Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Israel-Firster Cheryl Halpern Named Head of Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Israel-Firster Cheryl Halpern Named Head of Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Article excerpt

Cheryl F. Halpern, a major Republican fund-raiser, has been elected the new chairwoman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). The private, nonprofit corporation, created by Congress in 1967, describes itself as "the largest single source of funding for public television and radio programming."

Halpern has served on the CPB board since 2002, and has criticized National Public Radio's Middle East coverage, calling it biased against Israel. She has overseen such U.S. government-funded media projects as Voice of America, Radio Marti in Cuba and Radio Free Iraq. Formerly chairwoman for the Republican Jewish Coalition, Halpern currently sits on the board of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a spinoff of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel's Washington, DC lobby. In 2001 she used her own personal funds to commission a review of anti-Semitism in Syrian textbooks.

Halpern was a delegate from the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations to the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women's Rights in 1995 in Beijing, and from 1998 to 2002 chaired the United Nations Advisory Council of B'nai B'rith International. Halpern's selection as CPB chair, warned the citizens' group Common Cause, may "mean more politicizing for public broadcasting."

Perhaps not surprisingly, Halpern's family has business interests in Israel. She is married to Fredrick Michael Halpern, a real estate developer born in Bayreuth, Bavaria, who is a member of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith as well as of AIPAC. The couple has three children.

In her new role Halpern will oversee distribution of the $400 million in funds for public radio and television stations that CPB receives from Congress. In mid-October, conservative House Republicans proposed that taxpayer support for CPB be eliminated as part of a cost-cutting effort to pay for repairing the damage from Hurricane Katrina. Indeed, for many years some Republicans have sought to permanently eliminate CPB's public funding.

At her 2002 confirmation hearing for a position on the CPB board of directors, Halpern suggested that journalists in public broadcasting need to be punished for editorializing in programs.

A spokeswoman for National Public Radio, Andi Sporkin, criticized the corporation under the chairmanship of Kenneth Y. …

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