Investigate Frontline/ProPublica’s reporting of “Terror in Little Saigon”
As a taxpayer-supported broadcaster, PBS should maintain the highest standard of journalistic integrity. The program “Terror in Little Saigon” aired by Frontline on November 3, 2015 fails both professional and ethical standards.
We urge you to investigate why and how the reporting team of Frontline and ProPublica was allowed to broadcast a flawed report based on the preconceived narrative of a militant, extremist Vietnamese American community.
Consider the following:
- The program misrepresented key sources.
In order to elicit the desired response, reporter A.C. Thompson interviewed Nguyen Xuan Nghia for four hours over three occasions and aired just the one minute that fit the narrative. Even more alarming, the reporter quoted an alleged remark made off camera by Nghia (used to justify the narrative of the program) which Nghia has stated in a subsequent interview with the Nguoi Viet daily newspaper that he never said.
Other subjects were similarly misrepresented. Although they repeatedly claimed no knowledge of an assassination squad, the reporting team tried to convey a sense of guilt through omitted translations, repeated and leading lines of questioning by the reporter, and deceptive editing.
- The Vietnamese American community is portrayed as a terrorized community.
Just by its name this documentary already established an antagonist as a monster-like character who instilled fear in its victims. This false portrayal facilitated the preconceived narrative that an anti-communist organization must be behind all the unsolved murders.
- The reporting team exhibited a cultural bias demeaning to Vietnamese Americans.
The program labeled Vietnamese Americans who opposed communism and supported a free Vietnam as “vengeful” and “aiming to restart the Vietnam war.” The reporting team treated the viewpoints of non-Vietnamese as authority while dismissing how Vietnamese American describe their own motives and aspirations.
We believe that Frontline and ProPublica should retract this program and apologize to everyone who was misrepresented and falsely accused. The killing of journalists is a grave injustice and reporter A.C. Thompson should be held accountable for a sloppy program that tars many Vietnamese American activists and the overall community.
We ask that you conduct a thorough investigation to maintain the credibility of PBS.
To read/hear the many voices speaking out, visit www.ourlittlesaigon.com.
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