1/24/2006

USA TODAY on the trouble with PBS

PBS is getting a new chief, after Kenneth Tomlinson's reign of terror. There was a short piece on the new chief, Paula Kerger, in USA TODAY. I found this passage particularly interesting:

"Kerger takes over as PBS recovers from two controversies: accusations by former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chief Kenneth Tomlinson that PBS is too liberal and a flap over the kids show Postcards from Buster featuring a lesbian couple." [Italics mine.]

Now, we all know all about Buster. It's the interpretation of the Kenneth Tomlinson affair that interests me. The controversy was not in Tomlinson's accusations that PBS is too liberal. The controversy has to do with Tomlinson's stacking the CPB with right-wing political operatives and allowing Karl Rove to dictate PBS internal policy. The controversy has to do with Tomlinson abusing his position at the CPB so brazenly that he came under investigation by the State Department. The controversy is nicely summed up in the Inspector General's report that found he violated federal law to monitor and influence PBS programming, and used "political tests" to hire the president of the agency. The whole sordid, cynical affair is detailed at Timothy Karr's exellent mediacitizen blog.

Tomlinson obviously believed that the CPB was too liberal, but that's not where the scandal is here. And that's what's wrong with Ann Oldenburg's little article in USA TODAY. This kind of flip, distorted, bullshit "reporting" is rife in the so-called mainstream press.

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