Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You don’t say?

Six senators and representatives are calling on the inspector general of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to investigate whether liberal bias and censorship prevented a documentary about Islam from being aired by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

In a letter obtained yesterday by Inside the Beltway, Kenneth A. Konz is being asked to determine why the $675,000 taxpayer-funded film, “Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center,” was not aired in April when it was scheduled to run as part of an eight-film series, “America at a Crossroads,” that examined challenges confronting the post-September 11 world.

“Islam vs. Islamists” was rejected by WETA, the Washington PBS station that oversaw the series, and PBS for failing to meet editorial standards.

The lawmakers are suspecting “censorship” of the film, which was produced by former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney Jr., a columnist for this paper.

They also cite reports indicating “conflicts of interest and in some cases sympathy to Islamist groups or apologists from among PBS officials and series consultants.”

On May 7, a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers wrote to CPB President Pat Harrison seeking similar answers. She responded 10 days later, but the lawmakers now tell Mr. Konz that “she made several claims that we have reason to believe may not accurately describe the facts and warrant your review.”

The most recent letter was signed by Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Tom Coburn and James M. Inhofe, both of Oklahoma; and Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and Peter T. King of New York, all Republicans.

Oregon Public Broadcasting is scheduled to air the program in August.

Like father

Expect the country’s vegetable growers to be upset all over again because of finicky eaters in the White House.

You’ll recall the first President Bush declaring: “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

The country’s broccoli growers grew furious over Mr. Bush’s statement and in protest shipped tons of the green stalks to the White House. Regardless, Mr. Bush refused to eat the vegetable and sent the fresh stash to area food banks.

Yesterday, it was his son, President Bush, providing too much information.

Participating in the first White House Conference on the Americas, Mr. Bush heard Maria Pachecho, an organic farmer from Guatemala, say that she had helped more than 1,000 rural women become vegetable-growing entrepreneurs.

“I’m not big on vegetables,” Mr. Bush told her.

How weird

We have to laugh at the current New York magazine interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric, who now acknowledges that there are days when she wishes she hadn’t made the move to the network from NBC.

“I’m human,” Mrs. Couric says. “I’m not going around, ‘Dee-da dee-da dee.’ I have days when I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what did I do?’ But for some weird reason, they don’t happen that often.”

Probably because she’s getting paid $45 million over three years.

Must be summer

Even the White House press corps is rushing to report that, despite it’s being summer, it’s hot outside.

“The main thing is that it was hot,” reads the first sentence of a White House pool report surrounding President Bush‘s arrival on the White House South Lawn.

As far as the last sentence of the report: “It was still hot.”

No more games

In light of the fact that a mere 14 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good job, Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, questions whether congressmen and senators deserve their automatic annual pay raise, or “congressional COLA” (cost-of-living adjustment).

“Under the circumstances, if we truly believe we deserve a raise, then we have an obligation, especially those of us fighting for fiscal responsibility, openness and accountability in Washington, to stand before the American people — in the full light of day — and say to them, ‘I think I have earned a pay raise, and here’s why,’ ” he says.

Mr. Burton has introduced legislation that would give members the opportunity for a straight up or down vote on the 2008 COLA. He calls it “showing respect to the people of this country who elected us in the first place. It’s time to stop the games and play straight with the American people.”

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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