Friday, February 09, 2007

Bush Calls for Propaganda Surge, Slashes PBS

The latest twist of Bush's budgetary knife lays bare the White House's information priority: Fake news trumps real reporting.

Out of his depth
George W. Bush is trying—yet again—to smother NPR, PBS and other public broadcasting while forcing an escalation (sorry, "surge") in funding for propaganda.

The president's proposed fiscal year 2008 budget for "U.S. international broadcasting" calls for an overall increase of 3.8% from the last year's recommendation.

All told the budget calls for $668.2 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency that supervises all US government non-military propaganda.

Journalism Slash and Burn

At the same time, Bush's budget proposes steep cuts to federal funds for public broadcasting -- by nearly 25%. According to the Association of Public Television Stations, the Bush budget would slash up to $145 million from the $460 million proposed FY 2008 budget for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.

The amount allocated to the BBG is a 3.8 percent increase from the agency's 2007 budget, with monies specifically "targeted to the war on terror." These tax dollars would flow to government mouthpieces including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Alhurra, Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

According to a BBG release: "The budget also fully funds initiatives … to critical Muslim audiences. These include the expansion of VOA television to Iran to a 12 hour stream, VOA Pashto radio programming to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, television programs to Afghanistan and Pakistan and Alhurra Europe, the 24/7 service to Arabic speakers in Europe."

Taxpayer money well spent?

Measure the overwhelming public support for funding of public broadcasting against their growing dissatisfaction with the war effort. According to a 2005 Roper poll, 82% of Americans believe that taxpayer funding given to PBS is "money well spent." A recent AP-Ipsos poll counts 62% of Americans who now think that going to war in Iraq was a mistake.

Bush's proposed cuts to public broadcasting will put "Sesame Street" and other ad-free kids' shows under the knife. So too will be the watchdog journalism, critical voices and diverse fare that PBS, NPR and other public media offer. The cuts continue the partisan war on journalism once led by the ex-chair of public broadcasting, Ken Tomlinson. (Remember him?)

It's now up to Congress to set the budget right and restore funding to media that more accurately represents the public's priorities. You can help.


Anonymous said...

My saddening experience has been that, when people outside the USA say something nice about America, they are only trying to be polite. Therefore, barring a radical overhaul of US foreign policy and actions, the money would be better spent trying to improve the US government's credibility and popularity at home -- particularly at a time when opinion polls report such weak numbers for the chief executive.

Anonymous said...

Public Broadcasting is a favorite target of the GOP. In 1994, Newt Newt Gingrich campaigned unsuccessfully to "zero out" funding for the CPB. Republicans tried again in 2005, a proposal was introduced by Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), to cut the CPB budget by 100 million (25%) and eliminate all funding within two years. (Washington Post 6/10/2005), and again in 2006 proposed a $115 million (23%) cut. (Broadcasting & Cable, 6/7/2006)

Clearly now more than ever we need unbiased news sources like NPR and PBS. This is one area where letter-writing campaigns seem to make a difference, probably because it's more of an ideological issue and lobbyists aren't spending big bucks to sway politicians. There's probably less danger now of this actually passing now that Dem's control the Congress, but still....write them and let them know:

U.S. House of Representatives
Write Your Representative (

Senators of the 110th Congress (Contact Info)

Anonymous said...

Should the President wish to have additional propaganda placed over the airwaves one should think of the office itself. Mr. President perhaps a better editorialized comment or speech would do wonders for the image of the USA abroad. To cut the budget of the PBS is not the answer.

Boulder Sue said...

My husband was commenting just last night that he was frustrated that all the news networks were playing exactly the same stories. Fortunately I have discovered Link TV and Free Speech TV and have been listening to BBC and NPR for years. Agood mix of media viewpoints is absolutely essential to an informed electorate and solid democracy. It's the only way we can at leas try to sort out the truth of matters. I am presently taking a break from watching a program I recorded overnight: a BBC production shown on Link Tv re: the Bush administration's efforts to soften warnings from government scientists on global warming by controlling what went out to the media by muzzling the scientists themselves. The problem is not just cutting funding for such as NPR and PBS though. Many, including my husband, don't really seem to actually search out the truth. NPR noticably has suffered under the present administration, becoming somewhat "fluffier".Still I don't want it watered down any more than it is. And I would also encourage anyone who is really interested in the news to search out as many sources as possible.

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NNWood said...

Unbiased NPR and PBS? Not since 1994 when Newt Gingrich did indeed try to "zero out" funding for the CPB. Before that, the CPB at least gave occasional lip service to moderate and conservative viewpoints. After that, CPB aligned itself completely with those who promised to feed it. I listen to NPR daily- just to hear the liberal media's viewpoint. I no longer give to NPR or CPB as I used to do- before they became an arm of the Democratic party. My local NPR station just completed their semi-annual fund drive. It was less successful than they had hoped. I believe that has to do with their target audience- liberal democrats who always believe someone else should pay.