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Kenneth Tomlinson wants PBS to get Fox-ed

Reported by Chrish - May 25, 2005

Molly Hennenberg on Special Report today 5/24/05 reported on the attempted Foxification of PBS and the refusal of PBS President Pat Mitchell to give in to partisan interference.

Brit Hume introduced the segment: "Two of the major players in public television were out today making their case against changing the way PBS, the Public Broadcasting System, goes about its work. PBS has been under pressure from Ken Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to balance its political programming."

Molly said "Speaking today at the National Press Club, PBS President Pat Mitchell said public broadcasting does not and has not given in to political pressure to influence content."

(Video of Mitchell): "PBS has stood steadfastly resolved not to give in to those pressures and that resolve is rock-solid today."

Hennenberg (speaking over video of KT): "In part she's responding to efforts by Ken Tomlinson to add more conservative programming to PBS's line-up to balance what he calls liberal advocacy shows such as NOW, which used to be hosted by Bill Moyers. Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or CPB, which allocates tax money to PBS and National Public Radio, was appointed by president Bush. He told Fox News last week that he thought a variety of programming would appeal to more viewers."

(Video of Tomlinson): "On some level I'm mystified by the controversey, because how could any segment of the American people be opposed to common sense balance."

Henneberg: "Today Mitchell said she's not buying Tomlinson's premise that PBS lacks balance."

Video of Mitchell: " The facts do not support the case. Public opinion surveys including CPB's own survey are very clear that the American public, by a large majority, 80%, does not perceive bias in PBS's programming. And that seems to me to rest the case."

Hennenberg: "But Tomlinson says shows such as the Journal Editorial Report, which he championed and which contains panelists from the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page, offer an alternative to Moyers' show. For his part, today Moyers said he is a liberal but he isn't pleased with Tomlinson's assessment of his work on NOW as liberal advocacy. He called that assessment unfounded and unseemly."

(Video of Moyers): "The president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting shouldn't be attacking, or discrediting, ... individual journalists."

Hennenberg: "At the end of Pat Mitchell's speech to the Press Club today there was perhaps a revealing moment when a representative of the Press Club gave Mitchell a thank you plaque. Listen to what happens, and remember, she's the president of PBS."

(Video of Mitchell): "There's a problem, and I hope you won't take it as a criticism. (We hear "Oh I see it" off camera.) it says 'Corporation for Public Broadcasting'" and she breaks up laughing. "I think this kind of points up our problem, doesn't it?"

Hennenberg: "Ken Tomlinson's the president of Public Broadcasting. But the questions about 'what is balanced programming' go on and on. At the Press Club today someone asked Pat Mitchell why there isn't a show focusing on labor and consumer issues to balance out the Journal Editorial Report. Brit?"

Comments: Note the fact that Fox had interviewed Tomlinson on tape the week before and had a perfectly reasonable-sounding clip ready for the segment today.
Mitchell beautifully refused his frame that PBS lacks balance and that it is up to a Bush appointee to ride in and "reform" PBS.

Also note that Fox afforded next to no screen time for the incomparable Bill Moyers, denying their viewers his passionate defense of PBS.

Note also the repeated use of the code-word "balance", even by the anchor, sure to resonate with Fox viewers.

JYou can join the "Hands Off Public Broadcasting" campaign over at Media Matters.

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