Monday, October 31, 2005

New Pub-casting Chief Completes Right-Wing Coup

Big Bird will be mine
The new president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has stacked the agency's offices with propagandists and White House loyalists in a bold-faced effort to carry forward Kenneth Tomlinson's right-wing crusade against public broadcasting.

(Update: Tomlinson is shown the door)

Since taking up her post as CPB President in June, Patricia de Stacy Harrison -- the former co-chair of the Republican National Committee -- has brought in 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."

Each of the new hires had previously served under Harrison when she was assistant secretary for educational and cultural affairs and acting undersecretary for public affairs and public diplomacy.

"Public diplomacy" is gov-speak for propaganda. The packing of the CPB with individuals more comfortable with selling U.S. propaganda than with honest journalism sends a not-so-subtle signal to those working in public broadcasting that truth is out and government spin is in. Harrison's CPB hires include:
Tim Isgitt, now CPB’s vice president for government affairs, was a driving force behind the campaign to place pro-American propaganda in Arabic media worldwide to win Arab support for the war on terror. Before joining the State Department, Isgitt was a manager for international public relations giant Burson-Marsteller; the firm has a history of placing key players in George W. Bush's presidential campaigns into top public relations jobs across the industry.

Mike Levy, the new CPB vice president of communications, served as Harrison's chief of staff when she headed the RNC. At the State Department, Levy developed "pro-active media strategies" to increase support for U.S. counter-narcotics initiatives in more than 100 countries as part of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. He also previously worked as special assistant to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and as press secretary to several GOP congressional campaigns.

Helen Mobley, hired as CPB’s senior director of corporate communications and planning, worked closely with Harrison to manage the State Department's efforts to bring Afghan women to America to showcase new freedoms after the downfall of the Taliban regime. Mobley also was deputy director of scheduling during George W. Bush's first presidential run and has been active in, Bobby Eberle's Texas-based campaign "to spread the conservative message throughout America." Eberle became known earlier this year for having hired J.D. Guckert -- aka Jeff Gannon -- as his White House corresondent.
I have posted extensive profiles of these three at Free Press.

The CPB was created to shield public broadcasting from political interference, not to be a megaphone for the White House. Harrison's actions have made it clear that she and her right-wing cronies at the CPB will not be deterred from their quest to turn America's treasured public broadcasting system into partisan echo chamber.

Harrison got her own position at the CPB through her political connections to then-Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, who also heads the Broadcasting Board of Governors -- which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, al-Hurra, Radio and TV Marti and other government-run international broadcasting. Tomlinson's successor, current CPB Chairwoman Cheryl Halpern, is another big GOP fundraiser who spent seven years as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Big Bird equals Mao
Tomlinson is currently being investigated for efforts to impose his political agenda at CPB by funding programming with a pro-government slant, secretly monitoring PBS and NPR for signs of "liberal advocacy journalism," as well as hiring unqualified political cronies like Harrison.

Inspector General Kenneth Konz is expected to present his findings -- which reportedly included ethical and procedural violations as well as misuse of funds -- on Tuesday to a closed-door meeting of the CPB board of directors, of which Tomlinson remains a member.

"CPB is being governed more like a private, secret society than an agency supported by taxpayers,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "As the hiring of former State Department propaganda colleagues by Patricia Harrison illustrates, the CPB has been ideologically hijacked."

Free Press, the Center for Digital Democracy and Common Cause have repeatedly called for greater openness and accountability at the CPB. Earlier this year, we delivered more than 150,000 petitions to the CPB, demanding Tomlinson step down and boardmembers end their partisan interference with public broadcasting.

To add your name to the petition visit the Free Press action page.


Anonymous said...

A Must Listen Bill Moyers blasts CPB-Bu$h-Chairman Tomlinson
Veteran journalist calls for nationwide public hearings on future of public broadcasting

in speech at the National Conference for Media Reform... 5/15/05

1. A video of the speech is available at

3. Sign the Free Press petition at
Thank U,

Thomas said...

Good halloween animation...
Climate Mash

Anonymous said...

it should be VERY obvious to all that could/would support a truly unfettered/independent voice that it is well past time to severe the (purse) strings to any/all government funding for public broadcasting.

in voluntarily finishing what the 'contract (on) america folks initiated back in the early 90's (reducing year over year funding for public braodcasting virtually every year we can jettison these partisan hacks and breath a breath of 'fresh air' back into AmeriKa.

i've got 25+ years of sales experience and would welcome an opportunity to put it to (good) use moving public broadcasting into TOTAL SUBSCRIBER support.


lostnacfgop said...

Wonderful, the Brownie-fication of the Federal Government continues . . . take an agency that used to run pretty efficiently on its own, gut the effective staff and liberally replace them with political hacks and sycophantic cronies and voila!!!

Come to think of it, WAIT!! New idea for kids TV show and keep former crony screw up on radar Screen: "Brownie and Friends" featuring failed FEMA head in a purple dinosaur outfit, constantly making excuses for his boorish and arrogant behavior toward a group of generally unpalatable kids.

RADdams said...

I understand that the Tomlinson investigative hearings start today, however it will be done behind closed doors and he will be present. Somehow he is still a member of the board of CPB?? So much for fair and transparent governence of public institutions - not really of the people, by the people and for the people!

I like "Brownie-fication" - but it feels more like they are giving the rest of us the "Public Wedgie-fication".

Anonymous said...

I can hear it now: "Morning Edition" with Pat Robertson.

Scott Baradell said...

No, no, no...not "Morning Edition" -- the new name will be "Morning in America" ;)

can'tbelievewhatishappening said...

So how does one effectively fight this issue locally? The local stations cannot operate without the money we pledge yearly, yet I feel awful about sending any of it to CPB now. How can they become independent???

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, surely there must be some strong grounds for a legal challenge to this blatant politicization of the CPB. The organization's founding documents must set out the requirement of independence from government or other sources of political influence.

It's a model of public broadcasting that has worked well in most of the rest of the developed world, including here in Canada. By providing public funding you free the broadcaster of being a slave to advertisers, and by enforcing the arm's length independent relationship to the government you can have a remarkably independent and fiesty publif c broadcaster.

Someone mentioned the subscription model above, but my experience has been that such stations need to spend so much time and effort on fundraising that programming suffers. Also keeps the station in a perpetual "crisis mode" and makes it very hard to plan long-term.

Pubic funding with no political interference is the the best choice, and not that hard to do when a government respects the rule of law. So impeach Bush first!

Anonymous said...

I can hear it now: "Morning Edition" with Pat Robertson.

Anonymous said...

I am currently not a member of this organization. I have read in Frank Rich's "The Greatest Story Ever Told" about Patricia Harrison and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I am incensed and outraged and cannot wait for the day when Karl Rove meets his "Maker". No God, Christian or otherwise would alloy such dishonesty. The charade of the last six years must end -- NOW!