Tuesday, June 21, 2005

GOP's War on PBS (Part I)

I recently read a blog that claimed Republicans were more moderate and reasonable... I laughed (no side is more or less then the other). There has never been more of an agenda driven push to consolidate power into the hands of one group of people and to turn this into a one party system. There has been the attempt to emasculate the judicial branch. There has been the purge of Democratic bureaucrats. There has been the intimidation of the private sector in DC to only hire Republicans. Now, they are trying to turn PBS and NPR in to a right wing propaganda machine. Because of a very few Republicans perception that public broadcasting is liberal, they are trying to re-invent it in a new conservative model. So, I have decided to write a multipart post on the GOP effort to eliminate of subvert the independence of public broadcasting.

Last week, House Republicans decided to cut all funding for PBS educational programming (e.g. Sesame Street). Apparently, they feel that free educational programming may take away from some of their cronies trying to make a buck. They would prefer that your kids watching TV are bombarded with 1 out of every 5 minutes of advertising for choco-marshmello sugar puffs and the latest kung-fu grip action figure. Is it any wonder that the majority of Americans don't think that the Republican controlled White House and Congress do not share the same priorities as the rest of us.

Additional to the slashing of PBS's budget, Republicans are also attempting to control the content of PBS programming because they feel it is too liberal. Again, I laughed.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (parent of PBS and NPR) has long contended that there is a liberal bias in public broadcasting. To prove this, he commissioned 2 separate surveys. Both of them came back showing the exact opposite. Tomlinson has continued to withhold the full survey findings, but what was released of the study by Terrance Group and Lake, Snell, Perry & Associated showed that
"both surveys confirm the same thing: The majority of the US adult population does not believe that the news and information programming on public broadcasting is biased. The plurality of Americans indicate that there is no apparent bias one way of the other..."

In fact, only 21% of the respondents thought there was a liberal bias, and 12% thought there was a conservative bias. Compare this to a November 2002 survey that showed that 31% of Americans thought that ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN had a liberal bias.

The study of a focus group
"helped confirm a common hypothesis: there is a core segment of the population that will always contend that all news media is biased no matter what. In other words, many people are simply 'jumping on the bandwagon' and saying PBS and/or NPR are biased only because they believe all news media are biased..."

the survey found that a full 48% of people found no bias one way or another with the next largest group having "no opinion"

The next important aspect is the coverage of the war in Iraq. Fewer that 15% of Americans say that PBS and NPR's coverage of the war and the Bush Administration is slanted.

But then, the survey gets even worse for Tomlinson. Over 50% of Americans feel PBS and NPR news is more trustworthy than other networks like CNN and FOX news (total number not yet disclosed by Tomlinson). Only 15% thought the news was less trustworthy.

As for the aspect of "family values" that Republicans are always talking about, 92% of Americans say PBS is a safe place for children to watch television (but Republicans are trying to kill childrens' educational programming). And 90% of Americans feel that PBS provides high quality programming overall. 89% feel PBS is a valuable cultural resource. 80% feel the programming reflect the diversity and character of America. 80% feel the programming is fair and balanced (lets see FOX get those numbers). 78% feel it is important for the federal government to support PBS/NPR financially so it can continue to offer its programming.

What about the fact that it is partially funded by taxpayers. Well, only 10% think the per capita expenditure of $1.30 is "too much" while 48% think it is "too little." 35% said it was "about right." For those that still believed that PBS/NPR had a liberal bias, 67% of them believed that the amount of money spent was too little or about right. Fewer than 20% of Republicans feel the funding is too much.

For me, my $1.30 per year is spent well on the advertising free family program and objective news programming on PBS. I urge everyone to support public broadcasting by contacting there Congressmen to insist that the funding for family programming be re-instated into PBS's budget.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The US Government should start running blogs and newspapers too. To get a jump start, they should go and buy the biggest ones. They should pay the biggest blogs something like $10,000 a month. After a few months, cancel the contracts of blogs that post stupid things. Yes this is sarcastic.

PBS was formed when homes had 3 channels to choose from. That was a long time ago.