Apr 022010
 
 April 2, 2010  Add comments

Ted Bogosian is one of those uncommon journalists and filmmakers for whom the stark truth of the matter is all that counts. Truth at the far pole from truthiness. Emotional truth. Historical truth. Negotiable truth, which is to say: politically useful truth. Truth so awful sometimes that most of us — whether victims, perps or bystanders — would just as soon turn away.

In James Der Derian’s “Global Media” class at Brown, Ted Bogosian is speaking about the PBS documentary that made him famous in 1988: An Armenian Journey was the first, and almost the last, network television treatment in America of the Turkish slaughter of Armenians in 1915. We’re talking as well about the suddenly hot pursuit of pedophile priests in the Catholic church. Also about Errol Morris’s “feel-bad masterpiece,” the almost unwatched S.O.P., a film search through interviews and reenactments for the truth of Abu Ghraib. And about Kathryn Bigelow’s best-picture Oscar winner The Hurt Locker, yet another box-office bomb about the American war in Iraq.

Listen in on the conversation here:

TB: Being Armenian requires a different standard of truth telling. What’s in your DNA is this business of overcoming denial… The first thing in my life I remember is standing in my backyard in New Jersey, watching my grandmother, who was a survivor of the genocide, making a pile of rocks and telling me, in her broken English, that “nothing mattered.” And for her to be saying that to a 3-year-old boy, based on what she had witnessed, started my journey toward making that film 30 years later, which was about all the apocryphal stories and all the real stories I had heard growing up. I had to decide for myself which ones were true. And when I did, I had to figure out a way to relate those truths to the world. So I think it’s different for Armenians and for other ethnic groups trying to overcome similar denials.CL: In other words, truth hounds don’t just happen.

TB: There has to be a powerful momentum, an irresistible force, pushing you in that direction. Otherwise it’s too easy to take the path of least resistance.

Ted Bogosian’s story of his own motivation could be construed as ethnic determinism or something stranger: a rationale for ethnic revenge by journalism. But I think we’re scratching at a subtler puzzle that popped up as a surprise here: what are the journalistic motives that seem to be bred in the bone, or in the family histories that drive a lifetime of the most urgent professional curiosity?

ORIGINAL COMMENTS:

Artur77 01:06 PM on 5/01/2010
Still we wait to hear from Mr. Ted Bogosian.

Will he ever appear and defend his claims – like a real Truth Hound would do – or will he continue to hide and attempt to ride this storm which he has created?
Your silence speaks volumes, sir.

We’re not going away, Mr. Bogosian …

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Ara Manoogian 09:01 PM on 5/07/2010
For those who would like to help to get Ted Bogosian come clean and set the record straight, please sign an online petition addressed to Mr. Bogosian which can be found at:

http://www.gopetition.com/online/35986.html

Artur77 08:45 PM on 4/23/2010
“Being Armenian requires a different standard of truth telling.”
Take note –
** These are Ted Bogosian’s own words **

Are you kidding me?!

For someone such as … Ted Bogosian, who has stood up on his soap box and screamed to many media outlets that Monte Melkonian started a “terrorist organization” (just ONE of the many false comments that Ted has made regarding, the late, Monte Melkonian) but yet refuses to provide any proof of his claims, has the audacity to say “Being Armenian requires a different standard of truth telling.” Please excuse me while I go vomit now!

Yeah, “different standards” as in UN- truths,Ted??

Its very simple, Ted … either provide the evidence and clear your name or admit that you lied. That’s it, buddy! No room for debate or discussion! Your choice, Ted – and THAT is more than YOU gave to the late Monte Melkonian …

The choice is yours – come clean and admit that you made false statements or say goodbye to your credibility.

Your *reputation* is riding on your choice, Teddy.

Moushegh 01:23 PM on 4/23/2010
I see that “someone” by the name of ‘Bogosian’ [a *fan* of Ted Bogosian] has attempted to set the record straight and finally speak the TRUTH about the honorable Armenian freedom fighter and national hero, Monte Melkonian.

Why have we not heard from the real Ted Bogosian?

I am outraged and disgusted that Mr. Ted Bogosian, a so-called “truth hound” would be so unprofessional and so careless as to publicly make statements as “truths” without having done proper research and being able to provide ANY evidence to back-up his claims.

Mr. Bogosian is not worthy of being labeled a “truth hound.” Until he – the real Ted Bogosian – makes a public statement about all the ‘inconsistent’ statements defaming Monte Melkonian, then the label that is most fitting Mr. Te Bogosian is simply … A FRAUD!

Bogosian 06:12 PM on 4/22/2010
CORRECTIONS & AMPLIFICATIONS: While I still consider Monte Melkonian and myself to be the “same age” (as I told Chris Lydon in this podcast), Monte was, in fact, 6 years younger. Monte was an undergraduate at UC-Berkeley, not a graduate student there. I could have identified the terrorist movement he started: ASALA-Revolutionary Movement. Finally, while Monte was convicted of illegal weapons possession, he was not charged with selling arms or illegal drugs. (I knew him to practice healthful living habits during his imprisonment.) I stand corrected and regret these errors.

Bogosian 11:40 AM on 4/21/2010
I am pleased that my conversation with Christopher Lydon has inspired such informed comments. The FARA database is in desperate need of reform. There is not enough transparency or timeliness now, as JustineH, FirstTimeVoter and others indicate. Finally, I pledge to correct any inadvertent errors and omissions I may have made at Brown, as always. That is a Truth Hound’s obligation. Thanks to everyone for listening.

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Ara Manoogian 04:19 AM on 4/18/2010
Ted Bogosian And His Untruths About Monte Melkonian

By Ara Manoogian
www.hetq.am
April 17, 2010

17 years following his martyrdom in Artsakh, Armenian national hero Monte Melkonian is once again a victim of defamation. I came across a very interesting interview on Radio Open Source with an Armenian decorated filmmaker and documentarian Ted Bogosian. The subject of the interview was Ted’s vocation – seeking the truth and telling it. Open Source host Christopher Lydon introduced Ted Bogosian as a truth hound and put the ‘what is truth’ question to him. What I heard in response less than halfway through the interview led me to think that Ted may have misheard Christopher, thinking he had been asked ‘what is a lie’ or, for that matter, how to present a lie as truth.

For full story see: http://hetq.am/en/society/monte-14/

dukegirl 10:21 AM on 4/13/2010
I agree with FirstTimeVoter, who said that “Seeking the truth should not be the responsibility of journalists alone.” The general public needs the same access to information that is afforded to the government and media personnel. As another first time voter I want to be able to make informed decisions when choosing a candidate to support, and without access to candidates’ backgrounds and history of their political activity, it is difficult to make a completely informed decision. In particular, access to candidates’ lobbying history needs to be readily available. Currently, some of this information is compiled in an online database run by the Department of Justice fara.govv). However, the website is extremely inefficient and in desperate need of revamping. The information is 6 months to 1 year behind, PDF files are often handwritten and unsearchable, and a significant amount of information is simply not provided. If voters are going to be able to make informed decisions they need access to this critical information.

jer31 09:55 AM on 4/13/2010
I am going to be a first time voter this fall and I think Ted raises a very going point about the redesign of the FARA.gov website. I would love to know the politicians’ past and where/what they’ve been lobbying for. It means a lot to me and right now that information is just not easily accessible.

www.fara.gov needs an overhaul!!

justineh3 10:59 PM on 4/12/2010
Ted says that his “battle was against the media to try to tell the story one way.” However, with the goal of creating a movie for TV, he knew that he couldn’t do that. I think that says a lot about the media today, even though we are a nation that values free-speech, many mainstream news channels and websites have rules on what they can and cannot air/show.

People who are willing to tell the truth are “willing to go there no matter where it leads”. I think that is a very interesting statement and is one the government should value. The government controls a lot of truths and they need to figure out and decide what they want to do with that power. I agree with “FirstTimeVoter” in that www.fara.gov is an example of a website that must be redesigned in order to make information about Registered Foreign Agents more accessible to the public. The public should be able to see which lobbyists are contacting which politicians and what kind of money exchanges are occurring. That information can have a big affect on what people think about politicians and what choices they make.

FirstTimeVoter 11:32 AM on 4/12/2010
Seeking the truth should not be the responsibility of journalists alone. The government must help journalists like Bogosian (and the American public in general) expose the truth by providing timely and relevant information on the United States’ interaction with foreign nations such as Turkey and Armenia.
While an obscene amount of money has been spent by foreign lobbyists involved in the Armenian genocide controversy, the business dealings of these foreign agents are almost impossible to track on the elusive FARA.gov website. It is time for the government to step up and create a more user-friendly database so that all concerned voters can easily track the real impact of foreign issues on our country and economy.

Kirstie J 11:34 PM on 4/11/2010
I find a conversation about “Truth,” any truth for that matter, is far too epistemological for only a 20 minute conversation. What can be counted as truth? How do we know what we know. Our facts are all from subjective, imperfect human experience. Any recording of history is biased, as Ted said, “history is written by the winners.” So how does one seek the truth in documentary? Ted says, “every truth leads to another.. we may never arrive at truth but we’re obligated to try.” Just because there is no absolute answer, doesn’t mean that there is no factual relevance to documentaries, history and recordings of genocide.

The question for me remains: Even if the “truth” is exposed what does it matter if nothing is done? Ted states, “I don’t care if my government acknowledges it if there’s nothing they wish to do about it.” We as journalists and documentary film makers can only help so much to expose real life issues. How we go about fixing them is another problem entirely.

mccduke 11:12 PM on 4/07/2010
There were a lot of interesting points made in this conversation. I have to say I agree with the statement that with the electronic age, media culture, and the Internet dominating our lives, there’s more truth, and there’s less truth, and that this also applies to documentaries and other films. While the Internet is a great source of fast information, there’s such an easy potential for the truth to become distorted, and for people to believe that this distorted truth reflects the facts.

But at the same time, it’s almost as if, well, to paraphrase A Few Good Men, the general public can’t handle the truth. So something that’s gritty and realistic like The Hurt Locker won’t have that broad appeal and blockbuster potential that escapist fluff like Avatar will have. And that’s what the entertainment industry likes to capitalize on.

progressiveconnie 10:04 AM on 4/05/2010
GOOD MORNING!!! MY FELLOW HOMO SAPIENS WHICH MEANS THE SPECIES WHO IS WISE.
Anyone familar with human history is not surprised by the statistics that reveal that being a journalist/reporter is the most dangerous profession on the planet.
No government whatever their ideology wants journalist nosing around and rooting out the truth and facts about what is really going on in that country.
Our own government has always made a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act by blacking out all information but the date on each page and claiming everything and anything is top secret.
The reason the people are denied the truth is because what is really going on is either illegal or not in the best interest of the people.
In other countries journalists are often killed, kidnapped, jailed, beaten up and tortured and in this country truth tellers are fired or the corrupt corporate mass news media just ignores them and both of these approaches are equallly effective in preventing the people from getting the truth and the truth is the more secretive a government becomes the more corrupt it becomes.

research 10:37 PM on 4/04/2010
Corrupt power must destroy truth….

WayOutEast 04:46 PM on 4/05/2010
There is a true hopefulness in what Bogosian says. As an Armenian, I’d like to move forward without having to jettison the past, and it’s good to know other Armenians feel that way, too. I’d also like to think that, as an individual, I can impact the world around me; that what I say and do isn’t done in a vacuum. His comment “every single link in the chain is important” speaks to that perfectly.