Saturday, August 07, 2004

Goodbye PBS

It's sad to go to funerals, and we have one right now in the airwaves, that of the Public Broadcasting System. It's being buried, perhaps prematurely, as a consequence of the clever politics of the wingnuts.

Their warplan goes like this: Accuse the PBS of being leftwing, nay, communist. Demand fairness and balance. Install the most annoying wingnut commentators as your share of the fairness and balance. Then sit back and watch when donations dry out. Privatize PBS. Voila!

If this doesn't work out, at least we can expect the Big Bird to start talking about god-given sex roles and the ten commandments. So either way the wingnuts win. Never mind that the PBS is not leftwing to begin with. As FAIR has reported, the PBS has been leaning right for quite some time. To argue otherwise requires one to view weather forecasts as essentially communist because they don't differentiate between areas or give better weather to the Christians.

Here's the newest development in the wingnut plan:

Having lost their spot on CNBC in early 2003, the Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial-page chieftains have found a new home for their public affairs roundtable on PBS.
The 30-minute program, "Journal Editorial Report," will be part of the pubcaster's Friday night lineup, airing at 10:30 beginning Sept. 17.
Veteran TV newsman Paul Friedman, formerly of ABC News' "World News Tonight," is exec producer.
Panel discussion will be hosted by WSJ editorial page topper Paul Gigot, formerly a correspondent on PBS' "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." Gigot is known for his right-leaning views but is not strident in his style.
In recent weeks, PBS has come under criticism for turning to the right in its programming, starting with its decision to give conservative CNN commentator Tucker Carlson a new show.
PBS prexy-CEO Pat Mitchell countered that the desire is to have a balanced slate. She said "Report," produced by WSJ parent company Dow Jones in association with WNET in Gotham, helps achieve that goal.
"Our mission is to be a marketplace of ideas, an op-ed page for the information age, reflecting a broad range of perspectives and points of view. We expect this series to add yet another dimension to our current public affairs lineup," Mitchell said.

Very good. The PBS has one lefty program, Bill Moyer's NOW. This is going to be cut from one hour to half an hour a week. Tucker Carlson and his bowtie blabbery has been added and now another wingnut program will be introduced. Of course we need a lot more wingnut shows to balance the weather forecasts and the Antiques Roadshow and all those reruns of old BBC programs.

More seriously, almost all the airwaves are funded by corporations and the views that this supports are not neutral. To demand the same of the publicly funded media will mean that we will get nothing but corporate views. This is not a 'marketplace of ideas', except in the most cynical interpretation of the term.