Old Story, But Chilling – Channel One Ran Story on Jeffrey Dahmer in Classrooms

October 28, 1999

“It made me think about all of the terrible things my kids were exposed to in public school over the years – and none of us parents could ‘censor’ any of it. For instance, I was livid when Channel 1 broadcast news of Jeffrey Dahmer’s hideous murders directly into my kids’ classroom several years ago. I had censored it at home.”

Alcestis “Cooky” Oberg writing in “The Forum” section of USA Today, October 25, 1999. “Prayer before football games? So what’s the harm?” (Page 19A) She is a freelance writer living in Texas and is a member of USA Today’s board of contributors.

From Jim Metrock: Ms. Oberg would be shocked that little has changed with Channel One since the early 90’s. Channel One has done much mischief in the past three years. For example, they ran a long story on the shooting of the convicted felony Tupac Shakur to their captive audience of schoolchildren. Shakur was notorious for his drug-drenched brand of music that glorified violence and rape. They urged children to use dangerous chat rooms they had created. They ran an ad for Stephen King’s “The Shining” that shows a deranged father menacing his son with a croquet mallet and the boy being yanked out a hallway by monstrous hands.

Channel One’s web site wrote movie reviews of ultra-violent “R”-rated movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Kiss the Girls”. Their stories on teen suicide, teen depression, teen crime, teen drug usage when combined with their unnatural fondness for covering plane crashes, school bus accidents, and natural disasters would tend to unnerve any child.

Channel One is a dismal way to start a school day. When a school district gives up control of one hour a week of their school time to the Hollywood studio of Channel One, the school gets routinely surprised. That is why you don’t surrender local control to marketers.

If you called Channel One up right now (212-508-6800), and asked any executive near the phone “What about the Dahmer story?”, he or she would tell you that a different Channel One did that. If you are confused, read on.

There is always a “new” group of Channel One executives that come in and say they are cleaning up the mess the previous “new” group made in the lives of children. They always ask for time to make things better. They build “firewalls” between themselves and any bad thing Channel One has done before.

For example, when PRIMEDIA bought Channel One from Whittle Communications in late 1994, Channel One wanted a firewall between the “New Channel One” and the Whittle one. David Tanzer was president of the “new” Channel One and he wasn’t responsible for the wild and woolly Whittle days.

Then last year, Tanzer was relieved of duties and Kevin McAliley, the new president, erected a firewall between the “New, New Channel One” and the excesses under Tanzer. Channel One under Tanzer ran movie ads for children, created a very offensive and dangerous web site for children, and played music in the classroom from groups like Marilyn Manson.

Channel One didn’t need to be accountable. As long as they got new management in – no problem! They didn’t concern themselves with the harm done to children by the previous version of Channel One. Why should they? They weren’t around when that stuff happened. That was David Tanzer’s fault. It’s like Exxon firing the captain of the Valdez after the oil spill and telling the world, “Why are you looking at us? The guy that made all the mess is gone. Don’t ask us about the oil spill ever again.”

Dr. Paul Folkemer was hired about the same time as McAliley. Folkemer, a retired middle school principal was paid big money to create an educational look to Channel One. It seems that they held themselves up to be an “educational” organization but had forgotten to hire any educator. Opps. So Folkemer urges school boards to “trust” him. The mess made by the previous Channel One would be cleaned up. “I am one of you,” Dr. Folkemer all but says to educators upset with Channel One. Yet as we have seen since his hiring, Channel One is in many ways worse than before. (“The Mummy”, “Dawson’s Creek”, “Never Been Kissed”, “The Waterboy”, and Eddie Murphy’s “The Holy Man” are some of the Folkemer Fare that children had to endure since his hiring.)

Well, McAliley “abruptly resigned” several weeks ago, and now the long-suffering public is suppose to forget about the sins of Channel One in 1998 and 1999. A new president has been appointed, but the real powerhouse at the besieged company is a lobbyist who is in charge of Public Affairs named Jeff Ballabon. Ballabon tells people (can you guess?) to “trust him”. He will correct the mistakes of the past.

It is much like Lucy pulling the football away when Charlie Brown goes to kick it. She always convinces Charlie Brown to “trust” her one more time. And he does. And in the last frame, he is always on his back. Up until three years ago, Channel One was made out of Teflon. The Teflon is worn out. Everything sticks now. As well it should.

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