Monday, May 02, 2005

Fairer and Balanceder....The New PBS

The New York Times reports about the man behind the curtain at the new and improved Public Broadcasting Service, one Mr. Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Mr. Tomlinson wants to make the PBS fairer and more balanced. I agree with him. It would be nice to have the same number of liberal and lefty interviewees as those from the wingnut side. But this is not where Mr. Tomlinson sees problems. Rather, he thinks the PBS is a vile left-wing plot, the beating heart of the so-called liberal media, the oppressor of all things right and wingnutty, and he wants to stop this horrible state of affairs.

Which he can handily do. He is in power. So what does Mr. Tomlinson plan? Here is a hint:

Without the knowledge of his board, the chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, contracted last year with an outside consultant to keep track of the guests' political leanings on one program, "Now With Bill Moyers."

In late March, on the recommendation of administration officials, Mr. Tomlinson hired the director of the White House Office of Global Communications as a senior staff member, corporation officials said. While she was still on the White House staff, she helped draft guidelines governing the work of two ombudsmen whom the corporation recently appointed to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts.

Mr. Tomlinson also encouraged corporation and public broadcasting officials to broadcast "The Journal Editorial Report," whose host, Paul Gigot, is editor of the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. And while a search firm has been retained to find a successor for Kathleen A. Cox, the corporation's president and chief executive, whose contract was not renewed last month, Mr. Tomlinson has made clear to the board that his choice is Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee who is now an assistant secretary of state.

The article I quote from is full of references to people who no longer work for the PBS. I think that Mr. Tomlinson is doing some spring cleaning... You might be interested in learning that the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has only three non-Republican members out of a total nine. Why is this seen as fairly balanced?

But of course it is. Mr. Tomlinson's idea of balance is to get rid of voices like Bill Moyers' and to make sure that no anti-government investigative journalism will be performed in the future. And this clarifies his views even further:

Last November, members of the Association of Public Television Stations met in Baltimore along with officials from the corporation and PBS. Mr. Tomlinson told them they should make sure their programming better reflected the Republican mandate.

It's funeral time for PBS. Every program will now be toothcombed for liberal nits, except for the wholly wingnut programs which will be assumed to be fair and balanced by their very nature. Tomlinson will pay for secret studies to see if Sesame Street advocates homosexuality or contains too little praying and so on. And people like bow-tie Tucker Carlson and the Wall Street capitalists will roam around freely.

The New York Times article doesn't say this, of course. It is oh-so-polite and advocates a wait-and-see attitude in the hope that the wingnuts will be friendly and fair and balanced. But we all know what will really happen. The Fox news are not enough for the wingnuts, Scarborough Country does not suffice. No, what is needed is a totally wingnut media without a single breathing hole left for those of us who actually think.

Of course, the PBS has never been especially left-wing. Only extreme wingnuts think so. But it has covered controversial issues and it has offered more thoughtful coverage than the average corporate-controlled newsmill. I think that all this will now be in the past. Limbaugh will be so pleased.