hijacking the media

Afraid of losing its government funding, which accounts for about 15% of its operating budget, PBS is making a move away from the political center and toward the right. To put it in perspective, here’s a clip from a column by Molly Ivins entitled, “Bush political operative says he’ll erase bias at PBS… by inserting bias“:

I have listened patiently to years of right-wing bull about liberal bias in the media, but let us be perfectly clear about what is happening at PBS. Big Bird is not in favor of affirmative action. Bert and Ernie are not gay. Miss Piggy is not a feminist. “The Three Tenors,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Masterpiece Theater,” “Wall Street Week” and nature programs do not have a political agenda. “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” is biased in favor of boring, old, white guys who appear on painfully well-balanced panels. “Washington Week in Review” is a showcase for “Inside the Beltway,” conventional wisdom, power-parroting, political-geekhead, Establishment journalism — there is nothing liberal about it.

But there is a plot to politicize public broadcasting. It is plain as a pikestaff, and it is coming from the Right. It is obvious, undeniable and happening right now. The Bush administration is introducing a political agenda to public broadcasting. They are using the lame pretext that PBS is somehow liberal to justify it into a propaganda organ for the government. That is precisely what the board of CPB was set up to prevent 40 years ago; it is there to be a firewall between public broadcasting and political pressure. Ken Tomlinson (the Bush-appointed chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) is a disgrace to the purpose of that board, he has a political agenda and is engaging in a raw display of ideological bullying. The right-wingers in the House of Representatives are backing his power play with a threat to cut off funding for PBS entirely.

She’s absolutely right. This isn’t about moving PBS to the center, this is about moving PBS to the partisan right where it can reinforce and legitimize the messages being delivered by the likes of FOX News. Make no mistake about it… (note: It’s probably worth noting that most Americans, when polled, claim to see no bias in PBS programming.)

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  1. ChelseaL
    Posted June 17, 2005 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    We need to define “liberal.” Strictly speaking, it means looking toward the future. Liberal thought is almost always in the vanguard. Educated people often hold liberal ideas. Fifty or so years ago, equal education for all races was a liberal concept. So was equal pay for equal work–better known as “feminism.” Want to guess what liberals believed 150 years ago? So when we say “public broadcasting is liberal,” what we’re saying is, public broadcasting presents topics that educated people are talking and thinking about. Is that biased?

  2. Teddy Glass
    Posted June 17, 2005 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Perhaps I wouldn’t find this all that terrifying if not for the context of all the other stories presented here over the course of the last several months. In and of itself it might seem understandable (given the right’s dislike of the politics of Bill Moyers, the multi-culturalism of Sesame Street, etc.), but when you see this happening alongised their efforts to stack the courts, attack non-conservative academics, impose Biblical law and all the rest of it, it paints a picture that is truly terrifying. There is a war taking place right here on the soil of America.

  3. Posted June 17, 2005 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Teddy – and it’s a war of which the majority of its citizens are ignorant.

  4. john galt
    Posted June 17, 2005 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    you know Teddy, from the Magna Carta on.. most western laws were heavily influenced by “Biblical Law”. If it wasn’t for people of faith America would probably never have been founded. In the 1700’s protestants were considered renegades in most of Europe since they threw off the shackles of the papists. I think you are really overblowing the situation. I think that even if they defund Sesame Street.. If there’s a market for it (which I’m sure there is) wouldn’t another network pick it up? The only shows that would go away would be the ones noone cares for.. I’m sure TLC would love to pick up antiques roadshow.. HGTV this old house.. etc.. If Moyers is able to generate viewers he’ll be picked up regardless of content. Of course we could go to a TV tax like they have in Britain (that’s how the BBC is funded).. How do you feel about paying 250.00 per year for a TV.. And the last thought.. Are you a PBS member? If not then just sign up during a pledge drive. I used to be one when they had Dr. Who on PBS. I was giving about 500 a year just for that show.. They got rid of it so I canceled.

  5. mark
    Posted June 17, 2005 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I know it might be asking a bit much, John, but I’d love to see a cancelled check showing that you gave $500 to PBS. I’d settle for $50, or even $5.

    And I meant what I said the other day about being willing to use this site to find you a friend. Really, I think it would be good to get you some human contact, and I’d be willing to invest the resources. If you send a photo and some personal information, I’ll make up an ad and post it on-line. I’m confident that we can find someone in the Atlanta area willing to share a cup of coffee with you or something.

  6. Ken
    Posted June 17, 2005 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Not me. Why can’t his coworker, Mike be his friend.

  7. mark
    Posted June 17, 2005 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    I forgot that you lived in Atlanta, Ken… Would you mind going out and getting coffee with John? It would be for the good of the MM.com community, and I’ll pay.

  8. mark
    Posted June 17, 2005 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    And, Chelsea, you’re absolutely right… Unfortunately, that’s not the way a lot of people see it though.

    The challenge in front of all of us right now is to make that clear to everyone…

    Have you read, “Don’t think of an Elephant”? I think you’d like it.

  9. Doug Skinner
    Posted June 18, 2005 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    A historical note: in the 1700s, both Protestants and papists were all too eager to apply the shackles. Catholics were persecuted in Protestant countries; Protestants were persecuted in Catholic countries. Both persecuted Jews and Muslims. That’s why the US refused to establish a state religion.

    Sure, Biblical law has affected all Western thought. It will continue to do so under a secular government that leaves religious morality to its citizens.

    If I were in Atlanta, I’d be happy to caffeinate Mr. Galt. Anyone who reads markmaynard.com can’t be all bad.

  10. mark
    Posted June 18, 2005 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said on this site, Doug. Thank you.

    (Maybe we can take up a collection to buy you a ticket from New York to Atlanta.)

  11. Doug Skinner
    Posted June 20, 2005 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Mark — That’s very kind of you. First, though, let me set up my new religion, Skinnerology, so you can take it off your taxes.

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