Saturday, May 7, 2005

The old news: PBS is still a liberal monstrosity transforming the hard-earned dollars of many Bush-loving taxpayers into fire-breathing Bush-loathing programming. The new development: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting plans to seriously seek better balanced political views on PBS.

From the sound of the New York Times front page on May 2, they must have been waving smelling salts in the face of liberal reporters.

Kenneth Tomlinson, “Republican” chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was said to be pressing aggressively to correct “what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias.” The Times approach, pretending this issue is a gigantic question mark, makes about as much sense taking exception to what “conservatives consider the blue color of the sky.”

But remember, we’re talking about the New York Times. In this story, “Republican conservative” Tomlinson was opposed by the president of PBS, Pat Mitchell, unlabeled by the Times as either a Democrat or a liberal.

Nor was it fit to print her ties to liberal celebrities like Robert Redford or Ted Turner, or her role in the CNN “Cold War” documentary so biased conservatives have written entire books debunking it. Miss Mitchell’s first major initiative after being named PBS boss in 2002 was to give Bill Moyers an hour every week to bash conservatives.

So what has Mr. Tomlinson done to deserve Page One coverage in the New York Times? He plans to have two ombudsmen look over the content. Stop the bloody presses. Bill Schulz, a longtime Reader’s Digest editor, and Ken Bode, a longtime reporter for NBC and CNN and a former host of PBS’ “Washington Week,” will be moonlighting in part-time positions, and won’t even screen PBS programming in advance. But this is Crisis Time for the entrenched leftists at PBS who want no scrutiny whatsoever.

Messrs. Schulz and Bode would have had lots of work to do on the Moyers show “Now,” even after the 2004 election. In November, Mr. Moyers attacked Condoleezza Rice and her successor as national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, for their “pattern of ineptness,” and despaired as the president turned U.S. world credibility over to “two of the people who helped shred it. Both are known first and foremost for loyalty to the official view of reality, no matter the evidence to the contrary.”

Also in November, Mr. Moyers interviewed ultraliberal nun Joan Chittister about the evil American atrocities against Iraqi civilians. He asked: “Depending on the sources, Sister Joan, there have been 37,000 civilians killed in Iraq, or as many perhaps as 100,000. Why is abortion a higher moral issue with many American Christians than the invasion of Iraq and the loss of life there?”

Miss Chittister said yes, dropping bombs on civilians, including pregnant women, is “military abortion.” To which Mr. Moyers added: “Somebody said to me the other day that Americans don’t behead, but we do drop smart bombs that do it for us.” Is there a politician anywhere in America who made that nasty a commercial last year? Equating our military’s bombing missions with terrorist beheadings of civilians?

If you still don’t believe Mr. Moyers is the poster boy for liberal bias at PBS, take it from Current newspaper, the must-read publication for PBS insiders. It reported that in November 2004 a six-month review of Mr. Moyers found “of the 75 segments over six months that treated controversial issues like the Iraq war, the state of the economy and the corrupting influence of corporate money on politics, only 13 included anyone who spoke against the thrust of the segment.” That study didn’t make the New York Times story on “alleged” PBS bias. For Mr. Moyers, it is a great night of taxpayer-funded broadcasting when conservatives don’t get to rebut his personal attacks.

It should also be noted that while “Now” shrunk to a half-hour show, it continues in its liberal way, most recently with a big segment bashing the U.S. military over Abu Ghraib. Scrap any thought Mr. Moyers has stopped his omnipresent role on PBS, since he’s now hosting a global-affairs show called “Wide Angle,” where he recently ran down Pope Benedict XVI for stifling “dissenters.” PBS is not now, and never has been, a conservative network.

In the final analysis, Ken Tomlinson is trying to balance out the PBS image so it can get more and more federal funding. So it’s clear conservatives are not really getting the conservative agenda if Mr. Tomlinson succeeds.

Conservatives wish every taxpayer dollar destined for public broadcasting in a 21st-century media universe was returned home to their wallets and purses, where it belongs.

L. Brent Bozell III is founder and president of the Parents Television Council., and is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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