Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Speaking of PBS...

"The CPB board announced it would establish a series of new guidelines to provide more accountability. " And all it took was a right-wing ideologue handing out airtime to his neocon cronies. Funny, I thought it was the conservatives who put such a premium on accountability.

Report Finds Tomlinson Broke Law Involving PBS
By AMY SCHATZ Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 16, 2005; Page A6

WASHINGTON -- The former head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting violated federal law and internal ethical guidelines by improperly interfering with programming to include more shows featuring conservatives and by using "political tests" in hiring decisions, according to CPB's inspector general.

The review said former CPB Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson threatened to withhold funds from the Public Broadcasting Service unless it provided more balanced programming by running more shows that featured conservatives. Investigators in the inspector general's office also said they had found evidence suggesting Mr. Tomlinson "violated his fiduciary responsibilities" in programming decisions, singling out his activities leading to the creation of "The Journal Editorial Report," a current-events program featuring members of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Tomlinson resigned this month after the CPB board received a closed-door briefing on the report, which was released yesterday.... In a written response to the report, Mr. Tomlinson said he was "disappointed, but not surprised" by the report, and said all his actions were open, lawful and only taken after consultation with CPB's general counsel and board. He said any suggestion that he had violated his fiduciary duties or federal law "is malicious and irresponsible."

[Actually, Ken, a 67-page report from the Inspector General is more than just a "suggestion." You're busted, you're out, quit whining.]

Congress created CPB in 1967 to dole out federal money to local, noncommercial television and radio stations. CPB, which distributes federal funds to PBS to develop TV programming, was meant to be nonpartisan, protecting public broadcasting from political influences. Mr. Tomlinson broke those rules, CPB investigators concluded, by introducing politics to both hiring and programming decisions.

[hear that, Ken? "CONCLUDED." Not "suggested."]

In the review, investigators pointed to Mr. Tomlinson's encouragement of PBS to create "The Journal Editorial Report" in 2002, which was designed to provide some counterbalance to PBS's then-Friday-night lineup, which was anchored by "NOW with Bill Moyers," a news program some viewers considered liberal-leaning.

Mr. Tomlinson pressed PBS to add the show, investigators said, even though he "had been dealing directly" with Paul Gigot, editor of the Journal's editorial page and a former PBS commentator, and "advised him about strategies for getting his own show." Mr. Tomlinson's suggestions on "The Journal Editorial Report" format, which included longer-form segments featuring remote reporting, led to a $4.1 million price tag for the first season, which was picked up entirely by CPB, the report said. CPB staff questioned the show's high costs, which were out of scale with other shows, the report said.

CPB distributes federal money to fund original radio and TV programming, but it is designed to be separated from all decisions about content. Recipients of funding, such as PBS, make such decisions, and may initiate talks to create programs.

...

Dow Jones said it has decided not to produce a third season of the editorial report and informed PBS of its decision two weeks ago, "entirely independent of the inspector general's report, which we are seeing for the first time today."...the final program will be broadcast the weekend of Dec. 2.

[Bummer, actually - I just caught an episode the other day on WYCC and rather enjoyed it. They went around the table and asked whether the panelists thought a particular news item was "tony" or "tacky", playing off their Weekend Journal column of the same name. Their choice of news items, not to mention their evaluation of where it fit on the tony/tacky scale, has always mystified and entertained me, and I was looking forward to seeing Paul Gigot and Ann Coulter clear it up.]

The CPB board announced it would establish a series of new guidelines to provide more accountability. Ms. Harrison said in a statement that the changes would be "good news for the long-term health and well-being of public broadcasting."

24 Comments:

Blogger mkchicago said...

Key phrase: "was meant to be nonpartisan". When, if ever, has this been true of PBS?

9:39 AM  
Blogger George W. Bush said...

Didn't you know, 9/11 changed everything.

9:56 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Mr.Tomlinson may very well have broken the law in trying to "right" this leftward-leaning ship. I really have no opinion on his methods. However, he is a symptom. Bias on PBS (never mind NPR) is the disease. Peggy Noonan had a terrific article on the TV funhouse of the Democratic Party this summer. I highly recomend a full reading. Do you find anything innacurate about this:

"The argument, once again, is about whether PBS has a liberal bias. There are charges and countercharges, studies, specific instances cited of subtle partiality here and obvious side-taking there. But arguing over whether PBS is and has long been politically liberal is like arguing over whether the ocean is and has long been wet. Of course it is, and everyone knows it.

Not just Republicans, but Democrats. I doubt you could find a Democratic senator who, forced to announce the truth, standing at the gates of heaven and being questioned by St Peter, would not, on being asked, "By the way, is PBS liberal?" answer, "Of course." Or, "Yes, but don't tell Tom Delay I knew."

10:36 AM  
Blogger George W. Bush said...

I'd like a historical or contemporary example of PBS's liberal bias.

10:48 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Ever seen NOW with Bill Moyers?

11:18 AM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

Have you ever watched any documentary on Frontline or Independent Lens?

11:39 AM  
Blogger George W. Bush said...

Gentlemen, I want specifics.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

I agree with the herbman. I realize mkchicago probably salivates every time he sees Peggy Noonan's WSJ woodcut, in giddy anticipation of another withering criticism of America's gutless liberals; but in this case she offers no evidence of her claim of PBS's strident liberal bias, aside from her hilarious hypothetical about St. Peter at the pearly gates. (Insert guffaw here)

I would recommend a full re-reading of Noonan's piece to mk, since he apparently missed some salient points and created some that do not exist. She brings up a few programs that are decidedly non-partisan - NOVA, Masterpiece Theatre, and The Civil War miniseries - as evidence that PBS should indeed continue to exist, since no big network exec would dare touch these. Aside from her hints that Bill Moyers' show is somehow a left-wing propaganda mill, she offers no evidence. None. (I do not understand this claim about Moyers, who has had a long career as an even-handed public intellectual, and not some rabid socialist). She claims "Nobody needs their investigative unit pieces on how Iran-contra was very, very wicked" - yet isn't investigative reporting about the covert operations of our government sort of the JOB of the fourth estate? Sexy as her woodcut is, Peggy has a lot of chutzpah telling me what I do and do not "need."

When Peggy says, "How about a rule: It takes at least 50 years for a currently esteemed work to prove itself a work of art, a true classic", that's when I know her farting would transmit more meaning to me than this piece of drivel, and that she should go back to doing what she's best at: writing fawning pieces about Reagan.

She doesn't even take on the easiest target: The absolutely worthless Tavis Smiley show, where he brings on celebrities and tries to badger them into badmouthing Bush. This I guess is "liberal bias," but woe to anyone who bothers watching that crap.

I recommend checking out PBS programming for a week or so, specifically Jim Lehrer. See if you end up inculcated with radical communist notions, or just come out better informed.

11:51 AM  
Blogger George W. Bush said...

Call me crazy, but I have a sneaking suspicion that HurtLeg and MK, in all likelihood, have not seen the programs they are attempting to castigate, just like they have admittedly not read Noam Chomsky but are predictably and obstinately eager to denigrate his work and arguments. How exactly does that work?

12:10 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Ever seen Tony Brown's Journal? Tony is a self-described Republican. But pointing to a show with a Republican host is obviously not proof that his network is conservative. The last Frontline I saw was about North Korea, and they stuck to Clinton good. They also interviewed Perle at length, and he came off a lot smarter and more rational than any of the Clinton defenders.

I agree that the "Everyone knows PBS is liberal" meme has been extremely under-corroborated. Can anyone point to a study done by a reputable organization--that is, not by AIM or FAIR, or another group with a blatant agenda?

12:43 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

That should have said "stuck it *to* Clinton".

12:43 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

"If you still don’t believe Moyers is the poster boy for liberal bias at PBS, take it from Current newspaper, the must-read publication for PBS insiders. They found in November 2004 that a six-month review of Moyers showed that "of the 75 segments over six months that treated controversial issues like the Iraq War, the state of the economy and the corrupting influence of corporate money on politics, only 13 included anyone who spoke against the thrust of the segment." That study didn’t make the New York Times story on "alleged" PBS bias. For Moyers, it is a great night of taxpayer-funded broadcasting when the conservatives get no chance to rebut his personal attacks. "
for starters

and here

and one from your favorite conservative

Iowaherbman - You're crazy. I watched plenty of NOW when it first came on (and yes I'm aware they switched to the David Broncaccio (sp?) solo host format. Also, it is a bit of a red herring to chastise me for having " admittedly not read Noam Chomsky" whan if you had paid attention you would have noted that I have watched his (4hour!) documentary Manufacturing Consent more than once. Thus I am obviously well aquainted with a good number of his unadulterated opinions. That's exactly how that works.

12:53 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Jeff,
I have seen TBJ and I was a semi-regular listener to his Sunday show on WLS-AM. At no time did I ever here him refer to himself as a Republican. I seem to remember he took great pains to steer a middle course and throw bones to both sides. If you could find some sort of a cite I would love to see it. On the whole I have always liked Tony Brown.

1:00 PM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

I have a season pass set on my TIVO for both independent lens and Frontline. I watch them weekly. I find they are informative, but definitely have their bias. I take that into account as I watch the show and judge for myself how meaningful the arguments are.

As for Bill Moyers, I watched for a couple of months when it first aired, but got tired of what seemed like every story being on how evil big business is. I admit that is my perception, I haven't gone back and counted the segments.

1:04 PM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:04 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Germanicu$,
You're really stretching there if you're pointing to NOVA and Masterpiece Theater as examples of non-bias. Anyway, I think you may have missed the salient point of the Noonan piece which was the government has no business being a part of the fourth estate.
And as for guffaw worthy commentary:
"Moyers, who has had a long career as an even-handed public intellectual"

1:05 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"For Moyers, it is a great night of taxpayer-funded broadcasting when the conservatives get no chance to rebut his personal attacks."

Well, the three links you posted were to Human Events, the MRC, and a furiously right-wing something-or-other called Oregonmag, or some such. As I said, any studies from respectable media research organizations that don't have a stridently obvious axe to grind?

As for Moyers being a liberal, of course he is, and of course his reflected that. Just like Firing Line used to reflect WFB's conservatism.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

MK

"Brown soon began preaching a message of self-help. In 1990, he announced he was switching to the Republican Party."

http://www.maynardije.org/columns/dickprince/040720_prince/printable/

This is a pretty widely known fact, I think.

2:31 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Do you all really think there is any real counterpart to Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley?

I'll trade you the inept buffoons at the McLaughlin Group for Charlie Rose, but there is no kind of conservative response even remotely analogous to Mr Smiley.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"I'll trade you the inept buffoons at the McLaughlin Group for Charlie Rose"

Sorry, pal--you don't get to trade a show with Tony Blankley & Pat Buchanan vs. Eleanor Clift (Agh!) & Sometimes Some Other Liberal for Charlie Rose. Charlie Rose's show isn't even in the same category. He may be liberal, but I challenge you to find some reasonable evidence of persistent liberal bias in his show.

As for a sparring partner for Tavis Smiley (double Agh!), what about Tucker Carlson? He's not on anymore, but neither is Bill Moyers, nor WFB. What happened to "Unfiltered" anyway?

4:27 PM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

If I remember correctly, Unfiltered was Tucker Carlson's show. He has a gig on MSNBC that he left PBS for. He is on live at 10 pm (central) every night.

7:16 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Hmmm, Jeff. How can we test "persistent liberal bias?"

Let's watch Charlie and Tavis and count the number of times the phrase "far right" is used verses "far left." How's that for a test of bias?

7:55 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Let's watch Charlie and Tavis and count the number of times the phrase "far right" is used verses "far left." How's that for a test of bias?"

That methodology seems slightly flawed, since I have to believe that if the far left were in power in the US, we'd probably hear that name nearly as often as we hear "far right" today.

10:34 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

OK, then, define for me "far right" and then define for me "just conservative, but not far right," so we can evaluate that claim.

6:35 AM  

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