May 1, 2005


Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases (Stephen Labaton, Lorne Manly and Elizabeth Jensen, 5/02/05, NY Times)

The Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias, prompting some public broadcasting leaders - including the chief executive of PBS - to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence.

Without the knowledge of his board, the chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, contracted last year with an outside consultant to keep track of the guests' political leanings on one program, "Now With Bill Moyers."

In late March, on the recommendation of administration officials, Mr. Tomlinson hired the director of the White House Office of Global Communications as a senior staff member, corporation officials said. While she was still on the White House staff, she helped draft guidelines governing the work of two ombudsmen whom the corporation recently appointed to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts.

Mr. Tomlinson also encouraged corporation and public broadcasting officials to broadcast "The Journal Editorial Report," whose host, Paul Gigot, is editor of the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. And while a search firm has been retained to find a successor for Kathleen A. Cox, the corporation's president and chief executive, whose contract was not renewed last month, Mr. Tomlinson has made clear to the board that his choice is Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee who is now an assistant secretary of state.

Mr. Tomlinson said that he was striving for balance and had no desire to impose a political point of view on programming, explaining that his efforts are intended to help public broadcasting distinguish itself in a 500-channel universe and gain financial and political support.

"My goal here is to see programming that satisfies a broad constituency," he said, adding, "I'm not after removing shows or tampering internally with shows."

But he has repeatedly criticized public television programs as too liberal overall, and said in the interview, "I frankly feel at PBS headquarters there is a tone deafness to issues of tone and balance."

The numbers may not be quite the same for PBS, but NPR tends to have as many self-identified conservative listeners as liberal, or more, and it just makes good sense to try not to intentionally alienate your audience.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 1, 2005 11:05 PM

I admit it, I listen to NPR.

Posted by: Dave W. at May 1, 2005 11:50 PM

Me too. But I'd listen more if it didn't annoy me so much.

Posted by: ghostcat at May 2, 2005 12:10 AM

I listen, but only for the classical music.

Posted by: jd watson at May 2, 2005 1:03 AM

I'd like to know (if it's possible to know) just how much of the drivel they spewed drove otherwise blase listeners to vote for Bush in November.

(In other words, to what extent is Karl Rove responsible for the "news and analysis" that takes places---supposedly---on PBS and NPR?)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at May 2, 2005 2:48 AM

Didn't someone make a similar claim about CSPAN, but to the effect that conservative callers outnumbered liberal by a wide margin?

I used to listen to NPR, read the editorial pages of the St. Pete Times (left leaning), listen to WMNF (a very left leaning radio station whose motto is "we're as far left as you can get on the dial"), etc. because I wanted to know the arguments of the other side. I've taken a long hiatus from them all since 911 and am just getting back to listening to them. I guess the blatant anti-Americanism was more than I could stand at the time and just made me unreasonably angry.

Mr. Judd, you frequently comment that conservatives have comedy (a theory I believe is correct), but you have to admit the liberals have music (the reason I missed listening to WMNF).

Posted by: Buttercup at May 2, 2005 8:15 AM

Some NPR stations have great classical music programs but the far leftwing Socialist propaganda from BBC drives me up a wall. PBS has some wonderful programs on history, nature, science and drama but their political output, including Frontline, is mostly biased to the left, in my opinion. I used to be a regular supporter of both PBS and NPR and would still like to continue so, but wouldn't send them a dime now. I wish Mr. Tomlinson good luck in his long overdue efforts. Both entities could once again be great.

Posted by: at May 2, 2005 9:09 AM



All great classical music is Christian and all great rock songs are misogynist:

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 9:21 AM

I listen to NPR for the purpose of getting annoyed.

I think God put Fresh Air on the radio to annoy me and everyone else in the world.

Posted by: pchuck at May 2, 2005 9:57 AM

Mr. Judd: You probably know better than I about classical music (since I am not knowledgeable about this at all), but are you saying that the conservative position is misogynist, at least as represented by great rock songs? Rap is misogynist, is it conservative, too? Rock and rap are nihilistic, is that conservative?

I was thinking along the lines of Ben Harper (for example, but there are many others), who gets a lot of airplay on my local leftie station and doesn't come off as a conservative. Of course, there may be an argument, similar to your arguments about comedy, that the artist may be liberal but the art form is inherently conservative.

Posted by: Buttercup at May 2, 2005 10:55 AM

Mr. Judd: Completely off topic, but why when I check your site stories appear that were not there earlier? For example, I might log on at 6am, catch up on what you posted the night before, but if I scroll through at 11am, there are stories that show they were posted the previous day but did I did not see them at 6am.

Since I'm completely addicted to this site, it annoys me. Also, did you ever have a job writing headlines?

Anyway, keep up the good work. I may not agree with you all the time, but I always find the arguments interesting, well thought out and pithy.

Posted by: Buttercup at May 2, 2005 11:02 AM

Enjoying misogny is anti-PC.

Ben Harper is born-again and records a lot with the great gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 11:02 AM

There are several reasons, all likely uninteresting.

First, I try to get as much of what I post in back of stuff that Peter, David, etc. post as possible.

Second, I try to put stuff I find more interesting towards the front.

Third, I try to hide from The Wife how much time I spend on-line.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 11:09 AM

Whether it is run by conservatives or liberals there is no reason for a 'Corporation for Public Broadcasting.' We have 2 zillion channels on TV and radio, let the market decide. There is plenty of market segmentation so that lefties, conservatives, and even monarchists can have their own channel. You can find a Polka Channel on satellite radio.

The taxpayer need not be fleeced and no government bureaucrat should be empowered with the ability to choose what us ordinary mortals can see or hear.

Posted by: bart at May 2, 2005 11:21 AM

NPR and PBS generally do a good job but they should be endowed and self-funding.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 11:53 AM

God, I know what you mean.

Just as I finish watching the McGlaughlin Group with Pat Buchanan and TOny Blankley, those libruls at PBS put on the Pinko Editorial Board at the Wall Street Journal.

Liberal my ass. Anything to the Left of Hitler is liberal to these Brownshirts.

Posted by: mklutra at May 2, 2005 5:51 PM

Hitler was a Darwinian Socialist. Of course we want stuff to his Right.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 6:07 PM

Mr. Judd: Speaking as the OJ equivalant of my household (though I haven't a blog) it is useless to try and hide it. I take the proactive measure of reminding my dh that I have not wasted time on Desperate Housewives, Sex in the City, the Sopranos, the Simpsons, South Park, Wild on E, MTV, O, Lifetime, Dr. Phil, Oprah, Jerry, Bill Maher, etc. Which has the benefit of allowing him to watch any sport at any time to his hearts content. Though this may not be a viable option for you, now that I think about it.

Posted by: Buttercup at May 2, 2005 7:55 PM

MLB has a great package where for $15 for the year I get every baseball game on Internet radio.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 8:32 PM

But do you ever listen to those exciting Rangers - Blue Jays games?

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 2, 2005 10:55 PM

I like them both. Orel Hershiser could get that pitching staff in TX to where it surprises people.

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 11:00 PM