"Big Bird Flies Right"

Statement by Common Cause President Chellie Pingree
on The New Yorker's PBS Story


The New Yorker's expose, "Big Bird Flies Right," documents several disturbing trends:

* The decision by CPB to fund two programs -- one hosted by Tucker Carlson, who speaks for conservatives on CNN's "Crossfire," and one moderated by Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, at the same time that "NOW with Bill Moyers," which receives no CPB funds, is cut from an hour to 30 minutes;

* What appears to be a Bush Administration litmus test for choosing members of the CPB. When CPB board candidate Chon Noriega, a UCLA media professor and co-founder of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, was interviewed by the White House, he was asked whether the CPB should intervene in programming "deemed politically biased." When Professor Noriega said intervention should be used in only extraordinary circumstances, the appointment process ground to a halt, and the White House has asked Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) to put forward another candidate.

*The observation by journalist Moyers, who told The New Yorker author Ken Auletta: "This is the first time in my 32 years of public broadcasting that CPB has ordered up programs for ideological instead of journalistic reasons."

There is a problem with the CPB. Whether it is a Democratic or Republican President who appoints them, CPB board members tend to be big political donors who often come with specific ideological agendas. This seems particularly true of the current board. For example, President George W. Bush's most recent CPB appointees, Gay Hart Gaines and Cheryl Halpern, and their families, have given more than $800,000 to the Republican Party and candidates since 1995. Both these appointees have backgrounds that raise questions about their suitability to serve on the CPB board. During her confirmation hearing last fall, Halpern indicated that she would welcome giving CPB members the authority to intervene in program content when they felt a program was biased. Gaines chaired Newt Gingrich's (R-GA) political committee GOPAC. Gingrich as House Speaker proposed cutting all federal assistance to public TV.

From Media Matters for America:

PBS's new weekly standard: Tucker Carlson:
An unfiltered Media Matters for America analysis of the new PBS host


No comments:

Post a Comment