New Homeland Security TV Show Draws Questions
A new reality television show premiering soon focuses on the agencies and employees of the Department of Homeland Security. Its plan to draw fans among bureaucrats and department observers may also include backfire in drawing criticism from those who wonder if a primetime television show is the best use of the agency’s time.
“Homeland Security USA,” debuts Jan. 6 and will profile various parts of DHS, including Customs and Border Protection.
The show’s producer, Arnold Shapiro recently told the Hollywood Reporter, “I love investigative journalism, but that’s not what we’re doing. This show is heartening. It makes you feel good about these people who are doing their best to protect us.”
So while the show will highlight the main missions of the department’s 218,000 employees, it likely will not focus on less flattering incidents, like the DHS official arrested for hiring illegal immigrants, the department’s challenges with government contracting, or the inability of airport screeners to unionize.
The department’s office of public affairs was approached by ABC about the project, according to DHS spokeswoman Laura Keehner. “We worked with this outlet as we work with many others,” Keehner told the Washington Post.
According to Keehner, the show will mostly feature the work of Customs and Border Protection, with some focus on the Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. All of the agencies have cooperated fully with the show’s producers.
The Washington Post reports that the first episode, called “This Is Your Car on Drugs,” will highlight the work of Borders and Custom Enforcement officers at Los Angeles International Airport, a Blaine, Wash. U.S.-Canada border crossing, a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border near Tucson, Ariz. and another border crossing at San Ysidro, Calif.
“Public officials need to find ways of communicating, educating and engaging the public to take part in their own preparedness and security. This has the possibility of doing that,” said David Heyman, director and senior fellow of the Homeland Security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You obviously don’t want the filming of these activities to affect the decisions of those that are being filmed. In other words, you don’t want them playing to the camera.”