I can't understand why Paul Farhi felt it necessary to take a potshot at "America's Most Wanted" ["Sorry, I'm Busy That Night," Arts, March 16]. In his disdainful discussion of Saturday night network shows, he derided us as a "low-cost, low-rate, low-rent" program, filling the dark void of an underwatched evening of TV.

That happened to be the same week that this "low-rent" program achieved one of the most incredible feats that any program could hope for: Thanks to our viewers, we helped bring a missing girl home to her family. While the rest of the nation's media had given up on the Elizabeth Smart case, we never did. We aired the story again and again, trying to keep it alive, to keep hope alive. And in the end, our viewers brought that beautiful young girl home.

In our 16 seasons (not 13, as Farhi stated), we have caught 747 dangerous fugitives -- including 15 off the FBI's Top 10 list -- bringing closure to hundreds of victims of crime. And dozens of missing children are back safe in their mothers' arms, thanks to our viewers and their desire to make a difference.

While "America's Most Wanted" regularly attracts the highest number of viewers on Saturday night in the 18-to-49-year-old category Farhi focuses on, it's true that our viewership (about 9 million folks every week) is lower than it was when we were on other nights. And I'm sure that if Saturday nights were filled with the programs that now attract higher viewership than we do -- say, another sitcom or "Survivor: New Jersey" -- Farhi would be happier. But as a person who writes about television he should be leading the charge to say that television can do more than just entertain -- not sneering at those who try.

-- John Walsh

The writer is the host of

"America's Most Wanted."