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  1. I watched the West Wing last night (as I try to do every week), and I rolled my eyeballs a little at the show's characterization of the fictional "TVA", but I thought it was quite an interesting issue being examined. Evidently the real-life TVC's response was more than a roll of the eyes. The group issued the following press release -- unfortunately, a little lacking in class IMHO. Did you see the episode? Do you think TVC's response is warranted? -tw --------------- For Immediate Release March 4, 2004 Contact: Amy Skeen (202) 547-8570 "WEST WING" PORTRAYAL SMEARS TVC GLOSSES OVER NIH CORRUPTION Liberal Program Ties TVC To "God Hates Fags" Extremist Washington, DC - Officials at the Traditional Values Coalition sent a letter of protest Thursday to the producers of the NBC-TV program "The West Wing" concerning its portrayal of the Coalition in last night's episode. The episode centered on the activities of the "Traditional Values Alliance" and the group's protest of questionable National Institutes of Health grant practices. In fact, the Traditional Values Coalition has protested NIH grantmaking in circumstances very similar to those described in the episode. "As ABC-TV's Primetime Thursday program and other investigative reports are about to air on corrupt grantmaking practices at NIH, the liberal establishment is pulling out all the stops to defend the NIH flow of taxpayer dollars into its favorite causes," said TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty today. "Last night's 'West Wing' show is another sound of the death rattle of liberalism bankrolled by federal dollars. In a letter to the show's Executive Producer John Wells, Mrs. Lafferty and TVC Chairman Rev. Louis P. Sheldon complained about the program's attempt to link TVC to an extremist pastor. "The problem came as your script did some asides about the Traditional Values Coalition. The most fantastic was your attempt to smear us by linking us to a group which states "The Lord Hates Homosexuals." This sounds to me like the Rev. Fred Phelps who pops up in real life (way too often) arguing "God Hates Fags." The Traditional Values Coalition has publicly criticized Rev. Phelps for this outrageous distortion of the Gospel, particularly some of the stunts he and his followers have done concerning the death of Matthew Shepard." "It's a pity that your program could not resist the temptation of the cheap shot. A balanced story portraying the issues and the serious people involved in this could have been thought-provoking drama. Instead, you chose to attach some sinister motives to the people with whom you disagree. " -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- March 4, 2004 Mr. John Wells Executive Producer The West Wing NBC 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, New York 10112 Dear Mr. Wells: It was entirely by chance that I tuned into "The West Wing" program last night. I know it is supposed to be amusing fiction, but the idea of a group of liberals running the White House is difficult for me to watch. It is closer to horror than fiction for me. I remember the last time liberals were in charge there and it remains for me (and most Americans) far too vivid and frightening a memory. Your portrayal of the Traditional Values Alliance closely follows an actual event involving my organization and the National Institutes of Health. I thought Congresswoman Leighton accurately delivered much of the argument the Traditional Values Coalition has made in real life. I don't know her character enough to put this in the context of her earlier appearances in the show where she may have been portrayed as an axe murderer, for example. And I also thought the actors speaking the pro-lot lizard research arguments were as hysterical about "scientific McCarthyism" as their real life counterparts. Their "bottom line" orientation of getting as much taxpayer money as possible into the hands of researchers who favor their cause was also accurately portrayed. The problem came as your script did some asides about the Traditional Values Coalition. The most fantastic was your attempt to smear us by linking us to a group which states "The Lord Hates Homosexuals." This sounds to me like the Rev. Fred Phelps who pops up in real life (way too often) arguing "God Hates Fags." The Traditional Values Coalition has publicly criticized Rev. Phelps for this outrageous distortion of the Gospel, particularly some of the stunts he and his followers have done concerning the death of Matthew Shepard. It's a pity that your program could not resist the temptation of the cheap shot. A balanced story portraying the issues and the serious people involved in this could have been thought-provoking drama. Instead, you chose to attach some sinister motives to the people with whom you disagree. I suggest you stick to fiction and avoid venturing close to the precipice of real life situations. You might want to review some of those old Star Trek episodes. President Bartlett could do an episode where he is a cowboy and then wakes up from his dream at the end of the show. Fiction which pretends it has something important to say but simply (and I mean simply in every sense of the word) presents the political bias of its writers is going to be found out sooner or later. Sincerely, Andrea Lafferty Executive Director Rev. Louis P. Sheldon Chairman
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