Fired Alabama Public Television CEO May Sue Over Dismissal

Co-author of Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President, Michael Coulter, was interviewed for this article which goes in depth about the firing of Alabama public TV executives. One fired executive suggested that the firings related to refusal to air David Barton’s DVD series about the founding era. The current APTV board says the firings were unrelated to disagreements over programming. After reading the article, I think there is room for skepticism about that denial.

Please read the entire piece, but here is some of the money:

Pizzato [fired CEO] asked a group of APT staff members to watch the Barton videos and give him feedback in April, according to Howland, who participated in the review process. The programs “talked about how our government forefathers were very religious men,” Howland said, “how the country was founded on religious principles and how we need to go back to that.” The content “was very much advocating that position.”

Pizzato and his staff had “grave concerns” that the Barton content was inappropriate for public broadcasting due to its religious nature, Howland said.

Pizzato also sought advice from the station’s attorney in Washington, D.C. Todd Gray of Dow Lohnes confirmed he spoke with Pizzato about the Barton programs but he declined further comment.

In a brief interview with Current, Pizzato declined to discuss the programs or describe how he responded to the commission’s request that APT broadcast the Barton videos.

But minutes of the June 12 meeting, which have not yet been formally approved by the commission, reveal that he proposed a different set of programs for broadcast. Pizzato unveiled a new show, In the Public Interest, which would “tackle issues that have been of some concern to the Commission.” Pizzato also offered to run a 1992 documentary on creationism, Voices for Creation. Creationism also was a potential topic on In the Public Interest,Pizzato told commissioners.

Soon after, the minutes say, commissioners went into executive session to discuss Pizzato’s “general reputation, character and job performance.” About an hour later they returned to announce that they had voted to oust Pizzato and Howland.

According to the article, Pizzato appears to be preparing a suit against the Alabama PTV board. Discovery will be intriguing if it gets that far.