Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Perverting of PBS

by Kyle Michaelis
A new front has opened up in the Bush Administration's "War on Reality." The Republican Right is doing everything they can to either take-over or destroy public broadcasting. In the new worldview they seek to impose on PBS, guests are judged not for the quality of their arguments but by whether they support President Bush or dare to criticize the corrupt Republican leadership in the House of Representatives. Even token dissent will not be tolerated, with Senator Chuck Hagel being declared a "liberal." Such is the new balance on Bush TV - not left to right, but right to INSANE. The New York Times reports:
Sixteen Democratic senators called on President Bush to remove Kenneth Y. Tomlinson as head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because of their concerns that he is injecting partisan politics into public radio and television....

Also on Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers joined other supporters of public broadcasting, including children and characters from PBS children's programs, to protest House Republicans' proposed cuts in financing for the corporation.

The Democrats' letter follows a series of disclosures about Mr. Tomlinson that are now under investigation by the corporation's inspector general, including his decision to hire a researcher to monitor the political leanings of guests on the public policy program "Now," the use of a White House official to set up an ombudsman's office to scrutinize public radio and television programs for political balance, and payments approved by Mr. Tomlinson to two Republican lobbyists last year....

A new problem emerged for Mr. Tomlinson on Tuesday, when evidence surfaced that he might have provided incorrect information about the hiring of a researcher last year to monitor political leanings of the guests of the "Now" program.

In a letter to Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, on May 24, Mr. Tomlinson said he saw no need to consult with the board about the contract with the researcher, Fred Mann, because it was "approved and signed by then CPB President, Kathleen Cox." But a copy of the contract provided by a person unhappy with Mr. Tomlinson's leadership shows that Mr. Tomlinson signed it on Feb. 3, 2004, five months before Ms. Cox became president....

Mr. Mann, who was paid $14,170 for his work by the taxpayer-financed corporation, rated the guests on the show by such labels as "anti-Bush" or "anti-DeLay," a reference to Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader. He classified Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as a "liberal," even though Mr. Hagel is well-known as a mainstream conservative Republican.

Asked about the apparent discrepancy between the contract he signed and what he wrote to Mr. Dorgan, Mr. Tomlinson declined through a spokesman to comment.

We live in some interesting and scary times. Is it only a matter of time before G. Gordon Liddy has taken over for Gordon on Sesame Street? With the passing of Mr. Rogers, is Janice Rogers Brown going to be taking over his neighborhood?

This is the world we live in. The Bushnik "War on Reality" continues.


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