Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Battle Over Public Broadcasting

Salon.com reports that Ken Tomlinson, the chair of the federal Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a conservative ideologue, hell-bent on twisting the CPB-funded PBS and National Public Radio to conform to his world view.

There are those who want to go even farther: two committees of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by $100 million, but ultimately after a popular outcry, the House passed an amendment by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) restoring the money.

But the the battle over public broadcasting is far from over. The Christian Right and the wider conservative movement have long despised PBS and NPR and will continue to wage a war of attrition against independent public broadcasting.

Meanwhile, Members of Congress, notably Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) have called for Tomlinson's resignation, and People for the American Way is mounting a campaign to pressure Tomlinson to do just that.

Paul McLeary writes regarding Tomlinson in his Salon opinion piece, "if his actions are any guide, administration-approved appointments, secret contracts with conservative content monitors and suppressing polls that refute his 'liberal bias' charge are part and parcel of his vision of balance. In effect, Tomlinson is stacking the deck so far to the right at the CPB that what he claims to see as balance, many others view as a right-wing coup in public broadcasting."

McLeary quotes Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy as saying the Bush White House and the Republican Party "have no intention to drop their campaign against public broadcasting."

"Ken Tomlinson is channeling Richard Nixon," Chester adds. "These dirty tricks, backdoor communications with the White House, the purging of senior executives, recruiting top-level GOP operatives -- all to scare public broadcasting officials" -- are reminiscent of Nixon's anti-public broadcasting crusade in the early '70s."

[Crossposted from FrederickClarkson.com]

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