PBS Ombud: 'Big Mistake' To Cut Fey's Palin Jokes From Special

11/18/2010 03:35 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

PBS ombusdman Michael Getler criticized the producers who cut Tina Fey's jokes about Sarah Palin out of a recent PBS special.

"I think the producers made a big mistake, one that was virtually certain to come back and bite them and PBS," Getler wrote in his latest column, published on Thursday.

PBS broadcast a ceremony held for Fey by the Kennedy Center, where she was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for Humor. But a section of her monologue about Palin and other conservative women was excised from the version of the broadcast that aired on television. The producers said they had cut the material due to time constraints, and it was included in the online version of the video.

Getler spoke to the producers, who told him that it had not been PBS' idea to cut the material. One producer, Peter Kaminsky, said that "we had no problem with anything she [Fey] said. It was a humor judgment call forced by time."

But Getler said that the producers had made the wrong call:

You would have to have a tin ear, in my non-producer opinion, not to recognize that Fey's extraordinary ability to mimic Palin on Saturday Night Live two years ago -- aside from her many other accomplishments -- surely was an important factor in this award, and to take out those 30 seconds or so seemed to diminish Fey's uniqueness, take the viewing audience for granted and deprive it of one of the most edgy segments, and certainly at least appear to be influenced by political considerations.

Getler also wrote that audiences should have been alerted to the fact that the program they were watching had been cut for time.

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