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Congressmen slam CBS for homeschool story

CBS News has come under fire from members of Congress who say they
were “deeply offended” by a lop-sided “Eye on America” series on
homeschooling that aired earlier this month.

“As members of Congress who either homeschool our own children or
support the right of parents to homeschool, we were deeply offended by the recent ‘Eye on America’ dealing with homeschooling,” reads an Oct. 22 letter
sent to CBS News president Andrew Heyward. “You chose to take a handful of
tragic incidents and, from them, cast aspersions on the entire homeschool
movement. Your report was unfair and indicative of both bias and ignorance.”

Thirty-three members of Congress signed the letter.

Most of them are members of the Republican Study

Committee, a group of over 85 House Republicans organized for the

purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda.

Rep. Todd Akin,

R-Mo., who homeschooled – and currently homeschools – his five

children spearheaded the effort. Akin’s son, Perry, recently graduated from the

Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.



Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo.

“The congressman feels the vast majority of people who homeschool are

very serious about it and are concerned about the quality of their children’s

education and welfare,” Akin’s spokesman, Steve Taylor, told WorldNetDaily.

Described by National Review as “one of the most bizarre news

judgments ever,” the two-part report that aired Oct. 13-14 focused on a

handful of child-abuse cases from the past decade involving families who

claim to homeschool their children.



Dan Rather

As first reported by WorldNetDaily, the reports inflamed the homeschooling community.

“We are outraged that CBS would ignore the obvious facts and draw the

erroneous conclusion that homeschoolers need to be strictly regulated,” said

J. Michael Smith, president of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association.

“The story is a shameless attempt to smear an entire community of

committed, dedicated parents.”

The first segment featured a North Carolina couple, the Warrens,

who claimed they homeschooled their children but were discovered to have

kept them in squalor. Two of the children were killed by their 14-year-old

brother who then killed himself.

“The school bus never stopped at the secluded trailer on Hickory

Crossroads here in rural North Carolina … because for five years Nissa and

Kent Warren homeschooled their children,” the segment began. “Then county

workers got an anonymous tip: Better check on those kids.”

Next came reaction from a local district attorney: “I was stunned at the

squalor that I saw. There was rotting food, animal feces on the floor. … Is this a

location where you could expect somebody could be learning lessons and

going to school?”

In his introduction to the sensational report, CBS

Evening News anchor Dan Rather intoned:

“You’ve heard the success stories, and there are many. This

homeschooled child won a big spelling bee. That child a geography bee. And

most parents involved in homeschooling have their childrens’ best interest at

heart. But in an Eye on America investigation, CBS’ Vince Gonzales

uncovered a dark side to this largely unregulated system of

education.”

The letter points out what CBS left out of the report and questions its conclusion that more regulation over homeschooling is needed.

“What your correspondent, Vince Gonzales, failed to mention in his

segment was the numerous child protection laws [that] already exist that could

have been used to safeguard the children in question,” the letter reads. “In

point of fact, North Carolina Social Services had repeated contact with the

family and had even removed the children from the home for a time. Despite

numerous laws and the involvement of state agencies, this tragedy occurred.”

In response to WorldNetDaily’s call seeking comment, a CBS

spokesperson quoted Heyward as saying, “this will be addressed.”

More than 1.6 million children are homeschooled in America, with the

number of families choosing the alternative to public school at an estimated

rate of 7-15 percent a year.

The letter underscored the achievement of homeschooled children,

who score, on average, 80 points higher on the SAT and who are actively

recruited by admissions officers at Harvard, Rice and Stanford

University.

“We sincerely hope reporting of this kind is the exception and not the rule

at CBS,” the letter concludes.

In the meantime, CBS is taking heat for its upcoming miniseries on former President Ronald Reagan and his wife.

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., fired off his own letter registering his “serious concerns” over another apparent liberal smear.



Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va.

“CBS, as one of the most watched and respected American television networks, has a duty to its audience, sponsors and history to create an accurate and fair biography of the Reagans,” Cantor wrote in the Oct. 22 letter to CBS President and CEO Les Moonves.

WorldNetDaily has reported Moonves responded to mounting criticism and a boycott by saying the network is adjusting the script to present a more balanced view.



Les Moonves

In an interview with Tina Brown broadcast last night on CNBC,

Moonves said criticism of a film nobody has seen is “rather odd” but pledged “changes will be made.”

The miniseries, set for airing Nov. 16 and 18, includes scenes of Reagan

cursing at his staff and his wife slapping her daughter, according to the

script excerpts. Other scenes show the former president declaring he is the

anti-Christ and, in response to AIDS, stating, “They that live in sin shall die

in sin” – though there is no record of him saying such things.

Sponsors of the program have not been announced and might remain unknown
or undetermined until just prior to its airing. Some boycotters are
targeting advertisers for other CBS
programs
.

Previous stories:

CBS warns of

homeschooling’s ‘dark side’

CBS rethinks ‘The

Reagans’

Boycott launched of

CBS’ ‘Reagans’

Will CBS smear ailing

Reagan?

Related story:

CBS television thrusting

‘married gays’ on public

Related column:

The dark side of

CBS

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