- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

PBS executives must be reading their copies of “Slander,” “Bias” and “Arrogance,” conservative polemics that spell out a perceived liberal bias in the mainstream news, including PBS.

Now PBS is striking back, in its own way. The network has hired conservative Tucker Carlson to host a weekly public affairs show, according to Associated Press.

Mr. Carlson’s untitled program, to be produced by the District’s WETA-TV (Channel 26), is expected to debut in June.

Mr. Carlson, known for his shaggy hair and ubiquitous bow tie, said he’s aiming for something more compelling than the “eat your peas” television of most public affairs shows.

He also would like to get beyond the few dozen Washington officials who are regulars on political talk shows, he said.

“The standards are going to be pretty clear — tell me something I don’t know and no lying,” said Mr. Carlson, who will keep his day job on the venerable “Crossfire,” recently moved from CNN’s prime-time schedule to daytime because of low ratings.

The criticism over PBS’ perceived biases grew louder after the September 11 terrorist attacks, when the network debuted a weekly newsmagazine with liberal Bill Moyers, former press secretary to President Johnson.

After the 2002 elections, Mr. Moyers made these observations about the so-called Bush “mandate” the results yielded:

“That mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give up control over their own lives. It 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.”

“Moyers is the chief volcano of outrage over there,” Tim Graham, an analyst at the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center, told AP. He said he sensed PBS has been made defensive by the drumbeat of conservative criticism of Mr. Moyers.

Robert Coonrod, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said he had been concerned that some of Mr. Moyers’ work had crossed the line between reporting and advocacy and had expressed that to Pat Mitchell, president of the Public Broadcasting Service.

CPB is one of the PBS system’s chief funders, providing $22.5 million to the system for programming.

“I think we should have more perspectives on public television than we have now,” Mr. Coonrod said.

Mr. Coonrod said the CPB is likely to provide seed money to help start Mr. Carlson’s show. The organization does not fund “Now With Bill Moyers.”

Mr. Carlson, whose father once ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said he didn’t know enough about the system to know whether he’s being brought in for political balance.

Mr. Graham says most conservatives believe PBS could have done better than Mr. Carlson. “If you took a poll of conservatives and asked, ‘Which of the following would you like to have a PBS show?’ — he wouldn’t be in the top three or four,” Mr. Graham said.

“Maybe he’s what PBS wants. He’s not a red-meat thrower.”

Mr. Carlson answered Mr. Graham’s criticisms with an expletive.

“I’ve heard that before,” he said. “Maybe it’s because things amuse rather than enrage me most of the time.”

The Dead speak

The Grateful Dead’s surviving members sound off about Jerry Garcia’s death for the first time tonight on CBS’ “60 Minutes II.”

Mr. Garcia’s death in 1995 at age 53 brought a halt to the good-vibes touring machine that was the Grateful Dead.

In recent years, the surviving members regrouped to tour anew, but their chat with CBS’ Charlie Rose marks an emotional remembrance of their past and a look to the future.

The musicians take Mr. Rose to Haight-Ashbury, where the Grateful Dead formed, to share their thoughts.

The Dead’s Phil Lesh reveals how hard he and his fellow band mates tried to get Mr. Garcia to kick his drug habit.

“We tried desperately [to help him get off drugs]. It’s one of the biggest tragedies or the biggest bring downs of my whole life to know that he loved the drug more than he loved us,” he tells Mr. Rose.

Mr. Lesh says he knew one day, sooner rather than later, he would get the call saying Mr. Garcia had died.

“I felt like I had mourned him already when I got the call, and I had been mourning him for years,” Mr. Lash says.

“He was gone for years.”

“60 Minutes II” airs at 8 tonight on CBS.

The right bite

TV Guide Online

That creepy Barnabas Collins is getting a new lease on undead life.

WB is resurrecting the classic ABC vampire sudser “Dark Shadows” for fall 2004, Variety reports.

The franchise has been collecting dust since 1991, when NBC attempted its own “Dark Shadows” remake starring Ben Cross.

“Dark Shadows” originally aired as a daytime drama on ABC from 1966 to 1971, featuring Canadian actor Jonathan Frid as the 175-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins.

No word yet on who will be cast in the role for WB.

‘Queer’ parody

Leave it to Comedy Central, home of “The Man Show,” to come out swinging against the metrosexual demographic.

The network is producing “Straight Plan for the Gay Man,” a parody of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” to run early next year.

“Straight Plan” follows the “Flab 4” — four unkempt straight comedians — as they give a homosexual man tips on how to “pass” for straight.

Three hourlong episodes are set to air in February.

The Flab Four (Curtis Gwynn, Billy Merritt, Kyle Grooms and Rob Riggle) will transform three homosexual men, including a fashion salesman and a yoga instructor, into the typical straight male.

At the end of each installment, the comics will join their newly straight pals to see if they can pass while performing such traditionally macho activities as playing street basketball and eyeing women at a speed-dating event.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.


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