The following letter was sent by KOAM General Manager Danny Thomas to viewers who asked that the special not be broadcast:
Thank you for your comments and concerns over the upcoming 9/11 Documentary special. First let me say that we will not be airing the documentary when the network broadcasts it at 7:00 pm Sunday, September 10th. We will tape the documentary and air it at 11:30 pm that same evening. Second, let me thank you for your time and interest in writing us at KOAM. I could end my response now and you would probably think highly of me. However, I feel it equally important to share with you my opinion, as you did with me, and give you some additional information regarding the 9/11 Documentary.
You were one of a little over 80 people who acted on a request of the American Family Association to complain about the Documentary. There are over 325,000 viewers of our station, most of which, through CBS's extensive promotion, expect to see the 9/11 Documentary. I appreciate your motivation. All of us realize that the world could be a better place. Many of us are extremely busy keeping up with family demands and the demands of everyday life and have little or no available time to research. If you received an e-mail that told you that by typing a few words and sending it to CBS affiliates, you could make a difference in the world, you would probably do so and walk away thinking you had done your part to improve the world.
Here's what I believe persuaded you to write us:
First, I find myself wondering if you might have been duped into sending your e-mail without having all the facts before you. This Documentary has aired twice before and in doing so won a Peabody Award, Emmy Award, Edward R. Murrow Award and American Writer's Guild Award. Were you or your organization offended the other two times the Documentary aired? We received no complaints on either of those broadcasts. On September 11, 2001, a film crew was following a rookie New York City Firefighter showing an ordinary day on the job. As we all know now, September 11 turned out to be no ordinary day. As the first plane hit the World Trade Center and Firehouses began their response, the documentary crew was filming. The Firefighters in the horror and chaos of the moment said some words that are not considered appropriate by most. Unfortunately, many of the Firefighters who spoke those words in the early moments of the tragedy later perished trying to save others and all were recognized as heroes. The words weren't written by some show writer to test America's tolerance to profanity. They were not scripted to shock viewers. They were the result of genuine horror and dismay at what the speakers were witnessing. Many, including CBS, feel to sanitize those reflexive comments would do injustice to the horror that happened just as not showing the second plane hitting the second tower because of its graphic nature would somehow make the event less shocking. History should not be cleaned up or sanitized to disguise its reality.
Second, I think The American Family Association may lose some credibility with their position. They have chosen to target a historical documentary. Firefighter organizations, Public Service Groups, Veterans Organizations and many citizens will likely be offended by your efforts to stop this broadcast. Last year ABC aired the theatrical movie "Saving Private Ryan" which included the "F____ word" more than eight times. The movie was scripted, not real. It aired uncensored and unsanctioned by the FCC because the FCC felt the show was of an “artistic nature.” Did you comment on that? Statistically, 85% of you subscribe to either Cable or Satellite. If you are a Cable subscriber, you are unwittingly underwriting and funding programming that has no boundaries or regulation on decency and even provides pay-per-view pornography.
After reading this, I hope you have a better understanding, and in doing so, you either have the same level of conviction to your position as you did when you sent us your e-mail, or you may feel that your position has changed. In either case, I respect your position. Thank you for letting me share with you another aspect of this subject and thank you for watching KOAM-TV.
President / General Manager
I share many of the concerns the American Family Association has about the seemingly unended expansion of vulgar language on television shows, but mounting a campaign against this kind of program is ludicrous. Many times, the language has no purpose other than shock value; however, the fact that television station officials are so afraid of FCC fines that they have to make decisions like this is not a good sign for a country that prides itself on its freedoms.