Friday, January 26, 2007

Even More Hand of God...

OK, More "Hand Of God"
Msgr. Pedro Briseño Responds

Note: Additional "Letters to the Editor" have been posted under the "Comments" section of this post on Sunday, 01/28/07.

More added on Monday, 01/29/07

Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2007 12:40:14 EST

Subject: In response to your message for KMBH

I appreciate the opportunity to offer my explanations to you, since the newspapers wrongly reported on Friday what was a simple scheduling incident. My responses to the reporter's inquiries were not published but one day later. The damage had already been done as you can see through your own feelings!

Putting aside all the intriguing and at times inflammatory language that has run lately on the newspapers about KMBH, public radio and public television in the Rio Grande Valley, I assure you we do not exercise censorship on the programming we broadcast.

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville has only been the main supporter and the founder of this educational institution that is RGV Educational Broadcasting.

I understand the apprehension of some people when they learn about the relationship of the Church with our stations, in the context of the bad press the Church has received at least for the last five years all over the country after the scandal of sex abuse by clergy was exhibited by The Globe in Boston. By the way, our radio station Public Radio 88 FM transmitted on Thursday and Friday, January 11 and 12, three extensive reports on this whole issue during All Things Considered.

It calls my attention that none of those who are so dismayed for the absence of this topic on Frontline of January 16 (that was shown on KMBH later in the night) gives us any credit for having covered the topic on Radio.

Finally and as a matter of clarification... If still and again due to the bad press shed on clergy for the last years in the US I am a target of suspicion let me tell you that I am here as a GM not because I am a clergy but because I have been a professional of the media for the last thirty years. By the way I began my career as a journalist and then I made it to the position of editor and publisher for many years in four different countries. Not boasting, just for the records.

Msgr. Pedro Briseño - KMBH General Manager

And this from the Brownsville Herald:

Diocese Censors Public Broadcast
To the Editor:

On Jan. 16 the “Frontline” program on our local PBS station was to be an investigation of the archdiocese of Boston. The story, however, was replaced by one about the Taliban.

When contacted by phone, a station representative said that the station manager did not want the Boston archdiocese story broadcast until he had a chance to view it, so a worker was to tape it for him.

The station manager is none other than Father Pedro Briseño, pastor of a Harlingen parish. This obviously creates a conflict of interest between PBS and the church.

Just because the Diocese of Brownsville owns and operates the local PBS station, does it have the right to censor programs and delete any program it feels might be harmful to the reputation to the church? This must be contrary to PBS policy and should warrant an investigation.

Interesting that the program was replaced by a story about the Taliban — was not Briseño using Taliban tactics of censorship himself?

Perhaps he knows that one day the investigation could very well be about the Diocese of Brownsville rather than Boston.

Eleanor Marks
San Juan

It is sad to see that our children are not even safe in church. That is certainly not to say that the church is evil, but it just makes you feel so helpless. I just can't stand the thought that these heartless people disguise themselves as diciples of our Lord and hurt innocent people.

Yes, of course Father Briseno removed the program. Has he put it back on? Will he ever? No, because it would make the church look bad. so he is doing what is in his and the diocese's "best" interest, which of course just makes his actions all the more suspicious. If there is nothing to hide, then show it. It can't be because of the appropriateness of it's content. They played the taliban video didn't they? So, our local government is corrupt. Now our Diocese? We don't have a chance in ________ !

Again, plese do not misunderstand my comment. I know that there are people out there that devote their life to God and they are very good people.

Posted by: priscilla on Jan 25, 07 11:06 am


Anonymous said...

This story won't die. But instead of facing it and doing the honorable thing: turning KMBH over to impartial hands, the bishop will ride the church down further into hell on this one. Oh, bishop, what punishment awaits you?

Anonymous said...

Sad, but true. I find myself shameful that I can read an explanation from a Monsignor of my church, yet still question its validity? God help me!

Kanickers said...

Letters from Local Papers – Re: Hand of God
Another View by F.W. Bauer

Do we want programming through a 'Catholic filter'?

KMBH and its delayed airing of the program, "Hand of God," prompts this 68 year-old, cradle-Catholic to write my first-ever letter to the editor.

Hopefully someone, other than me, sees the license and ownership of public broadcasting outlets by the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville with concern. I believe it is a threat to this country, a danger and a violation of public trust.

I have been an active listener of public broadcasting for many years. Desiring to listen to public broadcasting in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, I have no choice other than KMBH. This past week, I repeatedly listened to KMBH's general manager, Msgr. Pedro Briseño's indictment of Bruce Lee Smith, reporter for the Valley Morning Star. Claiming "good journalism," KMBH gave its version of events surrounding the station's decision to not air the Frontline program, "Hand of God," at the regularly scheduled time.

While accusing Mr. Smith of "poor journalism," Msgr. Briseño failed to inform the listeners of the questions that Mr. Smith asked and the information that he sought. I note, for the record, that the VMS provided its readers the complete text of both Mr. Smith's e-mail and the KMBH press release. I believe I can judge which organization practices "good journalism."

Nowhere, as I read the station's press release, did I find an answer to any of the 11 questions asked by Mr. Smith in his e-mail. It is obvious to me Msgr. Briseño does not want to answer the questions.

Nor does the management of KMBH want the listeners and supporters of public broadcasting to understand the depth and extent of the "filter" that the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville uses to prohibit a free and open exchange of ideas, news and topics in this area, a freedom that is enjoyed by listeners of public broadcasting in the rest of our country. I urge KMBH to answer, fully, all the questions asked. In the public interest, I encourage Mr. Smith to continue his efforts to get the answers.

I am a Winter Texan who has come to the Valley for more than 20 years. The ownership of KMBH, both radio and television, by the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville has been troubling for me because, as a Catholic, I am fully aware of rigid positions held by the Catholic Church on topics such as abortion and capitol punishment, among others.

During my many winter stays, I have listened to the Lower Rio Grande Valley's version of public broadcasting and I have long suspected the existence of a "Catholic filter" in KMBH's choice of programming. I applaud the concern of this reporter. It is my concern.

Last spring, I heard a request on KMBH radio for public input on its application for license renewal. I went to the station on North Tennessee Street to complete the form and have it included with the application for renewal. KMBH staff told me they would not include my letter of concern with the application, but instead referred me to the Federal Communications Commission Web site.

Sadly, I did not follow through. I assume the renewal of license was granted and that the next opportunity to dissolve the "Catholic filter" is lost for several years. Nonetheless, I urge those viewers and listeners who share my concern to challenge the renewal of KMBH for license at the next opportunity.

I am a longtime listener and viewer. Public broadcasting has great value. A "Catholic filter" on idea, thought and discussion may have been appropriate in the Dark Ages, when an educated and free-thinking public did not exist. Such a filter is inappropriate today!

Hence, I have not supported, nor do I encourage support, for KMBH at this time. Hopefully, I can support KMBH in the future.

F.W. Bauer is a resident of Harlingen.

Story exposed bias of Catholic diocese

Applause to your reporter, Bruce Lee Smith, for exposing the KMBH Catholic establishment's bias.

More applause to Joe and Rosa Perez. We have greatly enjoyed their program. This loss is the price we will all pay for the censorship your story revealed.

The "Frontline" program, "Hand of God," evidently was determined to be inappropriate or worse for the public.

Public broadcasting is supposed to be educational. Is Monsignor Pedro Briseño standing in the church doorway and preventing programming out of his fear or his ignorance?

Ann Hope
Rio Hondo

We were treated like children

Frankly, Mr. Perez, I am embarrassed, too. What percentage of viewers watch KMBH -TV in our community?

I read the answer to Mr. Bruce Lee Smith's e-mail to Monsignor Pedro Briseño. To me, it didn't sound like any information other than a reprimand of VMS as a newspaper. I feel Monsignor Briseño's reply and his not airing Frontline's "Hand of God" did more harm than good regarding the integrity of the Catholic Church and KMBH-TV. If the event is as Monsignor Briseño states, he should have aired the program later and stated that it wasn't received in time.

I agree, Mr. Perez, that it is like being treated as children.

Our home watches KMBH-TV because it is a public television station. We feel we get detailed, less biased information. I guess I was wrong. In our travels in life, we have always supported public radio and television wherever we have lived.

It will be interesting to see what evolves here. It would be nice to see "Hand of God," Monsignor Briseño, now that not airing it has caused such a fiasco.

Virginia A. Carubia

Pulling 'Frontline' was responsible act

I have been reading this past week the personal battle between Bruce Lee Smith and other liberals and the Catholic Church. Personally, I'm glad they put "Frontline" at the back of the line. I think the priest sex scandal is old news. The church has made many moves to correct its past mistakes. We are all human and none of us are without sins, including priests.

It's funny how the truth has been turned around. Mr. Nuñez, in his letter, said that the annual retreat for Valley clergy was deliberately scheduled for that week because of the programming. I know for a fact that the retreat is scheduled for this time every year.

As for the couple that dropped their show because they didn't show that "Front-line" episode and accused the station manager of acting like a third-grader, well it seems like your actions are just as childish.

Where are all those who watch KMBH because they offer the religious programming? They are not complaining. What about all those young mothers who get a break in the morning because their 2-year-olds are glued to the TV watching "Sesame Street," "Teletubbies" or "Barney"? They are not complaining.

I support KMBH even though I don't like the one-sided liberal views of PBS. The Valley and the KMBH viewing area is mostly Christian and mostly Catholic. The majority of viewers are not objecting to the actions of General Manager Monsignor Pedro Briseño.

KMBH, you have my support. In fact you have earned my respect. They call it censorship; I call it responsible programming.

The Diocese of Brownsville has been offsetting the cost for public radio and TV for quite some time and for this we should be grateful, not critical.

Danny Villarreal

Kanickers said...

From the Monitor
Letters to the Editor

January 29,2007
The Monitor

Public broadcasting in Valley is a sham

To the editor:
I thank The Monitor for calling attention to a situation that has existed virtually since the beginning of the Valley’s access to public broadcasting and National Public Radio.

I often feel guilty for listening to a few programs on KMBH/KHID FM radio and occasionally watching a good production on KMBH TV without sending a monetary contribution to these stations, but my sense of fairness prevails.

These stations are the Valley’s only sources for PBS and NPR programming, but unfortunately, despite the "public" label, all broadcasts are filtered through the fine mesh of Roman Catholic dogma; as owner of the stations, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville censors the stations’ offerings, and we don’t get nearly the full contingent of what PBS and NPR have to offer nationwide.

PBS and NPR are intended to reflect a broad, unbiased range of cultural and artistic experiences, but calling KMBH and KMBH/KHID "public" stations is a travesty.

Thanks to recent advances in technology, we have an alternative. For the same amount of money solicited by KMBH and KMBH/KHID, we can buy a satellite radio receiver and a subscription to Sirius or XM radio, and get a far broader choice of noncommercial programming, including uncensored NPR. I no longer feel guilty about not supporting KMBH/KHID FM, as I turn off 88.1 on my radio and tune in to my Sirius.

Joe and Rosa Perez deserve applause for taking a stand against blatant cultural censorship by pulling "North of the Border" from KMBH/KHID FM, and for admitting that they are embarrassed to be associated with this pseudo-public radio station.

If we want genuine public broadcasting in the Valley, we must refuse to support stations owned by any religious or other self-serving organization. We don’t have to settle for censorship and inferior programming!

Patricia Barrett,

Church did wrong; don’t try to hide it

To the editor:
Re: "Monitor’s apparent preferences obvious, Jan. 21, 2007, issue of The Monitor.

Ray Thomas attacks the messenger (Call to Action) for trying to correct evil (sexually predaceous clergy) in the Catholic Church. Of course, what he claims about Call to Action is not true; they do not seek to destroy the church.

The lunacy of Nebraska’s Bishop Bruskewitz in calling for excommunication is a topic for another letter. Furthermore, it is not true that the Vatican agreed; they simply said he, as a bishop, has the right to do whatever (i.e., we wash our hands of it, just like Pontius Pilate).

From Thomas’ letter it sure seems that he is trying to help protect abusive clergy. It may not be what he actually says, but by attacking the local Call to Action whose main objective in the Valley is to out sexually predaceous clergy in order to protect the faithful and by attacking The Monitor who simply reported a clumsy attempt by a diocese-owned TV station to prevent a discussion of pedophilia by a priest, it sure looks like Thomas supports sexual predation. One is not a faithful Catholic by defending the Church when it errs.

Guy Hallman,

Church’s censorship is an act of pure evil

To the editor:
It is truly sad that the local Catholic diocese is just perpetuating the practice of spin and avoidance.

An obvious act of censorship (by being one of less than a handful of PBS stations not airing the Frontline episode Hand of God at
8 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 23) drew questions from both the public and the local paper.

Rather than addressing the questions from the Valley Morning Star, they chose a rambling press release that said nothing.

The phrase, "Evil flourishes where good men do nothing," comes to mind.

Gentlemen, please stand up and be good men. Gain some respect by recognizing that the way to "fix" a problem is through open dialogue and not hiding information.

Isn’t the first word in PBS public?

Mary E. Smith,

Kanickers said...

More from Valley Newspapers.

Keep pursuing KMBH investigation

In the interests of investigative journalism, the VMS submitted 12 questions about KMBH's failure to show the documentary of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, "Hand of God," to the general manager of the diocese-owned station, Monsignor Pedro Briseño. In his diatribe attacking the newspaper, Briseño gave seven answers and none of them matched the questions asked! Please continue to investigate this story.

I would like some background: How did the diocese come to own "public" broadcasting in the Rio Grande Valley? What are the conflicts of interest? What other shenanigans has Briseño pulled to pre-empt public broadcasting? Why hasn't the bishop fired him? Better yet, why doesn't the bishop announce that, in the interests of fair play and truth (alien concepts for the bishop?), he will give up control of public broadcasting?

Please continue to look into this grave problem, which harms our ability to receive the first-class media that public broadcasting usually represents.

Guy Hallman