History Channel's JFK Series Sparks Free Speech Debate

Should the salacious new series be banned?

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Fresh debates over free speech are emerging following a controversy over The Kennedys, a planned mini-series on the History Channel. Robert Greenwald, a liberal filmmaker, wants the series scrapped because of its perceived right-wing bias. He made a short film denouncing it and is collecting online signatures. Why is he hell-bent against the series? Its creator is right-wing producer Joel Surnow--acclaimed creator of Fox's 24. Moreover, early scripts show that it focuses heavily on Kennedy's notorious philandering. But is Greenwald's attempt to ban the film going too far?

A pair of pundits grapple with the issue:

  • We're Entering a New Era of Right-Wing Propaganda, writes Digby at Hullabaloo: "In the age of Citizens United this is going to become an ever bigger problem. The right is going to continue to create explicitly political fiction and sell it as history ... And we are all going to be faced with the awful tension of not wanting to stifle free speech while battling back conservative propaganda."
  • Free Speech Always Comes First, writes Robert Stein at Connecting.the.Dots: "With all respect to Robert Greenwald, an estimable First Amendment defender, it's hard not to see this as attempted censorship. Denouncing the proposed film is one thing, pressuring the medium that is planning to show it is another... As a journalist who covered and admired JFK, I won't be watching this new movie, but neither will I be signing any petitions to stop it."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.