Public Broadcasting on the Bonfire

So once again the forces of the New Political Correctness are on the move. Now they have public television and radio in their sights. The House is trying to cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds both NPR and PBS. This funding cut will cripple even large broadcasters and kill smaller ones.

Though they deny that there’s any intent to “target” or “punish” public broadcasting, this is not a move that’s unprecedented. As pointed out in this Washington Post article, Newt Gingrich tried to get rid of the CPB for a long time.

Republicans have been whining about NPR and PBS for a while now, because they of course perceive them as biased. For Republicans, though if someone isn’t commissioning a four-movement symphony about the grandeur of the Free Market and George W. Bush, that person’s clearly biased. It’s not lack of bias they want, it’s flat-out conservative bias, like what they get in most mainstream media.

They also have argued that they don’t like public broadcasting, so why should their taxes pay for it? By all means, I’m all for a new system in which we get to decide what our taxes will and won’t pay for, ’cause I pay for a LOT of stuff I don’t like. Like, for example, secret aircraft to take secret prisoners to other countries to be tortured. I’d love to be able to put the kibosh on my taxes paying for that.

Apart from the fact that Conservatives see bias any time someone isn’t worshipping Reagan, they also feel that public broadcasting is biased precisely because it is unbiased. And because its shows aren’t just screamfests where the conservative star yells at the liberal guest and turns off his microphone. That, to them, is real, unbiased journalism.

So, like I say, since fascists have always enjoyed silencing any kind of dissent or non-propaganda, they’re on the march again. By all means let your congressman hear your voice in this matter. To find out more about the situation and what you can do, a good place to start is Hands off Public Broadcasting, a campaign started by MediaMatters. Act sooner rather than later; this could come up for a vote very soon.

This entry was posted in Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Public Broadcasting on the Bonfire

  1. Eric Foreman says:

    Right on. Write on. May the Force always be with you. Fez say “Hey”.

  2. Sleeping in Michael Jackson's Bed (But It's OK) says:

    Holy God in Heaven — you’re not actually saying that NPR and PBS are unbiased, right? You’re just pissed off and trying to make a point, right?

  3. David Thiel says:

    I’m the program director for a public television station, and I can tell you that in 18 years of experience, the one thing I’ve learned for certain is that bias is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve been chewed out by angry viewers of all political persuasions, and every last one has been convinced of my bias–which, oddly enough, happens to be the exact opposite of their own beliefs. Bias, as the term is bandied about these days, means “stuff I disagree with.”

  4. Sleeping in Michael Jackson's Bed (But It's OK) says:

    I agree that the current usage of the word bias is something akin to the current usage of the word “liberal” — a term that once had an objective meaning but is now used mostly as a pejorative insult detatched from almost anything related to its original meaning. But I don’t think that means we have to go along with it; we can use words correctly. I do think that bias can be, to a degree, objectively ascertained, and ascertained whether one is in agreement with it or not. In fact, this strikes me as the hard part — it’s easy to call out the other guy when you think he’s full of crap; it’s more difficult to call out people who are ostensibly “on your side” when you know they’re pushing bias and opinion instead of news, when it’s an opinion you share and feel deeply about.

    I don’t think that bias is, in truth, in the eye of the beholder, although I agree this is the way most people play it today. Bias is, to some degree, something that can be objectively ascertained and corrected, if one is brave enough to say: even if the bias is something I agree with, I’m not in charge of trying to get people to think like me. I’m in charge of reporting news.

    My problem with PBS and NPR (and Fox “News”) isn’t that I don’t agree with their biases — my problem is that, unrealistically and idealistically, I feel deeply that the news should be the news. This may not be an applicable argument for PBS — I don’t know that PBS has ever held itself out to be an ongoing news source, but rather a features program, but there again I really don’t know that I understand what PBS is about when it gets outside of the Arts. But NPR seems a more clear-cut case. In fact, as odious as this is, and as much as it physically pains me to even consider this, someone could make the argument that at least Fox News is a privately-owned, money-making operation, and therefore can spew out whatever propaganda it wants; but NPR, being tax-dollar supported and an extension, no matter how small or how out there, of the federal government, has less of an excuse.

    This is not my back-handed way of saying I think Fox News is “truer” or less biased or, God knows, something I agree with more than NPR. I just don’t understand what’s so difficult about reporting news and ending it there. This is today’s date. This is what happened today in Washington. This is what happened today in Egypt. This is what happened today in Los Angeles. And leave it there. All this other crap is not only extremely frustrating and dumbing us down beyond hope, but it’s harmful. You’d call it Orwellian, except even Orwell had to have Winston Smith beaten down with torture before he Came To Love Big Brother. We seem to have come to love lies a lot easier.

  5. Dave says:

    No, I don’t believe that PBS and NPR are overwhelmingly biased to the left. I regularly read blogs and news websites that are unapologetically left-slanted, and there’s a difference. What you describe as how news should be reported is what I get from both PBS and NPR on a regular basis. News presented as, more or less, What Happened, and opinion pieces that run the gamut from right to left. I’m not sure what all the other crap that harmful that you’re referring to is, but I haven’t encountered it.

  6. David Thiel says:

    I will admit the possibility of objectively identifying bias, but I’m still waiting for an objective observer. Studies alleging media bias (left or right) are funded by organizations with something to prove. People who look for bias invariably find it; it’s human nature to focus on supportive evidence and dismiss anything contradictory. In 18 years at this job, I have never once shaken anyone’s conviction when it comes to our alleged bias. I could reel off a dozen examples of guests who’ve espoused the caller’s own viewpoint, yet all that matters is that last night Bill Moyers (or Tucker Carlson) said something that pissed them off.

    I get a bit defensive on this issue. But when someone dismissively slags my organization as a biased news source and then later admits that they don’t know anything about PBS outside of arts programming, what am I to think?

    And yes, we consider ourselves a news source. “The Newshour” airs five nights a week, and its anchor, Jim Lehrer, has been repeatedly invited by both sides of the aisle to moderate the Presidential debates.