The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

30 May 2005

Both doctor and undertaker

I am starting to think that Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, sees his job as clearing a path for the eventual dismantling of the CPB. A couple of weeks ago, Tomlinson showed up on NPR's Diane Rehm Show to pitch his ideas for putting "balance" back into public broadcasting, and he kept trotting out Bill Moyers and NOW as exemplars of "liberal advocacy journalism," though at no time did he establish to my satisfaction, let alone Rehm's, that NOW was typical of PBS fare, nor did he explain particularly well why he, or CPB, thought The Journal Editorial Report, which he did allow might be "conservative advocacy journalism," was necessary to offset NOW.

I don't watch PBS anymore — I hardly watch any television anymore — but I am persuaded that NPR tilts somewhat leftward. I am also persuaded that I don't care; if it's obvious enough for me to spot, it's easy enough for me to filter out. The idea that CPB, which covers maybe one cent out of every dollar of NPR revenues, needs not one but two ombudsmen to counteract this sort of thing, strikes me as absurd: if there were widespread objections to NPR's editorial judgment, the listeners, who kick in most of those dollars, would be hitting them in the pocketbook, hard. Surely Tomlinson knows this, which makes me think that the appointment of those ombudsmen is mere windowdressing while the Administration works up an argument to eliminate CPB entirely.

Which wouldn't bother me that much either; the dissolution of CPB would mean that a few conservatives would get to slap themselves on the back, and that Diane Rehm would get to tell Kenneth Tomlinson to go to hell. Given the way that show went, I'm surprised she didn't.

Posted at 6:47 PM to Political Science Fiction


Unfortunately, most people aren't as able to "filter out" as you.

Also, I don't believe your conclusion holds that, "if there were widespread objections to NPR's editorial judgment, the listeners, who kick in most of those dollars, would be hitting them in the pocketbook, hard." Me and my family don't give to CPB/PBS/NPR because of their liberal slant. Now, if it were conservatively slanted, we'd likely open our pocketbooks. I think the amount public funding would remain somewhat the same, it would just change demographics.

Posted by: Don at 8:07 PM on 30 May 2005

Well, you're actually giving something to CPB: it's funded by, um, taxpayers.

And eventually, in the event of large-scale movements to the right, funding would likely reach equilibrium again; but in the interim, as the liberals bailed and the conservatives looked for signs that the changes were more or less permanent, NPR would have a pretty stormy time of it.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:39 PM on 30 May 2005

Unfortunately, I'm all too aware of where my tax dollars go.

I'm thumbing through my pocket Constitution. Where is it again, that it's the job of the federal government to fund a television or radio station or programs?

Posted by: Don at 9:27 PM on 30 May 2005

Another reason why the disappearance of CPB wouldn't bother me. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 9:35 PM on 30 May 2005

I think the clause that legislators, Republicans and Democrats alike, usually cite whenever they decide to overstep their authority is "promoting the general welfare". It's always for our own good.

Posted by: MikeH at 10:37 PM on 30 May 2005

I wouldn't be to upest that we stopped funding CPB with tax dollars, then maybe conservatives would stop their incessant whining that there exists at least one small part of the world where their massive corporate funding can't dictate reality to their whims.

Yes, Tomlinson is pretty straghtforward that he thinks real journalism is dangerous to his idealogy. In that I agree with him. Truth and evidence will always be the thorn in the paw of conservative "wisdom from on high", for that this unabashed (proud) liberal will always be thankful.

Persoanlly I think NPR tries ay to hard to avoid hurting conservatives thin skins for my taste. I was waiting for Rehm to call Timlinson an asshole. I know it was in the back of her mind as he dissed everything that good journalism stands for.

Posted by: bruce at 1:06 AM on 31 May 2005

Ahh yes, it's the "evil" corporations. Entities that don't even exist...how fitting to be the recipient of blame all that ills society.

If only journalists didn't go into journalism to "make a difference" but, rather, to just report the news without bias or slant. Until then, let the market place decide what slant should be broadcast and leave the government out of it.

Posted by: Don at 1:43 AM on 31 May 2005

"Incessant whining," Bruce?

I haven't heard actual "whining" about the LSM since Fox News came along. Since then the only whining I've ever heard has been about Fox News.

And Clear Channel.

And the blogosphere.

Posted by: McGehee at 7:56 AM on 31 May 2005