who don't like you for your rude, interruptive style, but --
COLMES: I know that to be true.
MORGAN: -- nobody on our side --
COLMES: I know that to be true.
MORGAN: -- has tried to silence you.
COLMES: Right. No, I agree.
MORGAN: And this is the thing that -- it's my taxpayer dollars that are being used to silence me, and this is what is happening: What this whole thing is, basically, is a bottom-line effort by Media Matters of America -- for America, pardon me -- it's an effort [in which] they call their people and ask them to call PBS. They received an onslaught of -
COLMES: Now, you're blaming Media Matters. PBS got a lot of negative reaction to your appearance. They have a right as an organization to say, "Look, this is a guest that doesn't work for our audience. We're not going to put the guest on again." They have a right to say that. I think you have a right to get on --
MORGAN: This is censorship.
COLMES: -- and be combative, and by the same token, once they invited you on.
MORGAN: This is censorship, because PBS has a blatant anti-conservative bias. They don't want to hear a proud pro-American, pro-troop point of view. They've clearly demonstrated that in the past. And I think that --
COLMES: Well, the other side is pro-troop, too. Your co-guest --
MORGAN: -- PBS should be ashamed of itself.
COLMES: You know, you keep -- by the way, you kept saying like you're the pro-troop, you're the pro-American. You actually said we'll be engaged as those on the left -- the anti-American, anti-war side -- as if those on my side are somehow anti-American or anti-war.
Your co-guest, Jon Soltz, was a troop -- was the troops. He's just as American, just as patriotic, and just as loving of his country and the troops as you are, and you should not suggest otherwise. You're entitled to, but you shouldn't.
MORGAN: This is a young man who served his country, and we're grateful for his service. But let me tell you, he is working for a partisan organization that clearly has a political agenda --
COLMES: As are you. As are you.
MORGAN: -- in the gotcha game for 2008.
COLMES: As are you.
MORGAN: Yeah, but he's doing it under the color of the troops.
HANNITY: All right. Melanie, it's always good to see you. That's a badge of honor. We're going to continue to follow the story, considering it's our tax money, and we appreciate you being on.