Wednesday, November 16, 2005


These are some excerpts from Tuesday's NewsHour segment titled "the CPB Investigation":

An internal report on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting released Tuesday found that former chairman Kenneth Tomlinson used "political tests" to recruit a new board president and was inappropriately involved in the creation of a program on PBS. Following a background report, a Washington Post reporter provides an update.

JEFFREY BROWN: The release today of a report by the agency's inspector general comes amid a tumultuous year at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB is a nonprofit private organization established by Congress in 1967. It helps fund PBS and National Public Radio as well as individual programs, including the NewsHour.

Today's report examined actions by Kenneth Tomlinson, who served as CPB chairman until September. Tomlinson had remained on the CPB board, but resigned earlier this month after objecting to the preliminary findings of the inspector general's report.

As chairman, he'd been vocal in alleging liberal bias in public broadcasting and helped bring a new conservative-oriented program, the Journal Editorial Report, to PBS. Today's report criticized part of his involvement in that process.

OK, so let me get this straight: An open conservative, who is critical of liberal bias at PBS, becomes head of the CPB. His efforts to correct that bias are then scrutinized publicly to an unprecedented degree. I have to play "joe six-pack" here, and say that I never understood the function or utility of the CPB before the controversy over Mr. Tomlinson's appointment, much less knew it's inner workings. It was just another sponsor, along with "viewers like you".

I've posted repeatedly about the liberal bias at PBS, and was happy to see it addressed by the CPB under Mr. Tomlinson. However, this report makes it sound as if Tomlinson was getting marching orders from the White House (of course) to air conservative programming on PBS. It would have been helpful if the NewsHour had a reporter from the Washington Times, or perhaps the WSJ itself, as well. One Washington Post reporter as an interview subject just doesn't cut it in a story about media bias, public or not.

The NewsHour makes a big point that this was about process; that Mr. Tomlinson went about things the wrong way. The fact is that CPB has obviously had influence over PBS programming for much longer than Mr. Tomlinson was at the helm, but nothing like this has ever been looked into before in the MSM or on PBS, with few exceptions (Bill Moyers did say he was being "persecuted" around the time he quit his NOW program). This basically smacks of political payback for Moyers, and Tomlinson was the unfortunate target.

This story actually "peaked" back in the Spring, after Moyers quit NOW, saying "It's been in the news this week, including reports of more attacks on a single journalist -- yours truly -- by the right-wing media and their allies at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.", as I mention here. The liberals' goal was achieved when Mr. Tomlinon resigned, to minimum media fanfare, and this current "CPB Report" story wasn't on any other news outlets I watched last night. This is a huge culture-war story, and it is important to watch how PBS and the NewsHour handle it. So far, they're failing miserably. Or succeeding, depending on one's point of view.

I have an obligation to admit I am a fan of PBS, even if they tick me off alot. They occasionally startle me with great programs, though not often enough. Ken Tomlinson's CPB had a good impact on PBS, and hopefully his missteps can serve as a strategy to open government. If Pres. Bush can get more conservatives put into some of these screwed-up bureaucracies, perhaps more liberals will drop dimes on (-expose) the underlying corrupt power structures they (liberals) have developed over the decades (Think Joe Wilson outing a CIA plot against the President's Iraq policy). Could this be why the Administration has embraced the Dept. of Education, as well as putting committed reformers in at State and the CIA? One can only hope they won't be sacrificial lambs to the liberal bureaucrats, as Mr. Tomlinson was. The battle is joined, and I fight for PBS to represent a broader spectrum of views, as well as a broader reform of other liberal-infested bureaucracies.

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