Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tomlinson Slinks Away

Out of his depth
Embattled Ex-Chair Leaves Behind
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.

Big Bird will be mine
Free Press has been hounding Tomlinson since the reports of his right-wing tampering emerged in the media. In June, I delivered to CPB offices 100,000 signed petitions calling for his immediate resignation. Along with our colleagues at Common Cause and Center for Digital Democracy, Free Press has pressured the CPB to open up operations to public scrutiny and take the politics out of public broadcasting.

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.


gary said...

And Of course when the Dems do the same thing it's called ...???

Oh yeah. Right. Freedom of the press.



The Unknown Candidate said...

Great job, Gary. Keep it up! I linked one of your articles to my blog. I invite you to visit and would be honored to reciprocally link if you agree.
Take a look.

The Unknown Candidate

Tim said...

Nice try fellas. Tomlinson's closed-door maneuvers were gross violations of CPB guidelines. If you think otherwise, wait for the IG's Nov 15 report. The proof is in his puding. This has nothing to do with freeedom of the press, and everything to do with abusing the public interest to serve a narrow political agenda.

Today's NYT story, gives ample evidence of the character of the man in question. Oh right, it's in the Times, that bastion of liberal misinformation, and therefore a lie of the vast left-wing conspiracy against upstanding Americans like Tomlinson, Rove, DeLay and Libby.

The Polit Burro said...

If you can point to an investigation at the CPB that's uncovered anything like what that hack Tomlinson has been up to in terms of Democratic partisans, Gary, then I'll grant you your "freedom of the press" crack.

It would be even better if you could point me towards several investigations across several CPB bureaucracies.

Until then, I'll reserve the right to think of your comment as purely brown-eyed.

The Unknown Candidate said...

Oops. SO sorry, Timothy....I mistakenly addressed Gary instead of YOU.

As for YOU, Gary, "Bah humbug."

Keep up the good stuff, Tim.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it folks, this current administration is attacking all of our freedoms on every level. Instead of moving forward we're going back to the Feudal system practiced centuries ago, King George at the top, the oil Barons making the profits, Rove the court advisor and so on.... Unfortunately that leaves us in the position of the serfs. We're the ones who toil in the "fields" and live under a "False sense of Democracy" while the nobles ( the current administration )prosper off of our sweat (i.e. tax dollars). The fields are barren, the rivers and oceans are foul, the skies are filled with jet fuel instead of birds, our young men and women are leaving their blood on foreign lands and the current adminstrators are laughing at us all the way to the bank! What's it feel like to be the sacrificial goat for the current rulers?

What did America once represent - what does it represent now ? Let me think on that one!

New Mexico has the right idea - down with the King!

-Ron, Palm Beach County , Florida

Anonymous said...

Par for the course, its been clear that the whitehouses preference has been for extreme right wing state media, since donald's office of 'media affairs' stole funding to help spread propaganda within and outside of our borders. Stiffling of the press is not just an activity that has to be pursued abroad in places like iraq (state controlled media is the rule and not the exception), but a model the regime wishes to see duplicated here. Fox news made no bones about it when they declared 'the war in iraq will be won here (not in iraq) - susterend' and blamed intellectuals and the free press for the presidents policies. In their minds information is just another valueless political game and viewers are simple fodder to be molded and controlled.