Melanie Morgan, co-host of KSFO-AM 560’s conservative morning show, has been banned from “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS after she got into a heated exchange with Jon Soltz, a vet who heads a group that wants the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq. The two got into one of those verbal brawls common on cable news channels, but rare for the more sober “News Hour.” At one point, host Judy Woodruff interrupts Morgan, who had interrupted Soltz, and says, “I want to let each one of you speak. So, Mr. Soltz, finish that sentence, and then I want to hear…”
“News Hour” Executive Producer Linda Winslow posted the following on the PBS Ombudsman’s Mailbag blog:
- 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.
Morgan made headlines in June for saying that New York Times editor Bill Keller should be jailed for treason for printing stories that revealed methods the government is using to stop terrorists. She said that if Keller were convicted, “I would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber.”