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Dems Get PBS Investigated for Conservative Bias
May 17, 2005

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

It seems that a couple of high-ranking Democrats believe they've spotted a potential offense that screams for some immediate investigative attention.

What's raising antennae and fueling Dem suspicions? Is it an issue involving homeland security, border crossing or the secret nightlife of Harry Reid?

No, what's causing the political commotion is the suggestion that the taxpayer-supported Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio have been and remain biased, and that their lopsided scaffolding is in need of adjustment.

Congressional agitators John Dingell and David Obey have asked Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) inspector general Kenneth Konz to open a formal probe into recent reports that CPB chairman Ken Tomlinson has been attempting to infuse PBS and NPR with some conservatism.

Evidently, Tomlinson has taken steps to wrest away the long-standing liberal control of the content that appears on the publicly bankrolled airwaves. The truth is that for decades the Left has reigned supreme over the public broadcasting domain. Now, as would be expected, royal players don't want to cede any TV or radio territory.

Liberals have been egged on by alarmist reports in the New York Times, Salon and other PBS-like outlets, which have implied that there's a Republican-backed movement afoot to take over CPB.

Konz has acquiesced to the wishes of aggrieved Dems and will apparently begin an internal review. The CPB inspector general told the Associated Press, "We are committed to performing a review and looking at the record and giving them the information they [Dingell and Obey] asked for."

Launching a review to determine whether PBS is liberal is like conducting an in-depth study on which faith is practiced at the Vatican, which gender watches more "Oprah" and which of the two Americas John Edwards lives in.

If the inspector general performs what Dingell and Obey have requested, the investigation will examine CPB's financing, employing and programming activities. But CPB has routinely financed, employed and programmed with a decidedly leftward tilt.

The underlying assumption of the investigation is one that's been frequently slung around: that just like the mainstream media, PBS and NPR are wholly objective in their reporting, and bias is in no way a part of their media equation.

After years of PBS and NPR being stacked with like-minded libs who promote lefty fare, Tomlinson dared to bring on "The Journal Editorial Report," a program that features the renowned right-wing fanatic Paul Gigot. If that wasn't enough to send shivers up progressive spines, it was on Tomlinson's watch that PBS began airing "Unfiltered," which is hosted by that fire-breathing, bow tie-sporting Tucker Carlson.

Tomlinson claims that he made the changes in order to bring some balance to the network. But Dingell, Obey and allies maintain that there's no need for balance at CPB because the CPB-controlled NPR already features folks like Mara Liason, Nina Totenberg, Terry Gross, Harry Shearer and Juan Williams.

With regard to PBS, there's one individual who is in a category all his own - the guy who put the BS in PBS: Bill Moyers. One of the things Tomlinson did that infuriated liberals was to contract a consultant to monitor the show "Now With Bill Moyers" for it's anti-Bush, anti-business and anti-American biases. Moyers left his namesake show in December 2004, and it was renamed "Now." The program, however, continued to carry on with its cockeyed content.

Moyers currently hosts another foreign-affairs show called "Wide Angle," but one would really have to be looking through a warped lens to see Bill Moyers as an objective source. Still, according to an interview Tomlinson gave to Bill O'Reilly, PBS president Pat Mitchell does see Moyers as an impartial guy.

Tomlinson was asked by O'Reilly if, when talking to Mitchell, he had characterized Moyers as being a liberal and Mitchell had disagreed with him. Tomlinson confirmed the exchange had taken place and told of how Mitchell described Moyers as "balanced." Like many of us, O'Reilly responded with a dumbfounded, "Did she really?"

I think the Dems may be on to something. It seems to me that an investigation is in order - of the liberal monopoly that has gripped CPB, PBS and NPR for decades.

Such a probe could result in the public questioning why tax dollars were ever used to prop up television and radio programming that would never make it in the free market.

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Copyright © 2005
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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