Accuracy in Media

In a front-page story on May 2, the New York Times accused the new Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of “aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias?” That was in the first paragraph. If you got to the 22nd paragraph, continued back on page 19, you found that the CPB chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson, was insisting that the programs it supports and funds adhere to the federal law requiring objectivity and balance. That law was passed back in 1967 and has been flaunted by public TV and radio ever since.

There was other information in the story, however, that caused us concern. The Times said that Tomlinson 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. The Times didn’t recognize the irony of a conservative publication getting federal support. We don’t believe you counter liberal bias with conservative bias, especially when we’re talking about American tax dollars. The real solution to liberal bias is to terminate federal funding for public TV and radio. That currently runs at $400 million a year.

The Times also reported that 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.” Public broadcasting doesn’t need or deserve any more financial support. And the problem isn’t the lack of political support. The problem is that it has too much political support. What’s needed is a congressional effort to de-fund public broadcasting. In a 500-channel universe, public broadcasting should survive on its own-if it can.

The Times reported that Tomlinson hired a consultant to review the NOW public TV program, which used to be hosted by liberal partisan Bill Moyers’s program. It said that one three-month contract cost $10,000, and that the reports about the show placed the program’s guests in categories like “anti-Bush,” “anti-business” and “anti-Tom DeLay,” referring to the House majority leader. The Times said that the reports found the guests were overwhelmingly anti-Bush.

We could have done that monitoring for free. Why does it take over $3000 a month to watch the Moyers show, analyze its content, and come to the conclusion he’s liberal and has liberal guests? We don’t need more spending from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, we need less.

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