Tuesday, May 03, 2005

how to republicanize public broadcasting

republicans like to say that public broadcasting has a liberal bias. well... they say that about the media in general (which is demonstrably false), but they claim that pbs and npr are extra liberal. this isn't really true either (unless you define "liberal" as "educated art-lovers"), as there is just as much republican hackery in public broadcasting as there is liberalism (as the "buster" incident and others prove).

if the republicans had their way, they'd turn pbs into fox news II. the gop chairman of the corporation for public broadcasting is leading a crusade against what he calls "bias" in public broadcasting. and he wants to start his crusade by appointing a former chair of the republican national committee as cpb's new ceo and president.

...because the best way to eliminate bias in reporting is to put a former head of a political party in charge.

this nytimes article is crazy. just about everything tomlinson (the aforementioned republican cpb chair) says is directly contradicted by something else in the article. so let's go on an adventure in doublethink.

for example, this:

Mr. Tomlinson said that he was striving for balance and had no desire to impose a political point of view on programming, explaining that his efforts are intended to help public broadcasting distinguish itself in a 500-channel universe and gain financial and political support.

"My goal here is to see programming that satisfies a broad constituency," he said, adding, "I'm not after removing shows or tampering internally with shows."

directly contradicts this:

In December 2003, three months after he was elected chairman, Mr. Tomlinson sent Ms. Mitchell of PBS a letter outlining his concerns. " 'Now With Bill Moyers' does not contain anything approaching the balance the law requires for public broadcasting," he wrote.

this guy tampered with now as much as possible, even undertaking secret audits of the program's content.

and this paragraph seems to contradict itself:

Mr. Tomlinson said that it was his concerns about "objectivity and balance" that led to the creation of a new office of the ombudsman at the corporation to issue reports about public television and radio broadcasts. But the role of a White House official in setting up the office has raised questions among some public broadcasting executives about its independence. In March, after she had been hired by the corporation but was still at the White House as director of the Office of Global Communications, Mary Catherine Andrews helped draft the office's guiding principles, set up a Web page and prepare a news release about the appointment of the new ombudsmen, officials said.

how can a media outlet pretend to be "objective" while high-ranking white house officials working hand-in-hand with management, even being on both payrolls at the same time? that doesn't pass the laugh test, nor the armstrong williams test. it doesn't even pass the falling-over-as-my-brain-collapses-from-all-the-cognitive-dissonance test.

the end of the article really says it all:

Mr. Tomlinson said he understood the need to reassure liberals that the traditions of public broadcasting, including public affairs programs, were not changing, "that we're not trying to put a wet blanket on this type of programming."

But his efforts to sow goodwill have shown that what he says he tries to project is sometimes read in a different way. Last November, members of the Association of Public Television Stations met in Baltimore along with officials from the corporation and PBS. Mr. Tomlinson told them they should make sure their programming better reflected the Republican mandate.

Mr. Tomlinson said that his comment was in jest and that he couldn't imagine how remarks at "a fun occasion" were taken the wrong way. Others, though, were not amused.

"I was in that room," said Ms. Mitchell. "I was surprised by the comment. I thought it was inappropriate."

ah, the ann coulter defense. i was just kidding when i said i wanted terrorists to kill all the journalists! i don't really think we should become a bush administration mouthpiece! it's just a coincidence that i want to appoint a republican political operative as ceo!

there's a lot more. read the full article. (registration required: bugmenot is your friend)

and if that wasn't bad enough, now read all the stuff that the times left out:

In a May 2 article on efforts by Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), "to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias" at CPB, New York Times reporters Stephen Labaton, Lorne Manley, and Elizabeth Jensen noted that CPB recently appointed two ombudsmen "to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts." But the article failed to note that one of the ombudsmen, William Schulz, is an avowed conservative with close ties to Tomlinson, while the other, Ken Bode, is a former journalist and a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute who last year endorsed Indiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels. In addition, the Times story made no mention that CPB's new chief operating officer and acting president is a former Bush administration official.

so both the ombudsmen--whose job is to be neutral and impartial--are hardline conservatives? that will surely fix any "bias" problems! and the "new chief operating officer" mentioned here is not the former rnc chair that tomlinson wants to appoint, but the current interim prez, who "played a significant role in the failed effort to loosen rules to make it easier for media companies to expand into new businesses and geographic areas."

more juicy details if you follow the link... and mediamatters continues pointing out flaws in the times article here, where they highlight all the prominent conservatives who have shows on pbs.