Progressive Writers Bloc

The Myth of Left-Bias in Public Broadcasting

By Uncle Bill Warner

Given the commercial/corporate/sponsor-controlled media which stole the public airwaves right out from under the public and used them to entertain, misinform, and sell soap to the People, many thoughtful folks came to the conclusion that something needed to be done to protect the Public from this crass commercialization for the corporate good, rather than for the common good. The obvious answer was public, non-commercial broadcasting.

Public broadcasting was established in 1967 during the Johnson Administration. The founding charter, written by powerful U S. businessmen and philanthropists, called for the public broadcasting system to "...BE A FORUM FOR DEBATE AND CONTROVERSY" and "...PROVIDE A VOICE FOR GROUPS IN THE COMMUNITY THAT MAY OTHERWISE BE UNHEARD." Write that mission statement on a postcard and mail it to Bush appointee Kenneth Tomlinson, Chairman, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 401 Ninth Street, NW ,Washington, DC 20004-2129 . I don't think he has read it. He is presently working apace to complete the partisan right- wing takeover of what was supposed to be a forum for all . He mouths the far-right's "left-wing bias" myth over and over, and has done all he can to banish "unpleasantness" from PBS.

Given the Public Broadcasting mission statement, where are the weekly slots for Organized Labor? Human Rights? The Poor and disenfranchised? The Homeless? The United Nations? The Gay Community, Women's Rights? Minority Issues? Much of the present -day PBS programming is devoted to things of little interest to anyone save the right wing. You'll find the Wall Street bunch and the top 5% of the population well represented. According to a study done by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), however "REPRESENTATIVES OF ORGANIZED CITIZEN'S GROUPS AND PUBLIC INTEREST EXPERTS MADE UP ONLY 7 PER CENT OF THE NPR SOURCES". Hardly left wing bias!

Now, in all fairness, this right-wing takeover did not begin with his appointment. A lot of damage had already been done to PBS, and it is not by the Left. The corporations have already gotten, like the proverbial camel, their nose under the tent. The rest of the corporate camel has been getting more and more into the PBS tent...with even corporate criminals like Archer-Daniels-Midland and Grant-Thornton "underwriting" the "news". The pusillanimous directors of PBS pretend that the :underwriters" have no control over what is broadcast. If you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you. PBS management has also managed to keep literally dozens of award-winning films dealing with left-wing issues off the air, as they might be "too controversial."

Bush-appointed CPB chair Republican Kenneth Tomlinson former head of our "Voice of America" right-wing propaganda radio machine, hated centrist Bill Moyers so much so that he paid out $10,000 of taxpayers money to a researcher to watch Moyers' "Now" show over time and report back. He did, and Tomlinson refuses to tell us taxpayers what the report said. I suspect it showed Moyers being a whole lot less "left wing" than Tomlinson was willing to admit. Why else would he suppress the study?

The "NOW" show, presently cut to a half hour and without Moyers, dealt with issues the right wing would rather not have discussed, such as the use of torture or the hardships faced by military families. Things like that. Moyers, being devoted to balance, had guests on from both the right and the left. He has remarked that the American Eagle needed both a left and a right wing to fly, and that it would not fly very well with two right wings..

Tomlinson raised money to give a weekly program by the editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal, who don't even bother to pretend to be objective. They are right-wing beyond argument. His choice for the president of the CPB is Patricia Harrison, who is such a Republican activist she was elected co-chair of the Republican National Committee. He has also appointed two "ombudsmen" from his coterie whose job it will be to screen programming to keep controversy off the air. Will this lead a "balanced" range of programs representing the interests of the People? A right wing partisan takeover of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS-TV) and National Public Radio (NPR) ( radio)is the worst thing that can happen to America...opens the door for total thought control as they had in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. PBS is a firewall between us and those who would rule us.

Abraham Lincoln once asked a guest, "If you call a cow's tail a leg, how many legs will it have?" "Five," came the reply. "No," said Lincoln, "Calling the cow's tail a leg does not make it one." Tomlinson can parrot the big lie about left-wing bias in public broadcasting until the cows come home, but when they do, a careful inspection will find they four legs each. And three of those are on the right.

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