The CPB Board 2: Why PBS Is Moving to the Right


I told you it gets worse. You can’t say you weren’t warned.

Second-in-command and presumably waiting her turn for the Chair is a woman whose resume makes Halpern’s look soft as a melted marshmallow.

Vice Chair: GAY HART GAINES (A recess appointment by Bush)

Where to start? How about here:

She is currently a member of the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Madison Council of the Library of Congress. She has served as a board member of the Hudson Institute, the Best Friends Foundation, and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, where she was also president of the Palm Beach Chapter for three years. She was a charter member of GOPAC, which she chaired from 1993-1997, and chairman of the National Review Institute from 1991-1993.

AEI, HF, and HI are the three most powerful, richest, and most virulent neoconservative think-tanks in the country. They’re where the likes of Newt, Dick Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, et al, make their home. They’re also the source of a good deal of conservative pundit welfare, paying large salaries and/or stratospheric speaking fees to – in addition to those named above – Ann Coulter, Norman Podhoretz, Charlie Krauthammer, and Mark Steyn, among many others. Gaines is a member of two and on the board of the third.

But that’s just for starters.

The Madison Council – which you’ve probably not heard of, hardly anyone has – is truly unique in our history, the first of its kind.

The James Madison Council is a private-sector group created to serve as the Library of Congress’ primary link to the business community. The James Madison Council is the first private sector advisory body in the Library’s history. The Council consists of public-spirited citizens dedicated to helping the nation receive the full benefits of the Library’s incomparable educational, scientific, technological, and cultural resources.

Sounds harmless, don’t it? Even benign. But like everything else in the neocon universe, appearances are deceiving. What the Council does is fund programs and promote books and authors acceptable to conservatives under the imprimatur of the Library of Congress. The brainchild of Laura Bush, the Board is packed with cronies from Texas and billionaire contributors to GOP causes.

Given Georgie’s penchant for privatizing every govt entity in sight, it is also most likely a first step toward turning the LOC over to corporate interests by insinuating them into its infrastructure. It’s an old neocon trick – bring the corporate money in, cut the budget claiming you “just can’t afford it any more”, and gradually replace govt money with corporate money and govt control with corporate control.

For the time being, though, the Council contents itself with sponsoring and funding events like the Seventh Annual National Book Festival (which they started), a mass gathering of conservative authors beloved by the right wing. (Tim LeHaye hasn’t been invited yet, as far as I know, but it’s only a matter of time.) This year’s “festival” featured such favorites as:

  • Joyce Carol Oates, who I once called “the right wing’s answer to Jane Smiley”. Probably the most prolific novelist we have, Oates publishes two or three books a year. Actually, if you read a couple of them, you begin to understand that she’s prolific because she’s basically writing different versions of the same book, over and over and over again. Her themes are fear, violence, twisted family values, and naughty sex. In Oates’ world, fear is a survival instinct, violence is a cure, and twisted family values are those that a conservative would consider “permissive”. The naughty sex is there to sell the books. It works.
  • Jodi Picault, who I will now call the right wing’s answer to Judy Blume, writes books about rebellious teenage girls who defy the communities in which they live but learn in the end how the elders in those communities really had their best interests at heart all along.
  • My personal favorite, Harry Turtledove, is a sci-fi/fantasy writer who specializes in Heinlein-style, pro-authoritarian worlds like that of The Gladiator, whose synopsis begins: “The Soviet Union won the Cold War. The Russians were a little smarter than they were in our own world, and the United States was a little dumber and a lot less resolute. Now, more than a century later, the world’s gone Communist, and capitalism is a bad word.” Read the rest. I’m sure you’ll run out and buy it when you do.
  • Edward P Jones, an African-American writer who won a Pulitzer Prize and attended the Festival to hawk his new book, The Known World, which is about black slaves owned by other blacks. I probably don’t need to explain why conservatives would love a book like that.
  • Finally, there’s Michael Beschloss, whose most recent book is Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America. I haven’t read it but I’m betting George gets a good review.

That’s only about half of them, but you’ve got the idea. The real mission of the Madison Council is to promote books and authors whose messages are conservative-friendly and not too controversial. They’re operating – so far – under the radar, another reason to suspect an ulterior privatization motive.

As for the Best Friends Foundation, that’s an outfit – again, supported by corporate bucks – whose mission is to support abstinence in adolescents. Run by Virtue Czar William Bennet’s wife Elayne, BFF’s emphasis is on “the physical and emotional well-being of adolescents” through “the practice of self-restraint”. Bennett testified before the Republican Congress on “preventing teen pregnancy” through abstinence, and is regularly featured on Fox News and The O’Reilly Factor, where she inevitably receives a warm and approving reception. BillO isn’t about to challenge Bill Bennett’s wife just because the program she espouses doesn’t work worth a train-flattened penny.

The political section of Gaines’ resume isn’t much more reassuring.

Long active in Republican Party affairs, Gaines is a trustee of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, and a board member and president of the Palm Beach Republican Club.

There you go. The CPB’s Vice Chair, in addition to everything else, is a GOP political hack from the Newt Gingrich School of Ultraconservatism and, no doubt (Palm Beach speaks for itself), a major fund-raiser in the upper levels of the investor class. Just who you want running a public broadcasting service – if your aim is to turn that service into FoxNews-Lite.

(to be cont’d)

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One response to “The CPB Board 2: Why PBS Is Moving to the Right

  1. Pingback: The CPB Board: Why PBS Is Moving to the Right « Mick Arran

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