A CPB Stacked with Party Operatives
The disgraced former Corporation for Public Broadcasting board chairman Ken Tomlinson has resigned, according to a Thursday night release from the funding agency's board of directors. And now he's part of a criminal inquiry that includes extensive communications with White House political advisor Karl Rove (read the update).
The action comes two days after CPB's Inspector General issued a report detailing Tomlinson's efforts to impose a partisan agenda on PBS, NPR and other publicly funded programming.
While Tomlinson's has reluctantly agreed to walk, his former colleagues on the board and within the CPB's offices are continuing a partisan crusade to remake public broadcasting into another White House mouthpiece.
Tomlinson has left behind a coterie of GOP hacks who have occupied the offices of an agency that was put in place by Congress to act as a "heat shield" -- protecting public broadcasting producers from the hot political winds of Washington. Tomlinson and his right-wing colleagues -- including new board chair Cheryl Halpern and president Patricia Harrison -- have turned the CPB's "heat shield" into their political blow torch.
Newly elected Chairwoman Halpern and Vice Chairwoman Gay Hart Gaines have both donated substantial money to GOP candidates and causes, and Harrison is a former GOP chairwoman.
With Tomlinson, they have governed the CPB like a chapter of the Elks Club, and not an agency responsive to taxpayers and the public interest -- imposing a narrow agenda on programming and hatching other political schemes in a series of meetings that were closed to the public. The Inspector General report, which has yet to be made available, is expected to detail wide ranging ethical and procedural violations as well as misuse of funds by the erstwhile chair.
Tomlinson is the first to be shown the exit; others -- including Halpern, Gaines and Harrison -- should follow him out the door.
Earlier this week, we released a report revealing the extent to which GOP loyalists and state department propagandists had infiltrated the agency and their executive offices. Since taking up her post as CPB President in June, Harrison has stacked the payroll with senior officers from the State Department's "Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy" division, the group that oversees efforts to "advance U.S. interests and security and to provide the moral basis for U.S. leadership in the world."
"Public Diplomacy" is gov-speak for propaganda. Since joining the CPB, Harrison has conducted nothing more than a stealth campaign to carry forward Tomlinson's crusade against objective programming. She should take her cues not from Tomlinson but from the IG report, and exit stage right.
This doesn't seem to be her intention nor that of the board. In their statement following Tomlinson's departure, the board strike a disturbingly defiant tone. They fail to admit wrongdoing and express regret about Tomlinson's -- and their -- unethical behavior. Instead, they try to dodge the bullet:
The board does not believe that Mr. Tomlinson acted maliciously or with any intent to harm CPB or public broadcasting, and the board recognizes that Mr. Tomlinson strongly disputes the findings in the soon-to-be-released Inspector General’s report.They point fingers to the left -- at former CPB president Kathleen Cox, who left abruptly in April after it became clear what Tomlinson was up to. In a thinly veiled reference to Cox's tenure, the board tries to shift blame from their narrow shoulders:
The board expresses its disappointment in the performance of former key staff whose responsibility it was to advise the board and its members.Nice try. But wait, there's more:
Nonetheless, both the board and Mr. Tomlinson believe it is in the best interests of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that he no longer remain on the board. The board commends Mr. Tomlinson for his legitimate efforts to achieve balance and objectivity in public broadcasting. [my emphasis]About as "legitimate" as Rosemary's Baby. You've said your piece Harrison, Halpern and crew. Now, it's time to go.