Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Moyers Fights for the Soul of PBS


Yesterday, Free Press posted the audio and video files of Bill Moyers’ electric speech at the close of the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis. Today we're calling on 100,000 people to sign our petition for the ouster of Kenneth Tomlinson of the Coporation of Public Broadcasting.

So many people went to the Free Press site to hear Bill Moyers' speech that our web server slowed to a crawl. As a result, many couldn’t download the speech. Last night, Moyers people sent me the full transcript:


It's an important speech that cuts to the core of the problems of American media. I was there in the front row and am making it now available to you.

In his speech, Moyers blasted Tomlinson for hijacking public broadcasting to serve a partisan agenda. This staunch Republican has launched a personal crusade aimed at "eliminating the perception of political bias" in PBS programs. Tomlinson has covertly promoted right-wing programming and tried to install his political allies to CPB's board and executive offices. He even contracted an outside consultant to monitor Moyers' weekly PBS news program, "NOW with Bill Moyers," for signs of liberal bias.

"I always knew Nixon would be back," Moyers said. "I just didn’t know this time he would be the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

On several occasons the former anchor of "Now" ripped into Tomlinson for crossing the line "from resisting White House pressure to carrying it out for the White House."

Moyers also exposed several right wing and government attempts to muzzle quality journalism, independent viewpoints and dissenting voices.

"The more compelling our journalism, the angrier the radical right of the Republican Party gets," Moyers said. "That's because the one thing they loathe more than liberals is the truth. And the quickest way to be damned by them as liberal is to tell the truth."

Time To Go
"An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions and be skeptical," Moyers said. "And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too."

Read Moyers' historic speech and then take action to save public broadcasting. Thus far, more than 50,000 Free Press activists joined signed a petition for Tomlinson's resignation. But before we deliver petitions to Tomlinson's desk, we need 50,000 more to join the call.

If you haven't taken action on this already, sign the petition at:


Then tell more people to join the call for Tomlinson's to step down. Forward the URL to all your friends and colleagues and help us protect our public broadcasting from partisan tampering. With your help we can turn the tide against corporate and government efforts to muzzle the dissenting voice of our free press.


Anonymous said...

Tomlinson is deceptively coy and downright dishonest when asked about his intentions and other aspects of the sea change at CPB.

His office has told media that 'he isn't giving interviews' despite appearances by Tomlinson on at least one television program (Tucker Carlson's Unfiltered, an half hour of sheer dreck during which Carlson was amazingly sycophantic and obsequious; transcript available at the program's website).

Tomlinson was asked what happened to his predecessor, who resigned (or was fired) after Secretary of Education Spellings interfered with the broadcast of a children's program which featured, in a matter of fact manner, a lesbian couple who ran a maple syrup/sugar business in New England.

Tomlinson said, disingenuosly, that he didn't have a clue about the departure.

His final perfidy comes during the interview with Carlson, when he sits silently while Carlson mentions a 'study commissioned by the CPB' as if the CPB was some third party entity entirely disconnected from Tomlinson, who had ordered the study, and others, in a rather Orwellian effort to determine the 'political bias' of NPR, Bill Moyers's NOW, and the perceptions of PBS viewers.

Tomlinson seems unable to pursue his so-called 'concerns' openly.
Even if his intentions were completely innocent--something few adults would believe--Tomlinson's furtiveness and dishonesty encourage suspicion and mistrust, not only of his motives, but his goals.

His refusal to come clean about the studies he commissioned at CPB puts the lie to his feigned innocence. These analyses were apparently conducted by professional firms and financed by taxpayers. The results, however, do not support Tomlinson's 'beliefs' and therefore will not be disclosed, as they surely must be under law.

I hope legal action will force Tomlinson to give the taxpayers the information they paid for, or that some public-minded CPB employee will leak the studies to the press.

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