Time To Pull The Plug on PBS

I'm not following the advice of the diary directly below this post, but oh well. I already am becoming the media, so I think I'm allowed to complain at least a little bit.

I haven't donated to either NPR or PBS in over five years, and I stopped becoming a regular listener / viewer around two or three years ago when I discovered blogs. However, considering that the Republican Noise Machine is setting up shop over at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I'm now going a step further and urging MyDD readers to stop donating to PBS. If you can't stomach that, at least stop donating during their news programming:

In the last 24 hours, more than 30,000 Americans have called upon the chairman for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) to resign for failing to uphold CPB's nonpartisan mandate.

The Free Press action follows a May 2 report in the New York Times, which reveals Tomlinson's covert efforts to combat what he sees as "liberal bias" at PBS. Tomlinson and other Republican operatives claim that they are trying to make our Public Broadcasting System more "fair and balanced," despite an overwhelming majoirty of Americans who already believe PBS to be trustworthy and unbiased.

Tomlinson's CPB was put in place by Congress to shield PBS from political pressure. But since taking the reins he has secretly hired a White House staffer to help draft "guiding principles" for the future of CPB. He brought in a consultant to monitor the "anti-Bush" and "anti-Tom DeLay" content on Bill Moyers' NOW program, and set up and funded right-wing commenter Paul Gigot's new PBS program. Now Tomlinson is working behidn the scenes to stack CPB's board and executive offices with Republican Party cronies.

Of course Tomlinson is going to complain about "liberal bias."Republicans see liberal bias literally everywhere on television. Democrats, unfortunately, trust every source of television news at least as much or more than Republicans trust Faux (I am not making this up). The way I figure it, however, if liberals can't have PBS, no one can. Just bag the whole damn thing. Like Republicans really deserve to control public airwaves anyway, when they would rather everything public (at least everything public that works) be sold off to uber-wealthy private interests anyway. Considering the impending changes, I say let it die.

Tags: Media (all tags)



I disagree
If we lose NPR and PBS, what is left as an objective source of news? NPR and PBS provide a broad cross section of America with the only source of nearly unbiased news in the entire United States of America.

This is beyond making the perfect the enemy of the good. This is making a hypothetical perfect broadcasting network that is Air America on steroids the enemy of the last bastion of nationwide comprehensive news coverage in America.

Query: Why do liberals and Democrats expect an executive with the Corporation for Pubic Broadcasting to have more political muscle than the entire Democratic party?

This is why liberals are losers. They have some pie in the sky ideological hegemony and absolutely no common sense. Abolishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a Newt Gingrich-Karl Rove-Rupert Murdoch wet dream.

Can anyone say "Mend it, don't end it"? Geesh.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-03 02:10PM | 0 recs
Or not
On furthur consideration, if Democrats are such complete pansies they can't even defend Social Security of the filibuster, maybe we should just let PBS and NPR die a graceful death.

Maybe after the Democratic party is dead and buried we can rejunvenate an interest in real news instead of faux news.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-03 02:17PM | 0 recs
A stitch in time
saves nine


If it aint broke don't fix it.

by David in Burbank 2005-05-03 07:18PM | 0 recs
Gary, you're missing the point
It's not a matter of the CPB executives valiantly trying but failing to win battles against a GOP administration.  The game is over.

What is worse than Fox?  A bunch of news outlets that are Fox-lite but have a stigma of being "liberal".

Do you think that Rupert Murdoch wants NPR or PBS gone?  Hell, no.  NPR & CBS provide the "liberal" boogeymen that justify Murdoch providing a pro-GOP network for "balance".

Prediction: The Right will staff PBS with a bunch of moderate-conservative pundits.  Then they will let them go on Fox to provide "balance" to the openly partisan right-wing hacks there.

This is what Fox does with NPR.  Juan Williams and Mara Liasson provide "balance" to Brit Hume, Bill Kristol, and Fred Barnes.  Why are they liberal?  Because they work for NPR, duh!  No NPR and people might start to ask exactly what the hell makes Williams and Liasson so liberal.  Certainly nothing they say on Fox (Although Williams had the class to become nauseous over the Swift Boat b.s.)

Sorry, "mend-it, don't end it" isn't common sense.  "Mend-it, don't end it" is your pie-in-the-sky, ideological fantasy.  You aren't going to mend it. That's a pipe dream.  The GOP owns the CPB now. I wish it weren't true, but it is.  Continuing to donate to CPB is like giving a crack addict money with the admonishment not to spend it on drugs.

by space 2005-05-04 11:05AM | 0 recs
We don't need anyone using public tax dollars to press their own political viewpoints, whether their right or left. And when you are doing documentaries or investigative news reporting I think there is a very few people that can do it without revealing, at least to some degree, their own political philosophies, in fact you usually reveal it in the very stories you pick and the people you choose to interview.    
by Freedom Fighter 2005-05-03 02:19PM | 0 recs
Republician myth of liberal bias...
the conservatives have built into their DNA a belief in hierarchy and a class structure.

They have a strong attachment to their father figure or anyone in their social order be it within the church or their elected representatives.

They believe that people have selected roles to fulfill and they are not to challenge their leaders, the decisions they make, the ideas they foster, their rules or laws they make.

Liberals on the other hand are very challenging and distrusting of anyone and don't really believe that an elected official is any better than they are and as a result have a natural tendency to challenge authority, ideas, power, rules, laws, etc.

The issue with conservatives/republicans and all of this mythical liberal bias is that they cannot fathom anyone challenging their father figure, its not in their DNA.

However, it should always be in the DNA of the 4th estate to challenge government at every turn on everything, liberals love this, conservatives love it when it challenges someone outside of their hierarchy, but cannot stand it when it challenges someone within it.

Thus they are at a contradiction with the entire purpose of the 4th estate when it comes to those that they elect as their reps.

Its like heresy is to the church.

Hey, lets just turn the thing into a non-profit publicly held corporation, I'd gladly buy up a bunch of shares.

by laughingriver 2005-05-03 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Republician myth of liberal bias...
Could Soros or somebody outbid Rupert? I'd gladly buy shares, but my concern is that the highest bidder would be Rupert Murdoch. Can you imagine what the media in this country would look like then?

I'm sure all of those 30,000 people snivling about PBS not standing up to the WH and Republican party would be much happier with our MSM then.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-03 03:18PM | 0 recs
Way over the top
PBS continues to produce many wonderful programs.  We should monitor the actions of the administration's plants and fight their attempts to propagandize the CPB; we should not abandon public broadcasting when it's under attack.
Bush and his right wing goons are only temporary.
by ChgoSteve 2005-05-03 02:44PM | 0 recs
Don't kill my favorite stations
I have to say I haven't watched PBS in a while-I dont have a TV-but I do listen to NPR which is almost entirely listener funded. I personally wish that it was more federally funded. There are way to many funding drives and basically, it tries to be as objective as possible. We cannot claim that PBS or NPR are completely unbiased, but at least that is part of the goal. Without them we'd just have networks that do not even hide their biases. It's not their fault that the people making the PBS or NPR news are comiong to libral conclusions, maybe its just logical if you only consider facts and not myths.
by bisclavret 2005-05-04 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Way over the top
Many of those "wonderful programs" are now available on DVD.  Just sign up for Netflix, . . . and make sure your cable package includes BBC.  

If the right is allowed to Prava-ize PBS, turn it off.  Alec Guinness and Judy Dench and Leo McKern would want you to.

by Raenelle 2005-05-04 08:34AM | 0 recs
Terminate With Extreme Prejudice
I agree with Chris that liberals and progressives should just pull the plug on PBS and let it go.  Conservatives aren't keeping it afloat and liberals are just being played for fools by PBS management.  Does anyone think that the public has any real input into PBS programming?  They report to virtually no one, except now the organization's chief is a wooly-headed neocon who brooks no back talk.

My spouse and I used to contribute to the PBS station in the New York City metro area.  About two years ago I was called by them to renew our support during one of their fund-raising efforts.  I was disturbed by the distinct rightward tilt PBS programming had taken and told them so, that I would not contribute again until they moved back to their previous programming practices.  We have not been contacted by our local PBS station by mail or telephone since. That silence says it all.

They know what they're doing in drifting toward a distinct conservative bias.  Stop subsidizing them and still allow them to complain about PBS liberal bias.  It gives them a foil to fend off attacks about the reactionary, corporate bias which pervades American TV programming.  Why pay for the weapon to be used against ourselves?

by VizierVic 2005-05-03 04:25PM | 0 recs
Those who are fans of CPB and want to preserve fair news programming might consider pledging money conditionally -- "I'll send you this much, but the money must go to this program," or "if that program is cancelled I want my money back." I don't know what the response will be, but it's a way to explicitly exert pressure on the organization, and to give those within the company who agree with you a leg to stand on.
by catastrophile 2005-05-03 04:41PM | 0 recs
Don't bag it; supply it
Instead of giving PBS money (or not) and hoping they to give us good programs, we should give them good programs that bring in more money.

We need more liberals producing more programming for PBS.  

Where are the liberal production companies?  What if somebody with connections to some wealthy donors were to convinces some Liberals to set up a big time production company withthe goal of supplying PBS with ten new programs in the next few years?

I think that would have a greater impact than a membership boycott.  

by Jeffrey Feldman 2005-05-03 08:00PM | 0 recs
by jcjcjc 2005-05-03 08:27PM | 0 recs
You assume...
that the Republicans will be in charge forever.

In the words of George Harrison,
"All Things Must Pass"

by v2aggie2 2005-05-03 08:50PM | 0 recs
It is a war worth fighting.
Look, both PBS and NPR serve a very large Liberal and Progressive Audience, as well as a Moderate Republican slice.  It's worth fighting to keep it healthy but it would be smart to look at how the system is organized and recognize that what's true in one part of the country is not necessarily the case in other parts.  

Republicans started threatening back in the mid 90's when they won the House -- and were very surprised that members who stepped forward on NPR in particular, really got a ton of letters from very mad Moderate and Middle-Upper Middle Classed Republican voters.  They backed off as a result, and many of the stations took this as fair warning, and built up endowments for their systems.  It's not true everywhere -- but it is in many places.  The result is the system can more or less survive without CPB funds for several years or more.  More important, NPR knows their audience well.  Many will fight with them to keep partisian politics out of management, though the initative needs to come from the audience.  

Here in Minnesota we complain all the time about our "Big Corporate MPR" -- so big that it owns stations in Idaho, Michigan, and Southern California -- and seems to always be buying other stations that are not well supported locally.  But MPR is also not vulnerable to CPB.  It has long had a strategy of owning a "for profit" side that produces capital that can and is re-invested in the "non-profit" side of things.  If you like listening to "As it Happens" from Canada -- well your local station is buying it from Minnesota -- as are they doing if your station carries BBC overnight.  MPR produces radio documentaries and sells them to out of area stations -- no CPB money at all.  MPR produces arts programs, Jazz programs, Author's series and of course Garrison Keillor.  It is a big business but it is so far above anything else that is available it's silly.

by Sara 2005-05-04 01:41AM | 0 recs
I Don't Agree, Either
I will continue to give in the hope that the threat fades away in 2009.  I do write to stations complaining of specific programs (like Paul Gigot's), and explaining that I do not want any of my contributions going to support programs like it.
by Bob H 2005-05-04 03:45AM | 0 recs
In the Times' article, Tomlinson complained about Moyers' show not giving time to opposing points of view.  But the article then noted that while Moyers had people like Grover Norquist on, the Wall Street Journal editorial board show has no opposing views.  Another example of blatant right-wing hypocrisy.

Because of that show, I would never give anything to PBS.  And I think people should boycott it in any event.  Aside from the fact that they're practically running commercials as it is, they specially in "puff" shows like Antiques Roadshow, self-help and financial gurus.  I remember a time, in the late 60s and 70s, when PBS did socially relevant programming.

by Paleo 2005-05-04 04:19AM | 0 recs
Cannot win if you do not play
This is an hilarious post.  PBS is bipartisan,
objective. In fact, I would go one step further:
the Lehrer News Hour is far and away the best
source of objective, bipartisan news
on television.

This is the reason why it topped all  - thats right
ALL of the other partisan news sources in its
coverage of the debates on network television.

As I recall, it was nearly 21 % of all viewers.
A huge segment. The same was true of coverage
of both conventions.

I believe certain other bitchy news entertainment
companies who fund certain partisan talking
heads to do their thing, love to sell the idea
that they're on top.

Lets define "top". shall we.. if you have
scaggy maggy on top of you, are you having fun?

PBS is a class act.

No changes whatsoever.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-05-04 04:36AM | 0 recs
David Green
NPR has a new correspondent covering the White House with Don Gonyea. His name is David Green. His job seems to be to parrot the White House line unfiltered. His MO is to quote Bush, then for comment or analysis quote some right-wing group saying how spot-on Bush is.

Just thought you should know.

by mysteve 2005-05-04 06:23AM | 0 recs
Re: David Green
Sounds like a great Mcssignment.
On one hand you have NPR, and the other, PBS.
NPR is just a single show. Still,
its fun to think if +anyone+ will
study the white house line. After
the big media consolidation - is
it profitable?
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-05-04 07:33AM | 0 recs
Just keep up the pressure
The radical right would like nothing better than to eliminate PBS. This has been an effort of theirs for years, mostly by attacking the funding.

To control a country you need to suppress all dissenting voices. Take a look at all the countries which close down newspapers.

Losing the only impartial TV outlet would be playing directly into the right's hands.

I think a continual campaign of letter writing and other public action is the best plan.
I have already written several times about the introduction of WSJ and Tucker Carlson to the PBS lineup. Two talking heads opinion shows are supposed to be a balance to investigative reporting.

If they want balance then let's have some investigative reportng by "conservative" reporters.
Funny how you won't be able to name one in any media. Throughout history it has been the voices of liberalism that have uncovered the defects in society starting with Lincoln Steffans and the other muckrakers in the early 20th Century up through Seymour Hersh today.

By philosophy the conservatives are the upholders of the status quo and have no desire to uncover scandals. That's the true "liberal bias".

Removing another source of independent information is not the way to proceed.

by rdf 2005-05-04 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Just keep up the pressure
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feinman!!


Would you deny Chris Bowers his steamroller
momentum from his previous post, where
he so eloquently proclaims that "partisan
media will only increase" after stating
that "although I am employed by them"..

What heresy! Better to simply proclaim that
we should all kill PBS!

Off with your head!!


by turnerbroadcasting 2005-05-04 07:37AM | 0 recs
The Right is top down. They know
how to take-over and run top-down organizations.

The left attempts to be bottom-up. We attempt to create bottom-up organizations.

The problem is that our basic model for bottom-up organizations is flawed to where the right is able to take-over our flawed bottom-up organizations.

The fatal flaw is winner-take-all, non-proportional elections, whether they be in government or private non-profit organizations.

PBS and CPB and "public" radio stations in general started out "non-public" in the sense that they are often created as self-electing boards or some similar structure.

Even Pacifica Radio suffers the same structural flaws. Simple majority or plurality rules allow dedicated activists (right or left) to drive out less dedicated, potentially more democratic forces until control becomes at least de-facto top-down.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-05-04 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: The Right is top down. They know
Pretty good post, Joe .
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-05-04 07:37AM | 0 recs
Sorry. I'm a bit dense.
Come again??? Joe? Joe Stalin?
by Jeff Wegerson 2005-05-04 07:49AM | 0 recs
Using Broadcast Media as an Organizing tool
has been a bad idea for the left from the start. Broadcast media are by definition a right-wing tool. It is a one-way communication tool from the few to the many. Broad cast.

The medium of electoral government is a left-wing tool. It communicates from the many to the few.

When the right trys to discredit governments (and elected union organizations) they are fighting against democracy and for authoritarianism. Broadcast media works for them.

Now comes the internet as a two-way, many-to-many medium. That is a medium and an organizational tool that favors our goals of democracy.

Just as the right has demonized government so should we demonize broadcast media. PBS has filled a vacuum for us for a while, but now is reverting to its more natural function of propagandizing the views of a few to the many. The internet will need to begin to take up the slack. To do that we must be prepared to sling mud on all forms of broadcast media. Including now PBS et al.

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-05-04 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Using Broadcast Media as an Organizing tool
Brand should be viewed as an exercise
to establish a value system.
So, you should be trying to help your participants
to be - in whatever movement you're trying
to start, to help guage the various
strengths and weaknesses of the group.

The goal is to get them to self identify, really
more than anything else. Since TV advertising
is so expensive, ineffectual and jaded -
you're probably just selling the idea
that you'd be happy to be a part of the

Note that if you're selling that, you're going to
be able to close the deal just by making something really cool. Thats why GOP campaign ads are always done in almost impeccable taste.

"Morning in America"


by turnerbroadcasting 2005-05-04 07:50AM | 0 recs
Makes sense to me
Branding is a tool of the few to herd the many. Once herded, the herd can be more easily controlled and moved in desired directions.

In our case we don't actually want to brand and herd, but rather signal evolved or self-discovered consensuses. So yes, impeccable, feel-good seconds of broadcast sounds and images would work fine, assuming that broadcasting is the most cost effecient way of sending that signal.

I suppose that when I suggest that we slime the broadcast media I am thinking more of supposed program content, news and shows, rather than the purchased propaganda.

by Jeff Wegerson 2005-05-04 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Using Broadcast Media as an Organizing tool
This is true.  PBS has always been of limited utility.  Sure, it sometimes had news, science, and cultrual programs that couldn't be seen elsewhere, but between A&E, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, etc., I'm not sure that's true anymore.  

As for the arts programming (e.g. Masterpiece Theater), it often served more to reinforce the image of "the Left" as out-of-touch liberal elists than it did to provide much needed programming.  Glorified soap operas with British accents were never worth reinforcing the limousine liberal stereotype.

Now with blogs, etc. I have no use for PBS.  Even if the GOP hadn't co-opted it, I would have supported phasing it out.   But as a trojan horse for the GOP?  It can't be killed soon enough.

by space 2005-05-04 11:13AM | 0 recs
Kill PBS? That's the coward's way out!
WTF. So the GOP machine is maneuvering to reshape PBS into the right-wing mold, and the democrats answer is to just pack up their shit and go home? You concede PBS to the republicans, surrending another piece of the shrinking turf of independent media so that nothing will be left to report the truth to the American people?

What a bunch of spineless cowards.

The democrats don't deserve to win any more elections as long as they aren't willing to fight for them. No wonder the GOP is so successful in privatizing the media and brainwashing the public.

How about fighting for something for once. Liberal blogs have brought down media figures before, why not wage a campaign against this GOP mole running PBS? Where's ACT and MoveOn?

You know what? You're right. Here's comes the GOP machine! Better just take your ball and go home... And democrats wonder why Americans can't trust them to fight a war.

by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-05-04 10:12AM | 0 recs


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