MediaWatch: October 1989

Vol. Three No. 10

One-Party PBS

The misguided moguls of public broadcasting continue to throw good money after bad political programming. The latest example is The Struggle for Democracy, a seven-part series narrated and produced by Canadian Patrick Watson. In the final episode that aired September 12, Watson contemplated the secret to successful democracies like... the one-party Marxist state of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe?

Yes, Watson found that "Compared with some African horror stories, Zimbabwe has to be a democratic success, despite the one-party state." During the hour-long broadcast, Watson called Zimbabwe an "independent legitimate nation," an "independent democracy," and an "independent multi-racial democracy."

This last appellation was the most humorous, especially since Watson mentioned that during taping of the series "the 20 seats reserved in the Assembly for whites were in the process of being eliminated." Watson didn't even blink when Didymus Mutasa, Speaker of Zimbabwe's Assembly, explained that "The idea of opposition doesn't really come into the thinking of the African," and those who disagree with the rules' edicts leave the country.

Another "democratic success" for Watson: New Zealand's refusal to allow America's nuclear battleships into port. "It's partly because of countries like New Zealand that Robert McNamara's "average citizen' has the confidence to oppose nuclear policies, Western or Soviet, that threaten us all," Watson proclaimed.

He further proved his inability to discern a difference between communist and democratic nations when he asked New Zealand's then-Prime Minister David Lange "What's the lesson for other countries trying to be independent in the face of superpower pressure? Jamaica? Nicaragua?