The politics of PBS

Faced with widespread public outrage over his attempts to institute a regime of conservative “political correctness” at PBS, Kenneth Tomlinson resigned in September as chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But that wasn’t the end of the story. In November, CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz issue a report that detailed Tomlinson’s persistent violations of CPB rules, and even some violations of federal law.

Konz found that Tomlinson had violated CPB procedures by directly intervening to get the program The Journal Editorial Report on the air. The Report is a weekly half-hour show featuring columnists from the extremely conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. Konz also found that Tomlinson violated federal laws when he hired a Republican political consultant for a report that, among other things, tallied the “pro-Bush” and “anti-Bush” sources on PBS and NPR programs. The report also criticized Tomlinson for consulting with the Bush White House over the hiring of new CPB President Patricia Harrison (a former chair of the Republican National Committee).

All of this is good news, so far as it goes. Tomlinson is gone, but Harrison remains. The Report is still on the air, and our puny public broadcasting institutions remain pathetically vulnerable to the next strong breeze from Congress, the White House, or corporate America.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2006
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