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WTTW Will Air Unedited Version Of Frontline Tonight

By Sam Bakken in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 22, 2005 7:02PM

FRONTLINE Gave Us PermissionChicagoist is a big fan of FRONTLINE. They take an issue, give it a good hour, and we always feel like we've learned something when it's over.

Tonight at 9:00, WTTW (Channel 11) will be airing Frontline's "A Company of Soldiers". The episode documents a period in November when a FRONTLINE team embedded themselves with the 8th Cavalry's Dog Company in South Baghdad. Filming for the episode started three days after the U.S.'s invasion of Fallujah.

Each time we saw a commercial for it before, after or between "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" and "Chicago Tonight" (Bob Sirott is such a shmuck cheeseball), we shivered as a soldier said something like, "My job isn't to die for my country. It's to make the other guy die for his country." Haters please note, we shivered because of the reality of the statement. Not because we're pinkos who hate soldiers. Or when another soldier, choking back tears, relays the message that one of their own had been killed, "Babbitt was a superb soldier, and he was a great friend to all of us, and he died like he should. He went out fighting." We get sick and tired hearing the politicians discuss the war and like to hear from those actually fighting it. While the reality of the war in Iraq may be impossible to ever fully document, FRONTLINE could come close.

A bit of controversy erupted over the program because it contains 13 expletives. FRONTLINE said the words were necessary to "a realistic portrait of our soldiers at war" and "that the language of war should not be sanitized and that there is nothing indecent about its use in this context," but produced an edited version for programming directors wary of the FCC. In order to air the unedited version, local stations had to sign a waiver clearing PBS of any responsibility for FCC fines.

On Monday WTTW told the Tribune they'd decide today which version they will air. We called WTTW and a representative said they would be airing the unedited version. Hooray for WTTW!