Democracy depends on an informed, involved citizenry. On Thursday, June 23, 2005, there was good news for Democracy. . . and there was bad news for Democracy.
That day, in an wonderfully bipartisan moment, the House of Representatives voted 284-140 to restore the slashed $100 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
That slash initally would have cut the CPB operating budget by 25%, effectively immediately. In addition, there is also a cut of $39 million for converting stations to digital programming (as required by the FCC), $50 million for PBS satellite technology, and $23 million for the “Ready to Learn” PBS children’s programming (supposedly in partnership with the Bush Department of Education to help with “No Child Left Behind”). The most damage would be to local stations, especially in more rural areas, where public broadcasting is treasured but donations are smaller. And if local stations can’t buy NPR and PBS programming, then it can all crumble away.
The vote on the 23rd restored the $100 million for the operating budget! YEAH! But not the rest.
Still, there was a breath of relief before it hits the Senate. It appears that the internet petitions, the noticeable appearance of Clarence the Big Red Dog on Capitol Hill, and the memory of watching Republicans not get re-elected after the mid-90's threat to CPB – all had their effect in the House that day.
On the dark side, the vote may also have been affected by the announcement that Patricia Harrison, the former Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee, had just been elected President of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that very morning! – taking pressure off the Republican Representatives.
It was, indeed, a sign. The mission to discredit and control the trusted (and therefore dangerous) press at PBS and NPR had been secured – from within. The allotted federal money would no longer be such an issue anymore.
For, you see, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, created in 1967 to be the firewall protecting public broadcasters from political pressure, was at last in the hands of seasoned propagandists.
It turns out that Patricia Harrison is so much more than a former Co-Chair for the RNC. Her ascension at CPB is “a Rove dream come true” according to Frank Rich of The New York Times.
Mary Catherine Andrews, her new Senior Advisor to the President, already conveniently in place since March 25, 2005, is also so much more than a former “White House staffer,” as she has been dubbed.
And Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the newly notorious Chairman of the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, sits in another Chair that defines his weightier purpose.
Records show that Harrison, Andrews and Tomlinson have already spent the last few years working for the White House, with unlimited resources available to them, coordinating their separate offices toward the same mission:
• to counter growing anti-Americanism worldwide,
• by strategically flooding international communications on all levels,
• with intensely shaped and coordinated images and words,
• to persuade others into believing that the policies and actions of the United States of America under George W. Bush are based on its positive values of freedom and democracy.
To put it more bluntly, their lives have been dedicated to propagandizing for the Bush administration.
This purpose has inhabited their every moment. They are the ultimate salespeople whose language has become one with the company pitch.
If they see, hear, read anything that doesn’t glorify Bush’s America on high, they automatically, instinctively seek to zap it – and replace it with Holy Hosannas for Bush’s “true intent” through “good stories.”
Uh-oh. Did you hear that sound? It was Democracy collapsing, suddenly blinded – not by the Light. In the Dark.
PATRICIA HARRISON, on October 2, 2001, became Bush’s Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
It sounds benign enough, but excerpts from her August 19, 2004 statement before the House International Relations Committee, reviewing the Recommendations of the 911 Commission Report, indicate a pattern of information manipulation:
Following September 11, 2001, in discussions with this committee, and in conjunction with our embassies, the Broadcasting Board of Governors* and others, we began to move forward with a strategy for America’s public diplomacy.
The foundation of our public diplomacy strategy is to engage, inform, and influence foreign publics in order to increase understanding for American values, policies and initiatives
Our investment in training for journalists and cooperative television provides influential professionals with an entree to American society, where they can see for themselves how media in a free society works and observe for themselves that America is a free country. . .
Television and video products continue to be powerful strategic tools. . .
In the wake of 9/11, we began to produce a stream of print and electronic materials describing for foreign audiences, in their own languages, the events of 9/11 and the need to fight against those who have committed or wish to commit terrorist acts, as well as the achievements made in that struggle, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. . .
More than 3,000 articles on terrorism have been published in the daily Washington File since 9/11. .
We continue to produce "good news" stories on reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. . .
[* Remember this.]
Those “balanced reports and documentaries” got some naughty notoriety when word got out that the pseudo-newscasts, called Video News Releases (VNRs), were also distributed to television stations within the United States, not just internationally.
When the General Accountability Office investigated these “prepackaged news stories,” it found that they were covert propaganda and therefore illegal.,
The White House Office of Legal Council put the word out: “Because GAO is part of the Legislative Branch, Executive Branch agencies are not bound by GAO’s legal advice.”
So, it seems that Patricia Harrison and her “good news stories” answer to a ‘Higher Law’ – above ‘Accountability’ – the White House. And that is ever so much more significant than merely being a former Co-Chair of the RNC.
MARY CATHERINE ANDREWS, Ms. Harrison’s Senior Advisor, was one of the Bush Oval Office “in crowd” right from the start– the Director for Democracy for the National Security Council, working with the infamously loyal-to-Bush Condoleeza Rice.
From that lofty position, Ms. Andrews was handed the reins of the White House Office of Global Communications in January 2004, just when Bush’s Iraqi invasion was looking a lot less like a liberation and a lot more like a very costly occupation, AND Bush was officially embarking on his campaign for re-election.
Though the White House Office of Global Communications wasn’t officially established until January 21, 2003, it was first announced eleven months earlier, on February 20, 2002. The New York Times reported:
“President Bush has decided to transform the administration's temporary wartime communications effort” [the Coalition Information Center, led by another Bush Mama Tiger, Karen Hughes] “into a permanent office of global diplomacy to spread a positive image of the United States around the world and combat anti-Americanism.”
The office, which has “no name, no director, and no budget” – but “Mr. Bush has said money will be no obstacle” – would “coordinate the public statements of State, Defense and the other departments, including Voice of America*, to ensure that foreign correspondents in Washington, as well as foreign leaders and opinion-makers overseas, understand Mr. Bush's policies.”
This hasty announcement about an unbudgeted and unnamed Office was in print one day after The New York Times also reported on another administration Office, the newly-discovered Office of Strategic Influence at the Pentagon, launched immediately after 911 to plant “news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers . . through outside concerns that might not have obvious ties to the Pentagon.”The news of this dangerous misuse of legitimate international media meant the Bush administration needed to immediately diffuse and distract. So, the no-time-to-name Office that would spread the good news on Bush’s U.S.A. was born later that day (and was in the paper the next), while the nasty, lying, cheating Pentagon Office (of “SI”) was shut down within a week.
Five months later, the nice Office got a name: “The Office of Global Communications,” of course.
Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said the “OGC” would communicate to the world “what America is all about and why America does what it does. . . This is a sign of the importance the President attaches to how other nations see the United States.”
Eventually, the January 2003 Executive Order said the OGC – and its Director – would:
. . ensure consistency in messages that will promote the interests of the United States abroad, prevent misunderstanding, build support for and among coalition partners of the United States, and inform international audiences. . .
. . . coordinate the formulation among appropriate agencies of messages that reflect the strategic communications framework and priorities of the United States. . . [And]
. . .assist media personnel in obtaining access to information, individuals, and events that reinforce strategic communications objectives of the United States and its allies. .
Ah, another spinmeister job.
Now, this little known Mary Catherine (often written “M.C. Andrews” and referred to as a “he” by an unaware press) has gotten some publicity of late for being the “White House staffer” commissioned by Ken Tomlinson to draft the guidelines for his two new Ombudsmen positions at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Both M.C. and Ken have denied that these guidelines were composed while she was still at the White House, but an article in The New York Times on June 18, 2005 reports that leaked email records indicate there was correspondence from CPB to Andrew’s White House office regarding the ombudsmen, and instructions to CPB from “White House officials” regarding Andrew’s new job title.
Busted. Getting caught in a lie is an unusual slip in the spin.
Mary Catherine Andrews’ history of diligent dedication to the George W. Bush Presidency and its shining image is then in alignment with Patricia Harrison’s.
To complete the triumvirate, remember the two coordinating entities asterisked previously – The Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Voice of America.
The BBG is the “independent, autonomous entity responsible for all U.S. government and government sponsored, non-military, international broadcasting” which supervises the Voice of America, as well as Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, and several others.
KENNETH Y. TOMLINSON is the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. This is his other Chair.
Coincidentally, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is supposed to be a firewall between the U.S. government’s international broadcast services and administrative foreign policy agencies - to protect journalism from political interference.
The Voice of America, its hallmark service, made history and established its gutsy reputation when Edward R. Murrow first turned on the mike on February 25, 1942 -
“The news may be good or bad. We shall tell you the truth.” Murrow believed in providing hope by demonstrating freedom and democracy. “To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be truthful.”
Sadly, that hasn’t always been everyone’s priority in international broadcasting.
Ken Tomlinson himself served a previous stint as Director of the Voice of America, appointed by Reagan in 1982, but that ended abruptly with his resignation in 1984, amidst a scandal, when it was discovered that he was one of the six officials authorized by its governing board, the US. Information Agency, to remove “biased” individuals from its speakers list. Walter Cronkite, Ben Bradley, Ralph Nader, Coretta Scott King, and David Brinkley were among the names blacklisted. (Michael Winship, Messenger Post, refers to a February 21, 1984 Associated Press interview with the USIA Assistant Director for Management, Policy & Coordination.)
Tomlinson quickly returned, serving on the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting from 1986 to 1994, alongside Karl Rove, with whom he maintains a handy, close friendship.
And now, since August 1, 2002, he sits over a bigger array of international broadcasting for the United States. Where the White House apparently wants strong oversight.
On September 20, 2001, Voice of America aired 22 seconds of a rare and timely interview with Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Taliban and a defender of Osama bin Laden. This promptly resulted in the removal of veteran Acting Director Myrna Whitworth and the valued Director of the Pashtu service. Demanding phone calls were received by the Broadcasting Board of Governors from the State Department and National Security Council.
On September 3, 2002, one month after Tomlinson was confirmed Chair of the BBG, David Jackson, a former writer for Time Magazine who left journalism to work at the Pentagon’s DefendAmerica.gov, was named the new VOA Director, replacing the VOA Director who replaced Myrna Whitworth.
Jackson must be doing exactly what the Bush administration wants, because he has not been replaced – but the traditional presentations of U.S. international broadcasting have been.
On February 27, 2003, Tomlinson testified before a “Public Diplomacy and Islam” Hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was there specifically to promote the youth-oriented, pop Arabic and American music stations, featuring bursts of headline news rather than in-depth reporting.
With the corporate business drive of BBG Board member, Norman Pattiz, CEO of the largest U.S. commercial radio operation, Westwood One, and the conservative fortitude of Tomlinson, the BBG has reallocated Voice of America funds and frequencies to Westwood One’s new glitzy pop networks, Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television. This way, the U.S. can broadcast internationally, but circumvent the accountability and standards of the VOA Charter, as well as avoid an annual content analysis. At the same time, VOA Arab language services have been shut down.
VOA newsrooms began to receive memos from David Jackson, directing them to develop more “positive stories” that emphasized the U.S. successes in Iraq, to cut back on reports on car bombings, and to remove photos from Abu Ghraib from the VOA website.
They were told to “report more favorably on the actions of the Bush administration” and “deliberately try to enhance the United States’ reputation around the world.”Hmm. Pushing the pleasant perspective again.
As the pressure increased at the VOA, and was met with resistance, broadcast hours were cut, positions were cut. On July 1, 2004, VOA Director David Jackson proved how serious he was by suddenly removing VOA News Director Andre de Nesnera, a well-respected journalist who had received the “Constructive Dissent Award” from the American Foreign Service Association in 2002 for his determination to preserve the integrity of VOA news broadcasts.
Within days, approximately 460 VOA staffers signed and delivered a petition to Congress, which accused the Broadcasting Board of Governors under the Chairmanship of Kenneth Tomlinson of “dismantling the nation’s radio beacon” and broadcasting “less news, information and analysis to fewer countries for fewer hours in fewer languages. . . at a time when the ability of the U.S. to speak to the world in a clear, effective and credible voice is more crucial than ever.”
Congress did not investigate properly, and the protest failed. And the political punishment continued.
But when Director Jackson announced this spring that the VOA would be moving part of its late night news division to Hong Kong and hiring eight writers there, it got the attention of Democratic Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee.
In June 2005, fourteen Senators signed a letter taking Director Jackson to task for his outsourcing move.
“We find it difficult to believe VOA will be able to satisfy its mission of projecting `significant American thought' through non-American citizens.”
So, it is important to recognize that Bush-appointed Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is also actively blowing out the light of the American free press working abroad – representing real freedom, not staged; real hope, not hype; real information, not dangerous distractions – for people of many languages and cultures.
[AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY, CLEARLY LABELED:]
So George W. Bush, and his family and friends, can continue to gain power over the resources of the world. Or... who knows? Well, we have a right to know.
On June 1, 2005, journalist David Sarasohn wrote, “Along with the always-useful ‘Follow the money,’ Watergate left us another message: When the White House goes on the attack against reporters, it’s probably because there’s something it doesn’t want reported. . .”
And the only way they can get away with it is if we don’t care to know. So, KNOW BUSH.
1967 The CPB was established by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 with a mission to act as a firewall protecting public broadcasting from political pressure – while collecting and dispersing federal funding to develop programs of “high quality, diversity, creativity, excellence, and innovation.... from diverse sources. . . unafraid of “creative risks. . .” with “instructional, educational, and cultural purposes. . ” while still maintaining “objectivity and balance...”
Ask Bill Moyers. He was there.
1968 After an internship with the infamous and powerful Fulton Lewis, Jr., the Rush Limbaugh of the McCarthy era, master of the commie-paranoia smear, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson begins an almost 30 year career (with a break for the VOA fiasco in the 80's) at The Reader’s Digest, in time to counter rising doubts about America’s presence in Vietnam.
Sep 8, 00 Clinton's appointee, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson is confirmed as a CPB Board Member. (Presidential appointments to the Board are required to fulfill bipartisan guidelines of having no more than 5 members of one party on the Board.
Jan 02 After 9/11 PBS President Pat Mitchell recruits Bill Moyers to host a Friday night news show that would be both tough and fresh. Moyers later explains, “I wanted to do something about September 11 that made me feel pertinent and useful.” CPB refuses to fund the show, so PBS does, with help from Mutual of America Life Insurance and other foundations.
Aug 6, 02 Cheryl Halpern is given a recess appointment by Bush to CPB Board. The former Chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, she and her husband have donated more than $324,000 to Republicans since 1989.
Nov 8, 02 Bill Moyers delivers a post-midterm election commentary on the November 8 NOW:
“. . . the entire federal government — the Congress, the Executive, the Judiciary — is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate. That agenda includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give up control over their own lives. . .the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. . . giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. . . secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what's coming.”
Nov 19, 02 The CPB Board responds to Bill Moyers’ November 8 post-election commentary with a Resolution reaffirming its commitment to “treat subjects of a controversial nature in a fair and balanced way.”
02-03 Survey of opinion leaders by Erdos & Morgan, a major market research firm, finds that America’s most influential people held that the NewsHour, Frontline, NOW, and Washington Week were the four most credible public affairs shows on TV.
Opinion surveys by The Tarrance Group with Lake Snell Perry & Associates finds that “Fewer than 15% of Americans say that PBS and NPR coverage of the war and/or the Bush administration is slanted.” And “Over 50% of Americans say that the news and information programming on PBS is more trustworthy than the news and programming from other sources.”
Dec 11, 02 Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne, invites PBS President Pat Mitchell over for tea, where Michael Pack, Republican documentary producer and Bush-appointee to National Council on Humanities, surprises her with a pitch for a series of hour-long TV programs for middle-school-age children, hosted by Lynne Cheney and called “Lynne Cheney’s History Book.”
Jan 27, 03 At a follow-up meeting at the PBS offices with Michael Pack and John Wilson, PBS Co-Chief Program Executive, it is explained to Pack that it would be inappropriate for the wife of the 2nd highest ranking government official to have her own show on public television.
Feb 19, 03 Michael Pack is named Senior Vice President, Television Programming at CPB.
March 03 The White House Office of Presidential Personnel interviews Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle’s recommendation for the CPB Board, Chon Noriega, a UCLA professor of TV, Film & Digital Media. He is asked if it was appropriate for the CPB to intervene in programming deemed politically biased. His basic answer is “only in extraordinary circumstances.” His not appointed.
June 9, 03 At PBS Annual Meeting in Miami, a panel is shown a clip of Moyers’ February 28, 2003 commentary, in which he describes how the American flag had been “highjacked and turned into a logo– the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism.” To Bush & Cheney wearing flag pins during the State of the Union address, he asks, “How come? No administration’s patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies.” Afterwards, CPB President writes to PBS President Pat Mitchell telling her they need to discuss Moyers commentary.
June 27, 03 Pat Mitchell writes back that she fully supports Moyers’ 1st Amendment right “to give his opinions on all matters.”
July 14, 03 Current, a public broadcasting newsletter, reports on an email from Moyers, who thinks the 26 commentaries in 18 months aren’t the real problem; it’s the fact that NOW covers stories others won’t touch. “Powerful vested interest, of course, don’t like strong, credible, fact-based truth telling, and they turn to their cohorts in Congress to protest.” Moyers suspects NOW’s reporting on the FCC new ownership rules “really stirred the hornet’s nest and made some very powerful people uncomfortable.”
Sep 24, 03 Tomlinson named Chair of CPB Board. He states, “As the United States is challenged at home and abroad, public broadcasting is a vital tool for sustaining democratic values.”
Nov 4, 03 At confirmation hearing Cheryl Halpern complains to Senate Commerce Committee that the CPB doesn’t have the authority to initiate penalties for biased and imbalanced news reporting. When Trent Lott calls Moyers’s commentary “the most blatantly partisan, irresponsible thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Halpern agrees. "Going back to my BBG days, we were able to remove physically somebody who had engaged in editorialization of the news.”
Dec 3, 03 Tomlinson writes to PBS Pat Mitchell, “Now with Bill Moyers does not contain anything approaching the balance the law requires for public broadcasting.”
Dec 8, 03 PBS Pat Mitchell has diplomatic breakfast with CPB Board; one Board member screams, “You’ve got to get rid of Moyers!”
Dec 10, 03 Cheryl Halpern and Beth Courtney are confirmed by Senate to the Board.
Dec 26, 03 Bush gives recess appointments to Gay Hart Gaines (former Chair of Gingrich’s GOPAC, donated with husband more than $491,000 to Republicans since 1989) and Claudia Puig, both from Florida, both previously nominated but not confirmed.
Jan 4, 04 Public Radio Ethics Guide Updated.
Feb 3, 04 Tomlinson secretly signs contract with consultant to “monitor the political leanings” of the guests on NOW.
Feb 19, 04 Moyers announces he will retire after the November 2004 elections. He feels “compelled” to write a book about Lyndon Johnson, with whom he worked before and during his presidency. PBS President Pat Mitchell vows her commitment to the program continuing with David Brancaccio.
Mar 1, 04 CPB announces “America at a Crossroads,” investing $20 million into programs with post 911 themes even the subject has already been covered extremely well.
Jun 18, 04 In response to call for balance, PBS begins “conservative libertarian” Tucker Carlson Unfiltered. It lasts exactly one year.
July 1, 04 Kathleen Cox becomes new CPB President and CEO (elected Jan 27, 2004).
July 21, 04 While coordinating with Karl Rove to kill a proposal to increase public broadcasters on CPB Board, Tomlinson emails new CPB President Kathleen Cox: “The White House has issued guidance. WH officially opposed to the Burns amendment.”
Aug 5, 04 Huge CPB press release announcing conservative Journal Editorial Report. Michael Pack, Sr. VP of Programming states, “America faces big issues, not only in Iraq but as a superpower. We believe Americans want knowledge as well as straight news; understanding as well as information.” Tomlinson arranged for the $5 million initial funding, then Shell Oil stepped in.
Sep 17, 04 Journal Editorial Report starts.
Sep 21, 04 Tomlinson reelected Chair.
Later that same day, Tomlinson hosts a “Public Forum” for comments on the services and programs on public broadcasting. He opens, followed by 9 speakers, allowed 10 minutes each:
• Three are critical of NPR’s supposed Anti-Israeli bias;
• One is advocating more conservatives on PBS. He is from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a group with Neoconservatives throughout its Board and staff, involved with Project for the New American Century, including Tucker Carlson’s father;
• One is an advocate for new low wattage music stations;
• One is from Common Cause, concerned about protecting “public broadcasting’s ability to speak truth to power regardless of who is in power”;
• Three express their gratitude for Native American and Asian stations.
An odd group, strangely stacked.
Dec 7, 04 Tomlinson writes to CPB President Kathleen Cox pressing her to interview Atty General John Ashcroft’s chief speechwriter, Ed McFadden, for job as Sr. VP for Communications, reminding her that McFadden has “the strong support of the White House.” Ms. Cox is not interested.
Dec 17, 04 Bill Moyers signs off, leaving NOW to David Brancaccio. In his career at PBS, he won more than 30 Emmys, 9 Peabodys, and 3 Polk Awards. NOW will be cut from an hour to a half hour show.
Dec 31, 04 Talk of the Nation’s Neal Conan admits to receiving large amount of emails regarding election hearings in Ohio, but conservative guest pooh-poohs issue and subject is dropped (evidence of either NPR not having a liberal bias OR of a chill on full reporting that reflects badly on the Bush administration).
Jan 5, 05 Deputy General Counsel to PBS writes to the 3 biggest producing stations in NY, Boston and Washington D.C. to beware of the new CPB contract, warning that it could give CPB editorial control, infringe on First Amendment rights and lead to a forced balance in each and every show.
Jan 26, 05 New Education Secretary Margaret Spelling writes to Pat Mitchell at PBS, asking that episode of “Postcards from Buster” about a maple farm be pulled because of 2 lesbian characters.
Feb 2005 At a meeting with NPR President Kevin Klose, Tomlinson explains that CPB will have two ombudsmen, one liberal and one conservative.
Mar 11, 05 Final “Daily Fact” - "El Salvador's Cultural Heritage Protected" - published by Mary Catherine Andrews at Office of Global Communications.
Mar 14, 05 Ken Ferree, Bush-appointed FCC Commissioner who engineered rules allowing greater consolidation of media ownership, named Chief Operating Officer of CPB.
Mar 17, 05 Tomlinson emails CPB President Kathleen Cox and instructs her to send to Mary Catherine Andrews at the White House Office of Global Communications “anything you have on ombudsmen” and the bios of the two candidates. “She’s promised to help me produce something by Tuesday.”
Mar 22, 05 Tomlinson emails Cox complimenting Andrews’ work on ombudsmen press release and talking points.
Mar 23, 05 Tomlinson emails Cox telling her that White House officials insist Andrews job title at CPB be “Senior Advisor to the President.” A follow up email says, “I promise she will be worth her weight in gold to you.”
Mar 25, 05 Mary Catherine Andrews on the payroll at CPB.
Apr 5, 05 CPB establishes Ombudsmen’s Office “to ensure it represents high standards in accuracy, balance & objectivity”, naming William Schulz and Ken Bode as first two CPB Ombudsmen:
William Schulz worked with Ken Tomlinson at Reader’s Digest for almost three decades, and with him before that as a writer for the vicious right wing radio broadcaster, Fulton Lewis, Jr. At Reader's Digest, he is known for loaded, alarmist, partisan reporting, pushing Cold War fears.
Ken Bode is a Fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, which just published The NeoCon Reader. He was host of the PBS show, Washington Week in Review from 1994 to 1999 when he was fired. As Dean of the Medhill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, the “breathtakingly blunt” & “justifiably proud” journalist apparently grew “nasty” & “sarcastic,” announcing the Medhill graduates as “Medildoes,” two years in a row. The 2001 graduation was marked by 9 graduate journalism students refusing shake this Dean's hand because of the loss of good faculty during his leadership.
Unlike what Tomlinson told NPR President Kevin Klose, neither of the ombudsmen is liberal.
Apr 8, 05 Late on a Friday evening, in an unexpected move, Tomlinson announces that CPB President, Kathleen Cox has completed her contract and is stepping down. A man who has admitted to not listening to NPR or watching PBS, the new CPB Chief Operating Officer Ken Ferree, is named Interim President.
Apr 18, 05 PBS’s new Editorial Standards Review Committee meets. Marvin Kalb and Carl Stern report that CPB’s push for ideological balance has compromised PBS’s editorial integrity. In new CPB/PBS contract, CPB requires PBS to use CPB research and analysis to formulate programming. Mitchell refuses to sign until it is modified.
Apr 22, 05 The Washington Post article, in “PBS Scrutiny Raises Political Antennas,” states that there have been “dismissals or departures in recent months of at least three other senior CPB officials, all of whom had Democratic affiliations.”
May 2, 05 The New York Times reports “Republic Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Bias”, a lengthy article revealing Tomlinson’s partisan leadership at CPB, including a secret $10,000 contract with an outside consultant to report on “anti-Bush,” “anti-business,” and “anti-DeLay” content on NOW with Bill Moyers. According to former CPB Board member, Christy Carpenter, Tomlinson has a “vehement dislike,” for Moyers.
May 3, 05 At NPR’s annual Members Meeting, station representatives vote to endorse a resolution calling on CPB to “do nothing to diminish the firewall,”“refrain from interfering in constitutionally protected content decisions,” and to “defer to the reasonable and legitimate choices of broadcast professionals to build services of value within the local communities they serve.”
May 4, 05 Despite receiving emails of the May 1 headlines from all major London papers announcing July 2002 Downing memo scandal, Talk of the Nation’s Neal Conan discusses that day's British elections - with people in the UK - without mentioning the Blair/Bush scandal (more evidence of either no liberal bias OR a chill on full reporting that reflects badly on the Bush administration).
May 6, 05 Tomlinson appears on NPR’s On the Media, interviewed by Bob Garfield, who is pretty direct.
“Ken, aren’t you confusing liberalism with journalism? The two have a lot in common – suspicion of authority, sympathy of the little guy, the instinct to reform, and so on. . . That isn’t ideological bias, Ken. It’s journalism. . . Aren’t you in fact playing politics with something that was not a political matter to begin with?”
“I simply disagree with you, and I think you’re the one playing politics by the way you’re framing the question.”
Tomlinson also claims his only involvement with Rove over the CPB Board membership measure was to ask Rove if he was going to be supporting it. “And he said no. End of involvement.”
May 10, 05 Tomlinson writes his own article in The Washington Times (the quasi-newspaper owned by theocratic conservative Korea-gate star and self-proclaimed Messiah, Reverend Sun Myung Moon). He claims:
“The left-wing bias of NOW . . was unhealthy. . . it jeopardized essential support for public TV. This was brought home to me in November 2003 by a phone call from an old friend complaining about Mr. Moyers' bias and the lack of balance on the Friday evening lineup. He explained the foundation he heads made a six-figure contribution to his local public television station for digital conversion. But he declared there would be no more contributions until something was done about the network's bias. He also explained it was my responsibility as CPB chairman to preserve public support for public broadcasting by doing something about the bias. On reflection, I decided he was right. So, the rest is history.”
May 11, 05 Congressmen David Obey and John Dingell formally request an investigation into Tomlinson’s actions by Kenneth Konz, Inspector General of CPB.
May 12, 05 Tomlinson appears on The O’Reilly Factor. O’Reilly asks, “Now, you said that you have never had any conversations with any Bush administration officials about PBS. Is that true?” “That’s true,” replies Tomlinson.
May 13, 05 Tomlinson appears on Tucker Carlson Unfiltered. In response to CPB commissioned studies reflecting an overwhelming trust in public broadcasting, Tomlinson states, “Mark Twain said figures lie and liars figure.” He also explains that the ombudsmen were brought on in response to Alaska Senator Ted Stephens’ complaints about a PBS show on oil drilling in Alaska, and Senator Brad Sherman’s presentation at the public forum complaining about NPR’s anti-Israeli bias.
Tomlinson says “we need more cultural public broadcasting” (i.e., less journalism).
May 15,05 Bill Moyers gives closing address at National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis, Missouri.
“The quality of democracy and the quality of journalism are deeply entwined.”
“One reason I’m in hot water is because my colleagues and I at NOW didn’t play by the conventional rules of belt way journalism. . . and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news.”
“I came to see that ‘news is what people want to keep hidden and everything else is publicity’. that investigative journalism could not be a collaboration between the journalist and the subject.”
“The more compelling our journalism, the angrier the radical right of the Republican party became. That’s because the one thing they loathe more than liberals is the truth. And the quickest way to be damned by them as liberal is to tell the truth.”
May 18, 05 Tomlinson appears on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show. When asked for an example of Moyers’ liberal bias, he can't site one. He patronizingly claims to be a big fan of Diane’s but by the end of the hour, he is advocating a return to classical music, because music is important. In many markets, Diane’s immensely informative and popular show has replaced music programming. Tomlinson sounds threatening.
May 22-5, 05 At its 25th annual convention, in London this year, the Organization of News Ombudsmen refuse membership voting rights to CPB’s Bode and Schulz because CPB does not disseminate news.
May 24, 05 Tomlinson explains in letter to Sen. Byron L. Dorgan that the consulting contract for monitoring political bias was “approved and signed by then CPB President Kathleen Cox.”
May 25, 05 When Doug Fabrizio, of Salt Lake City’s public radio station KUER, discusses Tomlinson on his local public affairs show, “Radio West,” he asks NPR’s Brooke Gladstone, co-host of On the Media, if people are making too much of this notion of a “conservative coup.”
“I wouldn’t say that they’re making too much of it. This strategy actually could be more dangerous to public broadcasting than the big gun efforts to just smash the thing. This is using honeyed tones to essentially influence programming by holding hostage its funding. That could be a very effective strategy. People have a right to be concerned.”
Jun 9, 05 House Appropriations Subcommittee adopts measure to cut $100 million from CPB’s $400 million budget, eliminate another $110 million for digital conversion, updating satellite technology and funding for children’s programming coordinating with “No Child Left Behind” (ending funding for Postcards from Buddy), with an aim to cutting all government funding to CPB within two years.
Jun 05 Donna Gregg, CPB General Counsel, and Nancy Rohrbach, Sr. VP for Corporate & Public Affairs, resign from CPB. Rohrbach noted that Tomlinson repeatedly ignored her advise. Several CPB officials were upset when Tomlinson refused to denounce the House subcommittee vote to slash funding.
Jun 15, 05 Former NPR Morning Edition host, Bob Edwards, urges an audience in Fairbanks, Alaska, to “Get out pen and paper and let (Congress) have it.” Despite being deprived of a 25-year celebration at the show he started, Edwards tells the crowd, “I love NPR, I will always love NPR. I encourage you all to continue to support NPR. It’s a better outfit than the people who are running public radio.”
Jun 16, 05 The measure to slash CPB funds is voted forward out of Committee almost as-is, only returning the two years advance budgeting notification.
The NY Times reports that CPB’s Inspector General is investigating $14,700 in payment to Fred Mann for his report on NOW with Bill Moyers (not the $10,000 previously admitted). In addition, the IG has also found $15,000 in payments to two lobbyists regarding Tomlinson’s campaign in July 2004 against that bill that would have put more public broadcasters on the CPB Board.
At first unknown, journalists researching find that Mr. Mann is an older conservative GOP consultant and commentator, most recently working at the National Journalism Center, a school for conservative journalists that sets graduates up as interns at such newspapers and magazines as Tomlinson’s old Reader’s Digest. The school has received funding from Exxon and Phillip Morris, and is proud of alumni such as Ann Coulter.
Jun 17, 05 Democratic Senators Dorgan, Clinton and Frank R. Lautenberg send Tomlinson a letter urging him to postpone the election of a new CPB President scheduled for June 20 (knowing that he is pushing for Patricia Harrison). “We believe your conduct as Chairman of the Board has been highly inappropriate.”
Jun 18, 05 Stephen Labaton at NY Times reports that raw data from study overseeing NOW’s liberal bias received by Senator Byron L. Dorgan, D-ND from Tomlinson, labels mainstream conservative Sen Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) as “liberal” and a segment about financial waste at the Pentagon as “Anti-Defense.”
Jun 21, 05 Bill Moyers places a two page (!) ad in The Washington Post, filled with an essay entitled “A Moral Transaction.” . Some of the fundamental assumptions the public has about public broadcasting are:
That public television is an open classroom for people who believe in lifelong learning.
That the medium can dignify life instead of debase it.
That it can help us to see more clearly, understand more deeply, and laugh more joyously.
House and Senate Democrats present Congress with more than 1 million signatures calling for restoration of full funding for public broadcasting. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), calls on Tomlinson to resign from both Chair of CPB and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
Sixteen Democratic Senators (Boxer, Schumer, Lieberman, Corzine, Lautenberg, Nelson, Kennedy, Feinstein, Biden, Cantwell, Durbin, Harkin, Leahy, Mikulski, Stabenow, Wyden) sign a letter to Bush:
“We urge you to immediately replace Mr. Tomlinson with an executive who takes his or her responsibility to the public television system seriously, not one who so seriously undermines the credibility and mission of public television."
Jun 22, 05 The White House rejects call to fire Tomlinson.
Tomlinson rejects call for his resignation.
The NY Times reports that a CPB insider unhappy with Tomlinson’s leadership has supplied a copy of the consulting contract for monitoring liberal bias which shows it is dated February 3, 2004, five months before Kathleen Cox becomes President, and Mr. Tomlinson’s own signature. “This guy has some real credibility problems.” – Senator Dorgan.
Jun 23, 05 Postponing for only three days, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting elects Patricia Harrison as President.
Vote on House floor gives back $100 million to CPB budget, but not to technology upgrades and children’s programming.
An amendment to boost the $602 billion bill by $11.8 billion, offset by reducing tax cut for millionaires, was barred from consideration on House floor because it was previously defeated in Committee. This means the $100 million returned to CPB has to be taken from Labor Department’s training and employment services, higher education funds, health programs, Community Services block grants for housing, child care and emergency food assistance, and the enforcement of fair labor practices for the pending Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTRA).
[AUTHOR'S COMMENTARY, CLEARLY LABELED]
So, it seems there was even more bad news that day. Watch for this vote being used against Democrats.
Jun 30, 05 Senator Byron Dorgan releases raw data from Tomlinson’s political monitoring. Turns out Tominlinson didn’t just have NOW monitored. He also wanted info on The Diane Rehm Show and The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR (What?– No Terry Gross?), as well as checking in on his conservative buddy on Tucker Carlon Unfiltered on PBS.
Dorgan calls the study “a complete waste of more than $14,000 in taxpayers funds. . . a little nutty. . based on no standard or objective criteria. . . steeped in deep political bias. . .” done by an “armchair analyst” hired to “produce a report to find what Tomlinson wanted to find.”
Sounds uncannily like “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Downing Street, July 2002.
“Mr Tomlinson is taking the CPB down a very dangerous path that harms public broadcasting rather than strengthens it.” Dorgan.
July 1, 05 Rep. Edward J. Markey and 51 other House Democrats sign a letter to Tomlinson requesting his resignation. Markey tells reporters, Tomlinson's “job is to provide a firewall between PBS and the political world. Instead he has become the prime critic of public broadcasting.”
In Salt Lake City, OnePerson turns on her local PBS station, KUED, at 8:00 to watch NOW. Still meandering, gathering a beverage and eyeglasses, she hears the “paid for by” insert and then the words “Corporation for Public Broadcasting” and knows something is wrong here! Where NOW should be, the Journal Editorial Report, Tomlinson's corporate answer to NOW, comes on! She checks the TV menu – it says it should be NOW. She checks the KUED website – it says it should be NOW. Her heart rate is increasing. She starts calling KUED phone numbers, but the offices are closed. Finally she gets the Technical Services Director – a friendly voice.. She’s semi-distraught. She tells him that she knows all about Tomlinson, but please don’t give in! He calls her back and assures her that NOW was on at 8:00. OH NO!!! She tries to sound sane as she assuredly explains that it really wasn’t. She tells him exactly what was on instead. He calls her back again and asks if she’s been breathing. Good, because she was on to something, that she was right. But it wasn’t Tomlinson pulling a covert or bullying switchout. At least not exactly. It was just that PBS changed its satellite schedule, to include JER, and somehow KUED missed the memo that it would have to pull NOW earlier to save it for an 8:00 viewing in SLC. Phew. Later in the week, OnePerson does call the PBS main office to make sure this hadn't happen all over the country. It hadn't.
Meanwhile, in another part of PBS Land, the long-running, basically conservative, PBS political discussion show, The McLaughlin Report, is taping for a weekend broadcast. As the panel discusses Time Magazine’s decision to turn over their reporter, Matt Cooper’s, documents regarding the leak about Valerie Plame being a CIA operative, Senior MSNBC political analyst, Lawrence O’Donnell, interjects:
"I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."
The McLaughlin Group. Conservative. On PBS. The truth about Rove. Balance that.
EPILOGUE [AUTHOR’S COMMENTARY, CLEARLY LABELED]:
After extensive reading & highlighting of online and published articles,charters, missions, testimony, recommendations, reports, etc. surrounding the CPB, VOA, PBS, NPR, NOW, Ombudsmen, Inspector Generals, Congress, and the concept of trustworthy communication, I have come to the conclusion that the words “fair and balanced” are dangerous.
Louis Barbash writes in Current, the newsletter for public broadcasting, that NOW is “a platform for Moyers’ critique of policy and politics, incisively argued and buttressed with documentary sequences and interviews.”
Barbash also writes that a Moyers’ commentary expresses his “contention” that “the nexus of corporate power, market fundamentalism, and money in politics is transforming democracy, undermining capitalism and polarizing America.”
The question is – Which came first? Moyers’ “contention” -- Or -- the decades of asking questions and looking more closely? -- “covering not only news and public affairs, but also addiction, death, religion, sports, music, China and the Hudson River”?
Doesn't that extraordinary breadth and depth of learning from those decades of “documentary sequences and interviews” give Bill Moyers the right to share the patterns he’s seen, that make him reach a “contention”?
Speaking to Texas Monthly in October 2004, Moyers said that he believes:
“Objectivity means being true to your own reading of the record and your own analytical processes of reasoning and conclusion and logic. There’s a truth behind the news that is the journalist’s obligation to discover as fairly and responsibly as possible. . For some stories, there aren’t necessarily two sides. Very often it’s the case that the evidence is unarguable.”
Perhaps if all the media had Moyers’ independence and heartwarming bluntness, we, the people, could actually respond to the evidence.
Or as Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times on June 24, 2005,
"Once the media catch up with the public, we'll be able to start talking seriously about how to get out of Iraq."
To verify/research, Google: “Kenneth Tomlinson" or "Kenneth Tomlinson" +[any word you like above, like CPB, VOA, Moyers, Harrison, etc.]