Tuesday, May 03, 2005

PBS Suffers the 'Fox Effect'

Fair and Balanced Ken
In the last 24 hours more than 30,000 Americans have called on the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to resign for failing to uphold CPB's nonpartisan mandate.

The Free Press action follows a May 2 report in the New York Times, which reveals CPB head Kenneth Tomlinson's covert efforts to combat what he considers "liberal bias" at PBS. Tomlinson and other Republican operatives claim that they are trying to make our Public Broadcasting System more "fair and balanced," despite an overwhelming majority of Americans who already believe PBS to be trustworthy and unbiased.

Tomlinson's CPB was put in place by Congress to shield PBS from political pressure. But since taking the reins he has secretly hired a White House staffer to help draft "guiding principles" for the future of CPB. He brought in a consultant to monitor the "anti-Bush" and "anti-Tom Delay" content on Bill Moyers' NOW program, and then set up and funded right-wing commentator Paul Gigot's new PBS program. Now Tomlinson is working behind the scenes to stack CPB's board and executive offices with Republican Party cronies.

Tomlinson and Acting CPB President Ken Ferree insists that they are trying to restore "objectivity and balance" to a PBS beseiged by liberals. Despite their conservative bellyaching, two recent surveys show that the majority of the Americans doesn't see any real bias in public broadcasting.

In an apparent bid to confirm their own prejudices, CPB hired the Republican pollsters at Tarrance Group to survey public opinion about PBS bias. In resulting 2003 poll, however, PBS news and information consumers were highly supportive of such programs as the "Newshour," "Frontline," "Morning Edition," and "All Things Considered."

More than half surveyed found PBS's news programming to be more trustworthy than ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CNN news shows. 80 percent found PBS programming to be "fair and balanced."

Rather than respect public opinion, Tomlinson and right-wing crew decided to discard the poll and charge ahead with plans to fix what Americans say isn't broken. This top-down partisan meddling goes against the very nature of PBS and the local stations that Americans trust. It's time to let the future of PBS be decided by the people, not by the secret dealings of White House operatives.

Tomlinson's actions remind that the "Fox Effect" is alive in American media. Even noncommercial institutions aren't imune from infection from the likes of Murdoch, Ailes and their advocates in the administration.

Free Press asked its 170,000 members to write Congress, CPB and PBS calling for Tomlinson to step down and supporting a series of town hall meetings to discuss the future of public broadcasting.

Last week, Free Press, Consumers Union, Media Access Project, Common Cause and the Consumer Federation of America released a report, "A New Standard: Building a Public Broadcasting System that Deserves Public Support," calling for "a public ascertainment process" before lawmakers and bureaucrats attempt to establish politically motivated standards for PBS and other public broadcasters.

Tomlinson's actions highlight the urgent need for town hall meetings in local communities across the country. If public broadcasting is to be reformed in a positive direction, it must be driven from the bottom-up.


Anonymous said...

Townhall Meetings???
Where have we heard that before???What a scam!!!
Only RepubliCONS need attend.
That's the only CONstituency allowed in.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. Can't wait for them to hire Oreilly, Hannity, Coulter and my personal "fair & balanced" favorite Michael (Weiner) Savage. Air all these people on Sunday (after church of course)and the rest of us can move to Canada.

SlobJones said...

The Foximization of PBS is already under way.

Have you seen Right-Wing Wall Street Week? Sickening.

And did anybody see bow-tie boy Tucker Foxhead on his new PBS show just before the election suggesting people NOT vote?

PBS is already dead.

Anonymous said...

thats the only reason i watch pbs so i dont have to listen to right wing asholes

Phoenix Woman said...

Last year, an anonymous PBS employee warned a friend that "I only wish I were kidding when I say that they'll have Big Bird quoting Scripture by this summer."

Looks like he was off by a year.

Anonymous said...

Please sign the petition to your Congress person and pass the email to everyone you know and tell them to do the same. Thank you. http://www.freepress.net/action/pbs

Anonymous said...

Karl Rove, Karl Rove, Karl Rove. Can't you just smell the lingering stench of Karl Rove's handiwork all over this CPB mess? Tomlinson and his cronies must go or the Fair and Balanced" he speaks of is going to be "FOX, JUNIOR" in no time. Like O'Reilly says "We report (OUR SLANTED VERSION OF THE NEWS), you decide". This is not the work of conservatives, it's the continuing work of radical evangelicals

Milpitas Monster said...

Once the religious right discovered that money was power, our democracy became very fragile. Theocracy is based upon the leadership of a few charismatic guys with straight bleached teeth and big hair. Those without a southern drawl soon find that more donations roll in if they adopt one.

In their brave new world all you will worship is their version of religion. All you will know is their concept of reality. All you will publish will be their words. Justice will be their interpretation of law. The only history children will learn is that created by them to glorify themselves and increase donations.

Anonymous said...

And a museum of christian natural history shows that dinosaurs co-existed with man, and that the fossil record supports the Bible, including the story of Noah's Ark and the flood, etc., etc.

The newspaper account I read claimed that museum founders expect up to 50,000 visitors annually, all of them willing and eager lambs to the slaughter of their intellect.

This country will not survive the century if people insist that their beliefs are more important than the evidence of their senses.

But then again, who cares if the US survives its own ignorance and stupidity? I'm not sure I care if human beings outlive the cockroach, considering the way we behave.

Anonymous said...

Want to solve this? We need an EN MASSE cancellation of cable TV accounts...One month with no receipts and the CEO salary may look a little different, eh? What the fuck are we paying $40/mo for? To see Sean Hannity interviewed on ABC? Cable has degenerated into a "party line", ie FOX 24/7 on every news channel, with your programming alternatives of censored/hacked up movies, jesus freak horseshit and advertisng/sales.

crooked smile said...

If you can back track thru history and see what Tomlinson was involved in professionaly we may get a clearer picture of his real personality. Though it doesnt look good. I cant find anything that says he was a 70's reactioanary against students protesting the war. He was a correspondent in Vietnam which must make him disgusted at the attacks that were perpetrated on Kerry and McCain during each election by the Rove, Card and the henchmen. Anyway I am sure the truths there for the taking. My local public radio is starting to sound like self censorship. Just a matter of time before Davis Saderos is on Satalite.

Anonymous said...

As the repugs moan about bias and balance within PBS, they fail to provide "balance" inside CPB as ordered by law.

Under the Public Broadcasting Act, the White House can put appointees
one political party in no more than five of the nine CPB Board seats.
The White House reliably goes to the max, swinging the board's majority
to its own party as the six-year board terms expire.

The board now has five Republicans, two Democrats, a professional
pubcaster of no stated party and a vacancy*.

I got the above from CURRENT, a public broadcasting newspaper. Here's
the link:


The article is dated Jan. 2004, so it is more than a year old, but the
board composition is still the same (go to cpb.org to get the list).
the one vacancy has been vacant for more than a year, it seems, and no
one at the White House (who must appoint the board members) seems to
care that the CPB board itself is not balanced.

Anonymous said...

What on earth is in Tomlinson's mind? I suppose the science shows
will be next and then Lehrer.
Why doesn't he just turn to some
other station (like Fox) or the
morning shows on NPR. Sometimes
they are better than the other
network broadcasts. Beware the truth according to Tomlinson. Sue Eckley

Anonymous said...

yeah, take the one trustworthy organization, truly man's friend, and turn it into a beast that resembeles a dog, but fear it's intentions, it behaves not like a dog, but a predator (FOX). it scents blood, and literally survives on corpses. such animals travel in packs (CNN, NBC etc), and target small innocent animals such as rabbits etc( PBS, BUZZFLASH). good job mr.chairman. you have proved to me that you are nothing but a drone, a moutpiece for a sensless mouthpiece. you are so far removed from the chain in command, that eventually you may become an accepted casualty of war (corporate or iraq-u decide{deride?}).

Anonymous said...

Want to save Big Bird? Then just do an LBO of CPB, buy it from the government, take it public and cash in? The merchandising revenue from Sesame Street alone can sustain several stations.

Or try this...stop accepting federal funds and instead sell advertising. What a concept!

CPB gladly takes money from all citizens to serve the interests of a few, and its politics have gotten in the way of its good works.

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mia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peter Spero said...


Anonymous said...

There are actually some folks in the country who don't want a fundamentalist, conservative, christian United States of America. When did we lose our right to have a country the way WE want it. How come only the conservatives are right? What happened to majority rules? The only time republicans talk about that is when the majority is them.

Anonymous said...

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 80% of polled belived PBS "fair and balanced". Only if 10 people were polled and 8were pre-selected Liberal-Socialist-Marxtist or whatever the Democrats call themselves this week!