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The Battle of The War

PBS defers to identity politics.

12:00 AM, Jun 29, 2007 • By LOUIS WITTIG
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PBS may have been the channel that least deserved to be accosted by identity activists. Ironically, it was also the one least able to fend them off. Activists regularly bang their pots at the Big Four networks too. But commercial television can take the risk of ignoring the hackles, hoping that sensible viewers will shrug them off and big ratings will calm advertisers. Last fall, CBS gambled that viewers wanted interesting TV more than they cared about racial orthodoxies and thus blew off activists who objected to the latest season of Survivor's race-segregated format. The show stunk, but at least CBS stuck to its guns.

Indifferent to profit and its attendant risk imperative, PBS was doomed from the start. Forcefully arguing its valid points would only have bought down more bad press on its sponsors and further alienated the liberal, culturally sensitive politicians on whose goodwill it depends.

Louis Wittig is a media writer in New York.