"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Monday, May 02, 2005
The Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias, prompting some public broadcasting leaders - including the chief executive of PBS - to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence.
Without the knowledge of his board, the chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, contracted last year with an outside consultant to keep track of the guests' political leanings on one program, "Now With Bill Moyers."
In late March, on the recommendation of administration officials, Mr. Tomlinson hired the director of the White House Office of Global Communications as a senior staff member, corporation officials said. While she was still on the White House staff, she helped draft guidelines governing the work of two ombudsmen whom the corporation recently appointed to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts.
Mr. Tomlinson also encouraged corporation and public broadcasting officials to broadcast "The Journal Editorial Report," whose host, Paul Gigot, is editor of the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. And while a search firm has been retained to find a successor for Kathleen A. Cox, the corporation's president and chief executive, whose contract was not renewed last month, Mr. Tomlinson has made clear to the board that his choice is Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee who is now an assistant secretary of state.
I have long been intrigued by the perception that PBS was a "liberal" shop. The wonderful (and, yes, unabashedly liberal) Bill Moyers aside, I could never understand how the network of Wall Street Week, The McLaughlin Group, NewsHour, and The Capitol Gang came to be considered "liberal." Of course, it's not the news and public affairs programming that gives the wingnuts fits - it's not even the entertainment options (damn Masterpiece Theatre and its liberal costume dramas!) - it's the children's programming. The ridiculous Postcards From Buster dust-up a couple of months back was only the latest example. Certain so-called conservatives look at Sesame Street and its multiculturalism, or old Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood episodes (he claimed to be an ordained minister, but he never once mentioned the scourge of gay marriage!), and they go positively apoplectic.
But that was then, and this is now. With the new management in place, it is surely only a matter of time until we see some properly godly children's programming. On the schedule for next season:
Curious George and the Partial Birth Abortion
Oswald Liberates Tehran
Cyberchase (Now With PATRIOT Act Wiretapping Authority!)
Maya and Miguel Meet the Border Vigilantes
God, I wish I was kidding....