- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

Public Broadcasting Service, the taxpayer-funded television station, is once again drawing fire from its critics after one of its news show hosts said the Republican Party victory signaled oncoming religious tyranny.
"If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what's coming. And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture," said Bill Moyers, host of the station's weekly news program "Now With Bill Moyers," in his latest commentary.
Critics say Mr. Moyers' commentary is one-sided and that the station, which is partially funded by the government, should have tried to counter Mr. Moyers' opinions by posting pieces that represented opposing views. The commentary can be found at www.pbs.org/now/commentary/moyers15.html.
"It is unfortunate," said Jim Weidman, with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. "You would expect some attempted balance in something that is publicly funded."
PBS officials said the site offers viewers and readers a chance to respond to Mr. Moyers and to share their dissenting and supportive opinions on the message boards.
"It's meant to be a dialogue, and viewers will find a diversity of opinion there," said George Abar, senior director for corporate communications for PBS. "As for PBS, we offer hundreds of programs and Web sites, so it's difficult to judge us by a single show or in this case a single commentary. People who watch us regularly know that public television is balanced with a full range of political views, from the right to left, from conservative to liberal and everywhere in between."
In his piece, Mr. Moyers said the Bush mandate "includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life."
Mr. Moyers said it is a "heady time" in Washington now that Republicans control the House and the Senate.
"These folks don't even mind you referring to the GOP as the party of God. Why else would the new House majority leader say that the Almighty is using him to promote 'a biblical worldview' in American politics?"
This isn't the first time PBS has come under fire by conservatives.
In 1994, Republicans who won control of Congress made abolition of public broadcasting a major goal, contending that it was a platform for a liberal agenda. That never panned out. Then, in 1999, Republicans renewed their attacks on PBS after reports that some stations were sharing donor lists with Democratic political organizations. It was learned later that Republicans were also getting the lists.
PBS is funded through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The CPB was created by Congress in 1967 to receive federal money and use it to encourage noncommercial radio and television. The corporation, in turn, created PBS for television in 1969 and National Public Radio a year later. It reroutes the federal money to the services, supports programs and provides money to almost 1,000 local public radio and television stations.
About 18 percent of PBS' revenue comes from state governments and another 16 percent from the CPB and federal grants. Membership dues account for 23 percent of the revenue, according to the PBS Web site.
Critics said they don't see that Mr. Moyer's latest commentary will renew calls from Republicans to cut the station's funding.
Matthew Felling, media director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, said it takes a lot more than one commentary to spur any action.
"This is an extreme case study," Mr. Felling said. "It takes a stream, a habitual tendency to present this type of opinion before it can amount to a threat to an administration. I don't think it will get affected by one such occasion."


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