Accuracy in Media

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June 21, 2005 Tuesday

Kelly Wallace, CNN:

For another take on this issue of proposed funding cuts at PBS, we’re going to talk next to Cliff Kincaid.

He is editor of the Accuracy In Media Report, and he says all $400 million in funding should be eliminated.

Mr. Kincaid, thanks for joining us on the phone today.

CLIFF KINCAID, ACCURACY IN MEDIA: Kelly, great to be with you.

WALLACE: Let me just ask you, following up on Mr. Wilson’s point—and I want to put up on the screen to our viewers, because some of the money that goes to PBS goes to television stations across the country, also to college stations. Some 112 state, municipal, educational or community organizations would be affected, 57 colleges or universities.

So what do you say to those people who say by cutting this funding, funding cuts of this size, you’re going to threaten college stations, university stations and small public stations across the nation?

KINCAID: I think all of that is exaggerated hysteria. Since the start of public broadcasting, the taxpayers have been forced to put over $8 billion—that’s with a B—$8 billion into this thing. They’ve gotten plenty of time to go independent and survive on their own.

Very little of the money that goes into PBS or National Public Radio is actually taxpayer funds anyway. They can go to private sources. NPR got a $200 million grant last year from Joan Kroc, the widow of the McDonald’s’ founder. They could go to people like billionaire George Soros or, for that matter, Kelly, Ted Turner, and ask him for some money.

That’s the way they should do it. We just can’t afford this anymore at a time of new media, satellite radio and TV, cable television. The people have plenty of choices. They don’t need to be forced to pay for choices that they don’t want or don’t want to enjoy or watch.

WALLACE: Here’s a question, Mr. Kincaid, because I know you have been quoted feeling that PBS is biased, has a liberal bias. But if you look at some polls that were done, I think even by groups associated with—other groups associated with public broadcasting back in 2003 found that a majority of Americans do not feel that public broadcasting is biased.

What do you say to that?

KINCAID: Well, I question who they talked to. I mean you just mentioned the Bill Moyers show. He had a show on PBS for three years. He’s a former mouthpiece for a Democratic administration. He is an admitted liberal partisan. Who did PBS have to balance him? Nobody.

Now, Ken Tomlinson, chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has tried to document the bias. We could have done so for no money. Everybody knows that that show was biased and there was nothing to counter it.

Tomlinson is coming under fire by the liberal elites who run PBS and NPR simply because he’s trying to document the bias and do something about it.

WALLACE: But let me ask you, Mr. Kincaid, because the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as you know, is supposed to be apolitical.

So is there any problem with hiring a consultant who has ties to some conservative groups to document a liberal bias? Is Mr. Tomlinson stepping into a political fray that some conservatives say, or have been charging, what PBS has been doing all along?

KINCAID: Kelly, my only gripe with what Tomlinson did was that we could have documented the bias for him for free. He didn’t need to spend money on a consultant.

But the fact is the public broadcasting establishment is political. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is not supposed to be apolitical or a buffer to protect PBS and NPR. In fact, the law under which the whole thing was set up says that all the programs funded by the CPB, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, should be produced with strict adherence to objectivity and balance.

Tomlinson is simply trying to make sure that all of these programs, and that his mission, that his job is to enforce the law and make sure that taxpayers are not getting ripped off.

WALLACE: All right, Cliff Kincaid with Accuracy In Media.

We have to leave it there.

We’ll be right back.

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