Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Frank Rich, columnist for The New York Times, believes the proposed fund cuts for public broadcasting are a smokescreen. They'll never happen, because the real aim isn't to "kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them." The Bush administration wants to turn CPB into a propaganda arm for its ideology. Proving it is as easy as following the money, in this case the relatively paltry sum of $14,170 that Kenneth Tomlinson, Bush's hatchet man on the CPB board, paid to Fred Mann to monitor NOW. Stephen Labaton of the Times reported on the money trail, and Rich asks and answers the pertinent questions that arise:
Now, why would Mr. Tomlinson pay for information that any half-sentient viewer could track with TiVo? Why would he hire someone in Indiana? Why would he keep this contract a secret from his own board? Why, when a reporter exposed his secret, would he try to cover it up by falsely maintaining in a letter to an inquiring member of the Senate, Byron Dorgan, that another CPB executive had "approved and signed" the Mann contract when he had signed it himself? If there's a news story that can be likened to the "third-rate burglary," the canary in the coal mine that invited greater scrutiny of the Nixon administration's darkest ambitions, this strange little sideshow could be it.
After Mr. Labaton's first report, Senator Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, called Mr. Tomlinson demanding to see the "product" Mr. Mann had provided for his $14,170 payday. Mr. Tomlinson sent the senator some 50 pages of "raw data." Sifting through those pages when we spoke by phone last week, Mr. Dorgan said it wasn't merely Mr. Moyers's show that was monitored but also the programs of Tavis Smiley and NPR's Diane Rehm.
Their guests were rated either L for liberal or C for conservative, and "anti-administration" was affixed to any segment raising questions about the Bush presidency. Thus was the conservative Republican Senator Chuck Hagel given the same L as Bill Clinton simply because he expressed doubts about Iraq in a discussion mainly devoted to praising Ronald Reagan. Three of The Washington Post's star beat reporters (none of whom covers the White House or politics or writes opinion pieces) were similarly singled out simply for doing their job as journalists by asking questions about administration policies.
"It's pretty scary stuff to judge media, particularly public media, by whether it's pro or anti the president," Senator Dorgan said. "It's unbelievable."
Not from this gang.

Rich then details the ultraconservative bonafides of this gang, which is determined to make National Pravda Radio fair and balanced.


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