Wednesday, November 16, 2005

report says tomlinson all kinds of guilty

last week ken tomlinson resigned as head of CPB, the corporation that oversees npr and pbs. tomlinson was accused of illegally trying to spread conservatism throughout public broadcasting.

now the konz report is out, and it is not very flattering. from the la times:

The 67-page report — the culmination of a six-month investigation by Kenneth A. Konz, the corporation's inspector general — portrays former Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson as a rogue appointee who often exceeded his authority in his determination to address what he viewed as a liberal tilt in public broadcasting.

Konz's report depicts the corporation as a deeply dysfunctional institution in which there has been little oversight over hiring and contracting and minimal communication between the professional staff and the board, made up of political appointees.

According to the report, Tomlinson consulted with Bush administration officials — including Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove — about his efforts, even though the former chairman told The Times in May that he had had "absolutely no contact from anyone at the White House saying we need to do this or that with public broadcasting."

However, Konz discovered that in late 2003 and again this year, Tomlinson exchanged e-mails with White House officials about possible candidates to serve as the corporation's president. Some of the notes discussed Tomlinson's desire to hire Patricia Harrison, a former Republican Party co-chairwoman, whom the board appointed to the post in June.

"While cryptic in nature, their timing and subject matter give the appearance that the former chairman was strongly motivated by political considerations in filling the president/CEO position," Konz wrote.

Konz concluded that Tomlinson's efforts to hire Harrison violated provisions of the Federal Broadcasting Act, which prohibits the use of "political tests" in employment.

He also determined that the former chairman broke federal law barring interference in programming when he promoted the development of "The Journal Editorial Report," a public affairs program on the Public Broadcasting Service featuring the conservative editorial page board of the Wall Street Journal. The report said Tomlinson urged PBS to air the program even as he offered editorial page editor Paul Gigot advice about the program's format.

The report said Tomlinson was so zealous in what he termed his pursuit of political balance that he instructed corporation staff to threaten to withhold federal funds from PBS to achieve it — an action that would have required congressional approval.

The inspector general documented numerous occasions in which Tomlinson circumvented CPB contracting procedures. According to the report, Tomlinson mishandled a contract with a consultant who monitored the political leanings of the guests on "Now With Bill Moyers" and three other programs by failing to get board approval and authorizing payments without written documentation of work. Konz also found that Tomlinson hired two ombudsmen this spring without considering other candidates. Tomlinson faces another probe related to his other post, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The influential agency oversees the government's international broadcast services. The State Department's inspector general is investigating Tomlinson's actions there.

that "consultant" of course was fred mann.

and now we move on the ny times:

The report said that a White House official, Mary C. Andrews, had worked on a plan by the corporation to create a new office of ombudsmen to promote balance in programming. Ms. Andrews had been hired by the corporation at the time but was still on the White House payroll, the report said.

It said her efforts "appeared to be advisory in nature and she did not provide the ombudsmen with guidelines on how to operate or interfere with their functioning." But it also found that the decision to sign contracts with two ombudsmen "does not appear to comply with established C.P.B. procurement processes."

The report questioned a severance package for the corporation's previous president, Kathleen A. Cox, who was forced to resign abruptly in April after a series of disagreements with Mr. Tomlinson.

According to the report, the package was more than three times her annual compensation, and Mr. Tomlinson structured its payouts over a period of years so that the lump sum would not be disclosed on publicly available tax records.

In a statement attached to the report, Ms. Cox named board members other than Mr. Tomlinson who she said were involved in some decisions criticized by the inspector general. Ms. Cox said she was forced to resign after Mr. Tomlinson told her she was "not political enough" for the job.

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