Being Fair and Balanced

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Dear Viewers,

For the last two nights we have done segments on the allegations against Bill Cosby (search). At this point it is impossible to know if it is a "shakedown" of a high profile person or a legitimate claim. I don't know how we will ever know and I worry about being fair. I welcome any advice on how to be fair in a developing story like this. As we sort through the matter, we learn additional information and even that information has to be carefully examined.

At the outset of Tuesday night's show, a reporter from Philadelphia Daily News reported that a woman — a lawyer — spoke to the police recently and said that Cosby had made inappropriate advances to her about 30 years ago. Towards the end of the show, during a commercial break, my New York producer told me via my earpiece that the woman — Tamara Green — was on the phone and was available for an interview. We had tried to reach her during the day yesterday. During the next commercial break my producer told me that she had backed out of doing a "phoner" because she had promised NBC's "Today Show" the first interview (Wednesday morning?), but that she would do our show the following night (tonight.)

I missed Wednesday's "Today Show," so I don't know if she appeared on it. I am also happy that it worked out this way — that she will do our show tonight on camera rather than by phone last night. Had we done a phone interview last night, we ran the risk of being unable to determine if it was a crank call, or a legitimate call. Twenty-four hours, and some time for reflection, gives us a chance to make sure that Tamara Green is Tamara Green and not some Howard Stern caller. Of course, in the end, we can't vouch for what she says but only interview her and let you decide whether you believe her and whether her memory is accurate.

Here are some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

Hi Greta,
I watch you all the time-primarily because I’m such a Sean Hannity kind of gal. While I appreciate and enjoy your blogs, I think you should refrain further from reporting all the goofs, mistakes and miscues on your show. "On the Record" is beginning to look like a high school extra-credit project. Once in a while it humanizes the network to hear reports of near disasters, but it’s getting old and you’re losing your credibility reporting all the mistakes you and your staff make. We don’t need to be that “up front” to your world.
All due respect,
Palm Beach Gardens, FL

ANSWER: I report all the "behind the scenes" so that you can understand TV better and so that you can be a part of the show. My staff and I have enormous confidence in our hard work and competence, but we are human and make mistakes. We are not afraid to admit our mistakes and learn from them. Note also that we are not alone in making mistakes in this TV business — it happens to every show that is live. And, from time to time the mistakes are funny, and I enjoy a good laugh even if it is at my own expense.

E-mail No. 2

We love FOX News! In fact, we lobbied our cable company (Comcast) for two years before they finally added FOX in mid-2001 (they were more resistant than Canada).
FOX News is our mainstay evening programming from 5:00-8:00 with Bill, Sean/Alan and Greta. HOWEVER, we are sick to death of erectile dysfunction ads: "if your erection lasts more than (four days!) please contact your doctor." In selecting a target audience, do you really think men who watch FOX News are impotent? What an insult! And do you think sexually-oriented advertisements are appropriate for the evening news hour when families are gathered for the daily news and may be eating dinner? Please be a little more discriminating in selecting appropriate advertisers for your great shows — and "deliver us from evil" taste!
Gloria Beidler

E-mail No. 3

Virginia prohibiting showing of underwear: I think it is disgusting when women are allowed to wear low cut dresses or blouses with their breasts half way protruding out for everyone to see. Why is it that women who are supposed to be the "modest ones" get away with showing us their breasts and wearing "thongs" at the beach so everyone can see their butts, but then the state of Virginia is now prohibiting people from wearing their pants so low that you can see people's underwear? I don't think either thing ought to be allowed. If a man were to wear pants with their partial penis or testicles showing — people would be outraged, so why can women have their breasts showing in public?
Claudia Thompson

E-mail No. 4

I continually see your guests state that sex with a young teenager causes that teenager to suffer psychologically in the future. Are there any studies to show this, what about the young teenagers having sex with each other, are they both scarred for life? When I was a young teenager I was looking for young teenagers, old teenagers, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, forty-somethings, anything. I had some success and don't feel I am scarred. Should I consider myself a victim?

E-mail No. 5 — the next e-mail relates to the bill introduced in the Virginia legislature that fines people for wearing pants that show their underwear:

Wow Greta!
So a right to bare one's butt crack is in the U.S. Constitution? What amendment? I could imagine it being in the French Constitution, but this is the first I've ever heard I have the constitutional right to bare my butt crack! Can I carry and conceal my firearm there?
Be well.
Douglas Ratcliff
Madison, WI

E-mail No. 6

I live in Virginia and believe me there are plenty of white teenagers running around with their pants hanging below the equator, so to speak.
Also, my first thought about the Cosby case was that he has been targeted by those who disagree with his position of telling the black community to take control of their lives and bettering themselves. All this stuff started coming out after he made the headlines recently. Hope the charges are not true.
Betty D.

E-mail No. 7

I watch your show every evening, why would an intelligent man — Dr. Bill Cosby — at this stage of his life/career do such a thing? I am a long time fan, I even watch the reruns of the Cosby show — wholesome, about family. I am hoping that this is about money. He has made such a difference, in both white and black communities. I so hope this is not true.
Keep us informed, Greta. I trust your message and the people you have as regulars.
Margaret Parker
Houston, TX

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