Skip to comments.PBS hit by claims it has liberal agenda
Posted on 06/25/2005 10:35:31 PM PDT by SmithL
WASHINGTON - It's home to Big Bird, Arthur, Bill Moyers and Jim Lehrer - and not normally a source of great controversy. But these days, PBS finds itself at the center of a political uproar over whether public television promotes a liberal agenda.
The man alleging the bias is Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, a Republican who heads the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB provides federal funding to public broadcasters including the Public Broadcasting Service, which receives about 15 percent of its operating budget, or $48.5 million, from the corporation.
PBS has denied the charges of a liberal slant. But following the criticism, it moved this month to hire an ombudsman to review its programs and announced a revision of its editorial practices. Among them: a requirement that commentary and opinion be labeled as such.
Democratic lawmakers worry that Tomlinson is angling to turn public TV into a spokesman for the GOP - contrary to the mission of the corporation, which Congress set up in 1967 to shield public broadcasting from political influence.
As CPB chairman, Tomlinson has failed miserably, says Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., a longtime supporter of public broadcasting.
"What Mr. Tomlinson has been doing is very destructive to the interests of public broadcasting," Dorgan said. "The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be better off with a fresh start with somebody who is not spending their time claiming that the public broadcasting system is unfair."
Adding to the Democrats' unease: the new president of the corporation, Patricia S. Harrison. She was co-chair of the Republican National Committee from 1997 to 2001.
Harrison was named to the post Thursday, the same day that the House voted to rescind proposed cuts of $100 million to the corporation's budget for next year.
PBS says the proposed cuts would have severely impacted "Sesame Street," "Clifford," "Between the Lions" and other popular children's shows.
"That federal funding really acts as a spark plug that causes all of this other money to be attracted," said John F. Wilson, senior vice president of programming at PBS.
Even with Thursday's action, PBS still might end up with less money than in its current budget. The legislation would eliminate $23 million for the Ready-to-Learn program, which subsidizes children's educational programming.
Public broadcasting advocates say $82 million is set to be cut from satellite upgrades and a program to help public TV stations switch to digital technology.
Critics scoff at the notion that public broadcasting can't survive without the federal help.
"These stations are fat and happy. They're sitting on millions, if not billions of dollars, in property and equipment and very large salaries. These people are not going anywhere," said Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group.
Graham says broadcasters could make up the money with alternative sources of revenue. Donations could also make up some of the difference, says Graham.
More than a dozen senators sent a letter to President Bush this week and urged him to fire CPB's Tomlinson because he "seriously undermines the credibility" of public broadcasting.
The chairman said he had no intention of stepping down. The White House also expressed support for him.
Tomlinson has specifically targeted Bill Moyers, complaining that his work is not balanced. After protests from Congress, the corporation's inspector general launched an investigation into Tomlinson's hiring of a consultant to keep track of the political leanings of the guests on "Now with Bill Moyers."
Oooh, more than a dozen senators! I guess that makes it pretty much unanimous, huh?
This claim (FACT) has been around for years! The headline leaves the impression that this is something new
The truth hurts.
I have a really dumb question: why can't Big Bird and Clifford, etc., PAY THE BILLS?
I'm shocked, shocked I tell you...
Defund the left---- PBS and NPR shouldn't receive a dime of taxpayer money...
Let them survive on the listener's dime...
Because, on the open market, they would have to change format or die. They do not have enough viewership to sustain them in the real world of market economics; they can only exist in the fairytale land of socialism.
Actually, I have seen a few conservative programs on PBS...during pledge week! When they need to raise money, then they show what people want to see. The announcer will come on halfway through the show and say, "If you want to see more good programming like this, send in your contributions." Of course, next week they're back to showing the same old garbage.
I wondered that myself. $50 million is chump-change to Elmo and his posse at Socialist Street.
I don't give rat*** about PBS I think they are bia in lib agenda only good thing about PBS is animal shows Masterpiece theatre and Brit comedies
But what about all that MERCHANDISE? Heck, I only have grandchildren and I have a closet full of that stuff!
"Let them survive on the listener's dime..."
They can't. Especially NPR. I do know people who enjoy some of the programming on PBS, but I don't know anyone who listens to NPR. The very few times I tried, all I heard about was gay rights - it didn't matter what the program was supposed to be about, that's what it turned into.
I have to laugh when I see heavy-lidded Marin County types soulfully pleading for dollar$ on KQED, on what seems to be every two weeks.
Dudes: Like, sell your overpriced dachas, fork over the proceeds and chunks of your opulent salaries to the station and go live among "The People". That way, you wouldn't have to shill every other week.
With what they make from toy merchandising, especially? Half the toys in Toys R Us have a PBS character on them.
BTW, LOL @ "Socialist Street"
In related news, scientists are shocked to find that bears use the woods as their private restrooms!
That has been a bone of contention for several years. On the one hand, PBS points to its merchanising as proof of its popularity, and yet has its hand out. However, the kiddie shows are just part of their programming; not many plush toys of the cast of the McNeil-Leherer show. I understand that they have a top-heavy administration that siphons a lot of cash out of the budget - kinda like most government departments.