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CPB Ombudsman 'Welcomes' PBS's Agreement to Make New Film, PBS Snubs CPTV
January 9, 2006

CPB Ombudsman 'Welcomes' PBS's Agreement to Make New Film

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Ombudsman Ken A. Bode released a report today in which he "welcomed" PBS's recent agreement to commission another hour long documentary on the issues raised in the film Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories and by the protest campaign against it. Bode, who in two previous reports had endorsed the central charges made by fatherhood advocates protesting the film, noted that "with the possibility of litigation still lingering, PBS did not admit that there was a violation of its

standards of fairness and balance."

Bode's report also contained nearly a dozen letters he'd received about his reports on the film, most of them from protest sympathizers. To read Bode's new report, see "Another Look at "Breaking the Silence: The Children's Stories (1/4/06). Bode's previous two reports can be seen at Corporation for Public Broadcasting Report: 'No Hint of Balance in Breaking the Silence' (11/29/05) and Corporation for Public Broadcasting Blasts Breaking the Silence Again (12/19/05).

Critique of Breaking the Silence Reveals Numerous Falsehoods in Film

Fathers & Families of Massachusetts conducted an extensive review of the assertions made in Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories and found numerous falsehoods and half-truths. The group detailed these in its document A Critique of the Scientific Basis for Key Assertions in Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories

The report found that while the film and those connected to it repeatedly asserted that batterers win shared or sole custody approximately 67% of the time, the only data available in the publications cited shows results of between 3% and 18%.

The Fathers & Families report also asserts:

"No data whatsoever are presented to support the film's central assertion that 75% of fathers who seek custody of their children over the mother's objections are batterers.  The references cited by the film's supporters in most cases are a round-robin of assertions, in which the same pool of authors repeatedly cites each other's opinions, without supporting data."

The film's defenders cited a supportive document which they claimed was written by the American Judges Association. In fact, it was instead written by the American Judges Foundation, a group which does not consist of judges but instead of advocates who seek to "educate" and influence judges. The AJF's lead author was in fact feminist advocate Dr. Lenore Walker. Walker is known as the architect of the controversial "battered woman syndrome" defense of women who kill the men whom they claim abused them.

The document also noted that professor Murray Straus, a noted and widely published domestic violence researcher, has charged in writing that two of his research studies have been misrepresented in the Viewer's Guide that accompanies the film.  In addition, while the film asserts that "children are in most danger from their fathers, according to Straus, "The evidence from many studies, including Federal statistics on child abuse, shows that mothers physically abuse children at a slightly higher rate than fathers."

The entire Fathers & Families report can be read by clicking here.

Introducing Leving's Divorce Magazine

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Comeback Dads
The new book Comeback Dads shows how family courts rob children of their dads and proposes a revised Shared Parenting Bill. ComebackDads.com 

Hartford Courant: PBS Snubs Producers of Breaking the Silence

PBS's anti-father documentary Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories was co-produced by Connecticut Public Television and Tatge/Lasseur Productions. Roger Catlin, the Hartford Courant's TV Critic, today noted that PBS is "responding to harsh criticism" of the documentary "by commissioning a second documentary on the same subject to air this spring. But CPTV won't be producing it."

In his new column 2nd Child-Custody Program To Air: PBS Says This Time CPTV Won't Produce Program (Hartford Courant, 1/6/05), Catlin quoted from PBS's December 21 statement that the hourlong documentary commissioned for spring 2006 "will allow ample opportunity for doctors, psychologists, judges, parent advocates and victims of abuse to have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated."

According to Catlin:

"It is not clear who will make the follow-up documentary, PBS spokeswoman Jan McNamara said Wednesday. 'Our programming department is talking to a number of filmmakers outside of Breaking the Silence's producers,' she said. But, she added, CPTV will not co-produce again. 'It would be done by another production team.'"

Newspaper columnist Glenn Sacks, one of the leaders of the protest campaign against the film, noted that "McNamara and PBS appear to be trying hard to walk right down the middle on this without alienating either side. That's fine--all we wanted from the beginning was balance. If PBS had taken a balanced approach to Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories, there would never have been this controversy."

In his column Catlin also noted that Corporation for Public Broadcasting ombudsman Ken Bode "called PBS' decision for a second documentary 'welcome news,' but said its timetable gives it 'a very short deadline.'"

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Glenn Discusses Restraining Orders on The Bob Conners Morning Show

I discussed abuse of restraining orders and the David Letterman case on The Bob Conners Morning Show on 610 WTVN-AM in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, January 5. In my co-authored column PBS's Breaking the Silence: Family Law in the Funhouse Mirror (Albany Times Union, 10/20/05, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 10/24/05) I noted:

"Many courts grant restraining orders to practically any woman who applies, and research shows that these orders often do not even involve an allegation of violence. Once the order is issued, the father is booted out of his marital home and can even be jailed if he tries to contact his own children.

"By the time the court decides custody, a firm precedent has already been set that mom is the primary caretaker, and she will likely get sole (or de facto sole) custody. The father is pushed to the margins of his own children's lives even though he has never been found guilty of any wrongdoing or criminal offense...[this gives] mothers veto power over fathers' fatherhood."

Female-to-English Dictionary

Dr. Shoveen goes behind the words that women use to reveal their hidden meanings and thought processes.

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Column: DV Lawsuit Will Help Secure Services for All Abuse Victims

My latest co-authored column, California Domestic Violence Lawsuit Will Help Secure Services for All Abuse Victims (Los Angeles Daily Journal, San Francisco Daily Journal, 12/28/05), discusses a new lawsuit filed in order to begin to bring equity to California's domestic violence establishment. I co-authored it with Marc Angelucci, the attorney who filed the suit.

The column begins:

"At the age of 11, Maegan Woods tried to stop a domestic dispute between her parents. She soon found herself staring down the barrel of her father's shotgun. She watched helplessly as the trigger was pulled. She is only alive today because the gun didn't fire--the safety was on.

"Maegan was abused and witnessed domestic violence in her home for most of her childhood. By age seven there had been knife attacks, punches, kicks, and more. It was hard to leave--the abuser was the one who earned the money, and the victim was unable to work because of a disability. On numerous occasions they looked for help to escape the abuse but were refused. Why?"

This is Marc's second attempt to sue over this issue. I discussed his first (unsuccessful) attempt in my column Plaintiff in Suit Against LA DV Shelters is Right to Demand Services for Abused Men (Los Angeles Daily News, 6/12/03).

Legal Help for Dads

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The Rantings of a Single Male: Losing Patience with Feminism, Political Correctness... and Basically Everything describes the rise of feminism from the mid '70s to the present, through Ellis' personal experiences and is loaded with outrageous stories.

Joint Statement by Glenn Sacks and Ned Holstein on PBS Campaign

There is evidently some confusion over recent events in our campaign against PBS's Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories.

A couple weeks ago Glenn wrote that PBS had issued a letter in which they agreed to "commission an hour-long documentary" for the purpose of further examining the "complex and important issues" raised in the film and by our campaign. The full letter is posted on Glenn's website here.

As Glenn noted, PBS says that "plans call for the documentary to be produced and broadcast in Spring 2006" and that the "hour-long treatment of the subject will allow ample opportunity" for those of differing views to "have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated." Glenn commended PBS for "understanding our concerns and taking action to address the situation."

The PBS letter also contained face-saving language defending Breaking the Silence. We had suspected that this would happen, as it is usually the case in such matters. We also expected that PBS's lawyers would not want PBS to admit to anything that could be used against them in the legal action they are currently facing over the documentary.

Unfortunately, a few activists have focused on this face-saving language and missed the real significance of PBS's statement. We asked for a chance to come on one of PBS's shows and present our side of the story. Instead, PBS is commissioning a new documentary on the subject. To do this in response to a protest is a rare concession. The owner of a film production company wrote to Glenn that PBS's action is "absolutely unheard of. In more than 25 years in and around the news media and TV world, I have never seen this sort of retreat by a broadcasting entity." 

PBS has received enormous criticism within the broadcasting community, including from Corporation for Public Broadcasting Ombudsman Ken A. Bode (click here and here) and from PBS's Ombudsman Michael Getler (click here and here). It has also received a lot of negative media attention, as well as over 10,000 calls and letters from protesters. While anything is possible, it is unlikely that PBS is planning to go through the considerable expense and trouble of producing another documentary simply to expose itself to even more criticism and negative attention.

We've said from the beginning that we're not out for blood, we only want balance. PBS's review and statement indicates that we will be receiving the balance we requested.  We will, as the saying goes, "trust but verify," and monitor that PBS will indeed follow through on the stated premise of the new documentary it promises.  Until then, we see no reason for skepticism, and we again thank all of those who participated in our campaign.

Best Wishes,
Glenn Sacks

Ned Holstein, MD, MS

The American Coalition for Fathers and Children

The American Coalition for Fathers and Children is dedicated to creating a family law system which promotes equal rights for all parties affected by divorce.  Contact the ACFC at 1-800-978-3237 or visit them on the web at www.acfc.org.

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PBS Ombudsman Criticizes Breaking the Silence on PBS's News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Says New Film Will Take 'Broader Look' at Issue

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler criticized Breaking the Silence on News Hour with Jim Lehrer, saying the film "had no balance" and was "quite a one-sided presentation." He also mentioned that PBS is "going to do another documentary to take a broader look at this issue."

To listen to audio of Getler's appearance, click here.

The Dakapa Handbook

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Legal Help for Fathers in New Jersey
If you're a New Jersey father facing a divorce or separation, the law firm of Pitman, Pitman, Mindas, Grossman & Lee can help.

Glenn Discusses PBS's Breaking the Silence on The Larry Elder Show

I discussed the campaign against PBS's Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories on the nationally-syndicated Larry Elder Show on December 22, 2005.

Glenn Discusses PBS's Breaking the Silence on KFAX in San Francisco

I discussed the campaign against PBS's Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories on Lifeline on KFAX AM 1100 in San Francisco on January 2, 2006.

Help, Support for Noncustodial Parents

MyKidsToo.com is a website designed to provide safe, peer-to-peer support to non-custodial parents and parents finding themselves in a divorce situation.

Concerned about Financial Issues in Your Divorce?
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Militant Grandmas Fight for Shared Parenting
Three Sides to Every Story is an organization set up by militant grandma Bessie Hudgins to help fathers stay in their children's lives after divorce.

Kim Basinger's Mom: Kim is 'Alienating' Her Daughter from Alec Baldwin

From the Irish Examiner, 12/30/05--no comment needed:

Basinger's mum speaks out about custody battle 

Kim Basinger's mother has blasted her own daughter for wrecking relations between her ex-husband Alec Baldwin and the couple's daughter.

Baldwin recently took Basinger to court in a bid to extend his custody terms after the actress allegedly violated a court imposed settlement, and now little Ireland's grandmother is speaking out about the court battle, which has now been settled.

Ann Basinger admits she sides with Baldwin, who she calls "wonderful," adding, "My heart is sad for Ireland. She's the one that's suffering the most. All this is killing her.

"I think Kim has tried to alienate Ireland from her father. Alec loves his daughter with all his heart. He really is a family man."

And in the National Enquirer expose, Basinger's mother reveals she can understand what her former son-in-law is going through, because she too rarely sees her granddaughter.

She adds: "Kim and I used to be close but now I don't see Ireland very often because Kim won't let me and that's because I won't take her side about everything.

"She's my daughter and I love her, but I hate what she's doing, that she is being this way... I wish I could see more of Ireland. She's such a sweetheart."

Finally a Christian Author Takes a Stand for Men

Christian writer Paul Coughlin takes aim at what he calls a "cultural prejudice that shames men for being men in No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts Men, Women, and Children. The forward was written by Dr. Laura.

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A Victory for Military Parents

Michigan military parents scored a big victory last week with the signing of a military custody bill by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (see the Associated Press' Granholm signs bills to protect custody for deployed parents). I've written several columns on the problems which divorced military personnel face--to learn more, see Laws Must Protect the Rights of Military Dads (Army Times, Marine Corps Times, 3/28/05).

Jim Semerad and Dads of Michigan worked hard to pass the bill. Jim writes:

"Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has signed the military custody bill which would provide:

1. Prevention of a change of custody while a military service member is deployed
2. Prevent the absence from regular parenting time to affect the weighting of the 12 custody factors in custody determination.

"Thanks to Joseph McNeilly, a National Guardsman from Lansing, MI, for his tireless effort and testimony to make this happen, Rep Rick Jones, House sponsor, Sen. Patty Birkholz, Senate sponsor, CDR Jim Semerad, SC, USNR, and DADS and MOMS of Michigan PAC for testimony, numerous correspondence, and telephone contact.

"The staff at Rep. Jones office were enthusiastic and very supportive in making this happen."

The following press release has been issued:

"Governor Granholm Signs Legislation to Protect Parental Rights for Military Personnel

"LANSING--Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today signed legislation that will protect the parental rights of military personnel serving in the Michigan National Guard while they are on active duty.

"'The men and women serving in the military and the reserves sacrifice on our behalf every day,' Granholm said. 'I am proud to sign legislation that will protect them from having to sacrifice even more for their service.'

"The issue of parental rights of military personnel serving overseas gained prominence earlier this year after the story of one mid-Michigan solider received media attention. The soldier, a member of the Michigan National Guard, lost shared custody of his child while serving in Iraq. Friend of the Court papers cited the man's 'abandonment' of the child as a reason for the custody change. Media reports at the time indicated the case was not an isolated problem.

"The two bills signed today by Granholm prohibit Michigan courts from changing custody orders or a child's placement while a parent is on active military duty unless there is convincing evidence that such a change is in the best interests of the child. The bills were given immediate effect.

"'Ensuring that children are protected while their parents serve our country is critically important,' Granholm said. 'This legislation balances the needs of the child and the rights of the parents in challenging circumstances.'"

"House Bill 5100 (Public Act 328) was sponsored by Representative Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Senate Bill 714 (Public Act 327) was sponsored by Senator Patty Birkholz (R-Saugatuck)."

The success in Michigan in helping military parents follows on the heels of our success in California. In September, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 1082, which addresses the way parents who serve are often taken advantage of in custody and family law matters while they are deployed. It will also help resolve the child support nightmare many mobilized reservists face. To learn more about SB 1082, see my co-authored column California's Military Reservists Need SB 1082 (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/14/05).

Working through the Military Parents Alliance, the Sackson Horde helped build support for the bill. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee Analysis of SB 1082 made specific note of your calls and letters. 

Special credit goes to lobbyist Michael Robinson and Stan Diorio of the  California Alliance for Families and Children for their fantastic work in passing this bill. The bill was sponsored by Senators Denise Moreno Ducheny (D-San Diego) and Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside).

According to Robinson, Senator Morrow was first inspired to take up this cause after he read The Betrayal of the Military Father (Los Angeles Daily News, 5/4/03). It is the story of Gary S., a San Diego-based US Navy SEAL whose little boy was permanently moved from California to the Middle East against his will while he was deployed in Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks.  To hear an interview with Gary on His Side, go to Two Years into Iraq War, Little Has Been Done to Protect the Rights of Military Fathers (3/13/05).

Legal Help for Fathers

If you live in Los Angeles, Riverside or Orange counties and you're facing a divorce, separation, or a child custody issue, the law firm of Oddenino & Gaule can help.

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A Woman Who Lost the Father She Loved in Her Parents' Divorce Speaks Out

Therapist Shari Schreiber, M.A., who watched helplessly as the father she loved and needed was ripped out of her life by her mother at age five, is speaking out about her experience. In a heartbreaking new column she writes:

"At five years old, I was caught in the middle of a divorce and custody battle between my parents. ...my father was the healthier parent, and had the presence of mind to recognize this at the time. Still, I was 'awarded' to my mother. Two years after my parents split, my mother was hospitalized and was absent physically and/or emotionally for long stretches of time throughout the remainder of my childhood...Back in the fifties, custody was automatically awarded to mothers. Unfortunately this practice still exists, and the consequences to children can be tragic.

"My father was the source of virtually all my affection and attention, and we shared a very close and special bond. When he left, the bottom of my world dropped out. Being without him trapped me in unimaginable pain and emptiness, and there was no one capable of comforting me or picking up the slack. My mother had [falsely] accused him of 'molestation,' a reliable 'catch word' among vindictive wives and divorce attorneys back then [and now]...

"Dazed, I wandered around for months with what seemed like a huge hole in my middle, like a cannon ball had been shot through me."

Read the rest of Schreiber's gripping story here. Schreiber has endorsed many of our campaigns over the past few years. To learn more about Schreiber and read her other columns, click here.

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The Men's Center Los Angeles offers individual, couple, family and group counseling with a focus on men's issues. Call them at (818) 348-9302 or go to MensCenterLosAngeles.com 

Male Feminist Under Siege

Prominent male feminist blogger Barry Deutsch (aka Ampersand), who runs Alas, a Blog, one of the leading feminist blogs, is under attacks from self-described radical feminists at Why Alas Needs Radical Feminist Woman Only Threads.

It's an interesting discussion, and one which tells you more than you'd ever want to know about the thinking process of radical feminists. For example:

"Ampersand treats feminists and anti-feminists as if our positions had moral equivalence. Why do radical feminists have to request space from a man in the first place? I can't honestly imagine having real feminist discourse in a place run by and for a man, especially a man who has behaved in such a sexist manner towards women previously."

The thrust of the attacks is that Barry is sexist, has betrayed his radical feminist allies, is overly solicitous of MRAs (men's rights activists), and is mistreating a few of the women who post there.

I guess I should keep my yap shut about it, particularly since Barry has criticized me on numerous occasions, but these attacks on him seem pretty unfair. I don't know the details so I could be wrong,  but I doubt that Barry has mistreated radical feminists, and he does seem to make an effort to be fair to all of the posters there. He's worked for years supporting feminists and feminist issues. He's also one of the few feminists on the web who tries to use logic, research, and reason to argue a point.  The attacks on him seem not only inaccurate but downright ungrateful.

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Prostate Cancer Treated Without Surgery or X-Rays
Bill Vancil's book, "Don't Fear the Big Dogs", is the remarkable story of one man's quest to conquer a life threatening disease and bond with his teenage daughter. This highly readable tale takes us from diagnosis through treatment; a journey that will make you feel good just to be alive. Proton treatment has none of the side effects of surgery or standard radiation. This potentially life-saving book is an enjoyable read for anyone and a must-read for all dads.

Child Support Enforcement Attorney Has Interesting Comments on My Column

A child support enforcement attorney wrote to me about my recent co-authored column, Federal Child Support Enforcement Cuts Will Hurt Bureaucrats, not Children (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/17/05, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/16/05), and had some interesting comments. Here are a few:

"I agree with the tone of your article...I feel that the guidelines here in my state are very unfair at the lower income levels.  Take the scenario where there are three children.  The guidelines say that at minimum wage, $892.00, a child support order should be $345 which is 38%.  If the combined income is $15,000, then the child support order should be $1,990 or 13%.  So those who make less are expected to pay a greater percentage of their income than those who earn more and are in a better position to deal with a child support order.  I agree, this is absurd."

"It also annoys me that there is no responsibility on the mothers. Sure, they have the right [noun] to procreate ad nauseum, but it doesn't make it right [the adjective].  Most don't appreciate the difference.  But they will have five kids by four fathers then bitch at us because we can't locate the losers they chose to sleep with."

"I have been solicited about a half-dozen times in the last two weeks to contact my congressmen regarding the legislation [the cut in federal reimbursement funds for child support enforcement].  I find it objectionable to solicit me to take political action for a particular position."

Best Wishes,
Glenn Sacks

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