Defund the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In a sad attempt to push forward it’s ideological agenda, the editorial page of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has gotten into the habit of spreading misinformation and half truths. In a piece today entitled “Defund the CPB” an anonymous editorial writer (could it be Mr. Scaife?) makes a flimsy defense of former Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, claiming the sole reason for the controversy over Tomlinson was based on his effort to put “The Journal Editorial Report” on PBS.

His effort to put “The Journal Editorial Report” by The Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial page on the public airwaves drew the greatest scrutiny.

Pardon me but this is simply a load of crap. There are several reasons why Tomlinson was unfit to head the CPB but none of them in my opinion had anything to do with The Journal Editorial Report.

Here is a little reminder for our anonymous writer. In February 2004 Tomlinson decided, without consulting the rest of the CPB board, to spend $14,170 to monitor the program NOW for liberal bias. His excuse for not consulting the board was that the study was approved by CPB President Kathleen Cox. Unfortunately for Tomlinson this excuse did not hold water since Cox was did not become CPB President until five months after the study was commissioned.

The Times reported that, in a May 24 letter to Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND), Tomlinson stated he saw no need to consult the CPB board of directors about hiring an outside consultant to monitor bias on PBS’ NOW with Bill Moyers, because, he wrote, the contract was “approved and signed by then CPB President, Kathleen Cox.”

But the Times reported on June 22 that a copy of the contract obtained by the paper shows that Tomlinson signed it on February 3, 2004 — five months before Cox became CPB president. Tomlinson declined to comment to the Times on the apparent discrepancy.

CPB paid the consultant, Fred Mann, $14,170 to monitor bias on NOW. Mann worked for 20 years at the National Journalism Center, an organization founded by the American Conservative Union and M. Stanton Evans, a conservative columnist, that counts among the alumni of its training programs Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter.

Interestingly the results of this study, paid for by the American taxpayer, were never released but they were used repeatedly by Tomlinson as proof that PBS had a liberal slant. While this mystery study has yet to be seen by anyone other than Tomlinson, Senator Dorgan apparently saw the raw data and had this to say about it,

In a June 20 speech on the Senate floor, Dorgan said that he had received the “raw data” Mann provided Tomlinson and was “struck and disappointed” by the methods he used in conducting the study. For example, Mann labeled certain segments of the show “anti-Bush,” “anti-DeLay” and “anticorporation.” In addition, Mann classified all the guests appearing on NOW as either “conservative” or “liberal,” labeling Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as “liberal.” Dorgan inferred that Hagel had “apparently said something that wasn’t completely in sync with the White House” and concluded: “That is not the prism through which someone should evaluate whether something makes sense.”

Furthermore, in his effort to uncover liberal bias Tomlinson revealed himself to be the epitome of bias. This man who consistently claimed to be working to simply level the playing field at PBS actually took his journalistic training from one of the worst propagandists to ever have his shrill voice heard across our public airwaves, McCarthy protege Fulton Lewis.

What’s interesting about Lewis now is that two men at the forefront of the effort to rid public broadcasting of its presumed liberal bias both learned journalism at his knee. One, CPB chief Tomlinson, worked as an intern for Lewis. The other, William Schulz, whom Tomlinson recently named as one of the CPB’s two ombudsmen, was a writer for Lewis.

To some, the idea that these two are in charge of promoting objective journalism in public broadcasting is appalling. “It’s shocking and disgraceful,” says former New York Times columnist and reporter Anthony Lewis, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage during the McCarthy era. “If both men wrote for Fulton Lewis it means they were dedicated to an extreme-right position that should disqualify them from determining somebody’s objectivity.”

Ultimately though, it was the fact that Tomlinson consulted with the White House in his efforts to stack the CPB with conservatives which lead to his resignation. It would seem Mr. Tomlinson opted to quit the CPB before the results of an internal investigation into HIS BIAS were made public by CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz.

Why did he run away like a frightened little mouse? Well this little tidbit from Bloomberg may be a good hint,

Presidential adviser Karl Rove and Kenneth Tomlinson, then chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, discussed creating a “conservative” talk show and adding it to the public television lineup, the organization’s top investigator said.

Kenneth Konz, inspector general of the nonprofit company that oversees government funding of public TV, said in an interview yesterday that Tomlinson and Rove exchanged e-mails on programming and that Tomlinson also wrote to Rove about “shaking up” the agency and recruiting Republican staff.

So you see, what our Tribune-Review anonymous editorialist would like you to believe is another example of liberal bias at PBS is actually yet another in the ongoing lies and misdeeds linked to our President and his ethically challenged Deputy White House Chief of Staff in charge of public policy, Karl Rove.

Anonymous editor goes on to suggest that anyone misinformed enough to buy his stinking cup of drivel should consider breaking the law in protest.

If you don’t like paying for any of this speech, can you opt out by citing your right under the First Amendment not to be compelled by the government to help finance any point of view produced by a media outlet?

I have a better suggestion, forget about defunding the CPB, you can do the American public a larger favor by simply defunding Mr. Scaife’s rag of a newspaper.


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