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Tuesday on TV: PBS relives horrific 'American Experiemce' of Oklahoma City bombing

Published January 31, 2017 12:27 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The always impressive "American Experience" (7 p.m., PBS/Ch. 7) looks back at the worst case of domestic terrorism in our nation's history — the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

More than two decades later, it's still shattering to recall. And it's still hard for Americans — including those in government and law enforcement — to wrap their heads around.

The documentary makes it clear that bomber Timothy McVeigh was part of the white supremacist movement.

"Oklahoma City was the wake-up moment for American law enforcement," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow of the Southern Poverty Law Center who's interviewed in the two-hour documentary. (He's a former USA Today reporter who covered the siege at Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing and the Timothy McVeigh trial.)

While there were "a few sort of prescient lawmen [and] law women who thought about these things before ... it's worth remembering" that for three days after the bombing "the American people and all the so-called experts out there on national television were saying this is an attack by Muslims. It has all the earmarks of a jihadist attack and so on."

Potok said it's also "worth remembering that throughout the '90s the FBI absolutely refused to classify the murders of abortion providers and their guards and women who worked at clinics as terrorism, which is absolutely clearly was if you look at the FBI's own definition of terrorism."

And under the George W. Bush administration "top officials of the FBI testified to Congress that the greatest domestic terrorism threat facing the United States was from so called eco-terrorists. And while those groups "never killed anyone, not for want of trying" in Oklahoma City "we're looking at a movement that in one fell swoop murdered 168 men women and children, including 19 tiny children."

It's horrifying, but extremely well done and very much worth watching.

Elsewhere on TV

• "NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): The murder of a petty officer prompts NCIS to once again work with "The Sherlocks," a privately funded investigative team that includes Anthony DiNozzo, Sr. (Robert Wagner).

• "The Middle" (7 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Frankie learns her child-bearing years are over; Sean Donahue and Sue's roommate hit it off.

• "New Girl" (7 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Nick freaks out when Reagan lands him a book signing; Winston tells Schmidt and Cece that he's proposing to Aly.

• "The Flash" (7 p.m., CW/Ch. 30): Barry and the team work together to bring down a criminal meta-human who is methodically killing people by causing them to decompose at an accelerated rate.

• "The Haves and Have Nots" (7 p.m., OWN): Veronica confronts Erica.

• "American Housewife" (7:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): The Ottos' house is put up for sale, and Katie is the only one happy about leaving Westport.

• "The Mick" (7:30 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Chip must choose between snitching on his teammates or taking the fall for them.

• "Fresh Off the Boat" (8 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Marvin and Honey take Eddie, Emery and Evan to visit a retirement home.

• "Bones" (8 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): The team investigates when the dismembered body of a successful golfer-turned-lumberjack is found.

• "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" (8 p.m., CW/Ch. 30): The Legends travel to the winter of 1776 to protect George Washington and his army.

• "The Real O'Neals" (8:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Kenny realizes he's been a bad friend to Allison; Eileen and Pat make a discovery about Clive.

• "NCIS: New Orleans" (9 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): After thousands of classified government files are stolen, the NCIS team searches for an underground group of hackers,

• "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (9 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): The team seeks a way to contain an explosive Inhuman.

• "Being Mary Jane" (10 p.m., BET): Mary Jane's pursues the story of a teen boy beaten for wearing a skirt.

• "Switched at Birth" (10 p.m., Freeform): Backlash over Daphne and Mingo's costume choice escalates into a discussion of race relations and free speech.

• "Face Off" (10 p.m., Syfy): The artists create film ready versions of ``Monster High'' characters.

• "Outsiders" (10 p.m. WGN): G'Win is faced with an impossible decision; Lil Foster begins to lose hope.

• "Independent Lens (11 p.m., PBS/Ch. 7): In "Birth of a Movement," D.W. Griffith's 1915 film "The Birth of a Nation'" starts a dialogue about race relations and representation.

• "The Quad" (11 p.m., BET): In the premiere of this college drama, it's the kickoff of spirit week; and the college president's job is in jeopardy.

• "Taboo" (11 p.m., FX): James Delaney is blackmailed into a dangerous mission.

• "Teachers" (11 p.m., TV Land): Ms. Bennigan learns Hot Dad's son has to repeat second grade; Ms. Snap brings her dog to school.

• "Detroiters" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central) • Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson write and star in this comedy about ad men who do commercials for local businesses.

• "Imposters" (11 p.m. Bravo) • In this drama/comedy, three victims of a beautiful con artist (Inbar Lavi) team up to take her down. Keep an eye out for a guest appearance by Uma Thurman.






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