MediaWatch: April 1989

Vol. Three No. 4

Leftist Reporter Given PBS Show

What does one do with an aging, left-leaning reporter who's battling civil suits for libel and copyright infringement? If you are the Public Broadcasting System, you give him a weekly half-hour public affairs show forum for his views.

Each week more than 70 PBS affiliates air The Kwitny Report, hosted by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Kwitny. On a recent broadcast, Kwitny featured a hostile profile of anti-communist guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, calling him, "just one more blood-stained autocrat on the U.S. taxpayers' payroll." Some footage was supplied by the Cuban U.N. Mission.

In February, Kwitny was found liable in Southern District of New York Federal Court of copyright infringement for his 1984 book, Endless Enemies. The book denounced American "interventionism" in Central America and elsewhere in the world, while comparing Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro favorably with Polish Labor Leader Lech Walesa.

Despite the removal of Endless Enemies from the shelves by nervous book store owners during litigation, Kwitny hawked it at the end of a March broadcast last year as a premium to subscribers to PBS' New York affiliate, WNYC-TV, which produces The Kwitny Report. This resulted in a second infringement suit against Kwitny. He is also fighting libel suit from a 1987 appearance on a local New York Cable program in which he repeated the charges made in Endless Enemies. At present, PBS doesn't seem bothered by either Kwitny's legal difficulties or his enthusiasm for promoting left-wing views "considering that none are ever seen on television anywhere," according to Kwitny in WNYC's monthly program guide.