Fox Television owner Rupert Murdoch has apologized for a line in a comedy show that offended Poles in the United States, Poland and elsewhere.
Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., apologized for the phrase: “Bowling is in your Polish blood, like kielbasa (sausage) and collaborating with the Nazis.” A character on the Back to You show uttered the phrase on the episode that aired November 14 on Fox Television, which is a subsidiary of News Corp.
Murdoch pointed out that the show’s writers deliberately created a character, March McGinley, who is a bigot. He does things and says things in each episode that reflect that bigotry.
Still, Murdoch said, he was sorry if the November 14 line offended Poles.
His apology came in a statement that Fox Television issued and in a phone conversation Murdoch with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. In addition to issuing the apology, Murdoch ordered the line stricken from re-runs of the show.
Sikorski said he noted during the telephone call with Murdoch that the line not only offended Poles but also those who oppose efforts to revise history. Americans unfamiliar with Polish history might believe that many Poles collaborated with the Nazis, he said.
Polish-Americans began organizing a letter-writing campaign a week ago to obtain an apology from Murdoch.
The letter demanded:
1. A public apology to be aired on the Fox News channel and before or immediately after the next Back to You episode.
2. Disclosure of the names and titles of those responsible for this line. The letter said it was ?hard to believe that in the country that fired Don Imus (a radio talk show host) for an inflammatory phrase a few months ago, no one is being held personally responsible for equating a whole nation with Nazi murderers.
3. Airing of an educational program on FOX Television about Poland?s role in World War II. It could be a mini-series, a television movie or a discussion, the letter said. It should include the views of Polish historians and other experts and be aired during prime evening hours. It could use existing materials, including excerpts from ?Warsaw Uprising? and other documentaries, after the letter said.
4. A meeting between the president or executive vice president of Fox and Polish veterans of World War II.
The letter went to say that unless the demands were met, Polish-Americans would consider organizing a worldwide boycott of the products of the show?s sponsors.
The letter added that Fox Television management should look closer at the way Poles are portrayed, or the situations they are put in, in its productions. It noted that the November 21 Back to You episode included a scene in which a policeman used a Taser gun against an actor playing a Polish character, Mr. Crezyzewski.
The letter said the scene conjured up the Taser death of a 40-year-old Polish immigrant at the airport in Vancouver, Canada, recently. The death has caused outrage in the Polish-Canadian community and in Poland because the man was not attacking police officers when he was Tasered. Police are investigating the death to determine whether the officers involved should be prosecuted.
“It is quite distasteful that your writers are trying to make jokes based on a recent human tragedy,” the letter said.