Magazine article The American Prospect

Public Broadcast(igation)

Magazine article The American Prospect

Public Broadcast(igation)

Article excerpt

FOR MANY YEARS, CONSERVATIVES HAVE WARNED us that someday the commissars of political correctness would run amok and impose their opinions on us with our own tax dollars. What they didn't tell us is that they would become those commissars, and that their politically correct orthodoxy would be the Republican Party line. But that's exactly what the Bush administration's broadcasting apparatchiks appear to be doing at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

The official suspected of extending partisan political control over the public airwaves is Kenneth Tomlinson, a former Readers' Digest editor known for his right-wing opinions and Republican affiliations, including a close alliance with the president's chief political and policy adviser, Karl Rove.

Some executives who have observed Tomlinson's bureaucratic maneuverings closely warn that he is imposing a "rightwing agenda" on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR), while he insists that his critics suffer from paranoia and that his only goal is "balance,"

He means "balance" as in "fair and balanced."

Tomlinson is staffing the CPB with Rove loyalists. He recently hired

Mary Catherine Andrews, a White House communications official, to set up a new "office of the ombudsman" that will oversee public-TV and radio content. Commencing work on this project while still employed by Rove, she "helped draft the office's guiding principles," according to The New York Times.

One of the two new ombudsmen is William Schulz, another former Reader's Digest veteran known for his reliably Republican attitude when he ran the magazine's Washington bureau. The other is Ken Bode, a DePauw University journalism professor and retired TV correspondent who is also a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute.

That certainly looks like a fair and balanced team.

Tomlinson ousted the corporation's former president, Kathleen Cox, whose politics were deemed suspicious, replacing her with Kenneth Ferree, a partisan Republican who used to work at the Federal Communications Commission. Ferree is merely an interim appointee, however. His permanent replacement is likely to be Patricia Harrison, a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

While Harrison has no known qualifications for the post, she has earned lavish praise from her fellow Republicans. …

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