Balian (Hrair)  19-Feb-89 11:44AM-PST


Date:     02/19/89
Ref.:     NP0219

From:     Hrair Balian
I understand Ren has already transmitted to you a note regarding
the US national Public Broadcasting TV MacMeil/Lehrer News Hour
report on the failed relief effort in Armenia.  Unfortunately,
the report was not balanced at all.  What is more unfortunate is
the fact that this program is a highly respected one and its
credibility usually not questioned.

We all know there are some serious shortcomings in the relief
effort in Armenia, we all know some of the relief goods are being
sold on the streets of Yerevan (incidentally, even TASS had a
story about some of the relief goods being stolen in other parts
of the USSR), we all know that some areas have not received
relief goods, we all know that some of the sorely needed goods
are still stored in warehouses instead of being distributed, we
all know there are shortages of medical supplies and equipment,
but is that all there is?

Have any relief goods been distributed to the stricken area?  The
report seems to answer no!  Are all the goods sent from abroad
outdated or useless?  Are all donors from abroad "using the
earthquake to dump what they couldn't use back home"?  Is there
total chaos in Armenia in terms of the relief effort and
reconstruction?  The report suggests that "people are existing on
bread, gelatin, and whatever else they had been storing before
the quake."  Is this true?  Have people in the stricken area
received any food supplies from the government or any other
relief source?  The report accuses the government of "cutting off
electricity every night making life much more difficult
psychologically."  Could there be a reason for this action?  The
report suggests not.  The report accuses central planning or lack
of central planning of not labeling drugs in Russian or Armenian,
thus making distribution of medication difficult.  But, is that a
shortcoming of central planning, foreign relief agencies where
the medication came from, or doctors' who dispense the drugs?

As you can see, the report raises more questions than provides
answers.  The report seems totally biased, one sided and not
balanced at all.  The report leads many to accuse the reporter of
grand standing than genuine reporting.  It may be that the
original version produced by Ted Boghossian and Gerard Libaridian
was more balanced and editing by others reduced it to an
unbalanced report.  Incidentally, I will send a copy of this note
to Gerard, who is a long time friend, for his comments.

In any event, the report has done much damage to our credibility.
Already, I have received telephone calls from major donors and
sympathizers of the relief effort questioning the advisability of
further relief effort.  This at a time when we have approached
major donors for substantial contributions - a Personal Computer
company executives are one example whom we have approached to
donate some 15 systems for the network worth in excess of
$75,000.  Other examples include national fund raising efforts
such as telethons, etc.

Please transmit a copy of this note to Lynn Joiner as soon as
possible while she is still in Yerevan (I think until 2/22/89).
Lynn may be interested in the story.  In fact, if she could do a
story, her national network may very well be interested as well.
Knowing Lynn's work, her story is bound to be much more balanced
and credible than the one on MacMeil/Lehrer.

I retransmit Ren's transcribed version of the report for Lynn's
benefit with some minor corrections from my part.

With best regards.  Hrair