The CPB Board: Why PBS Is Moving to the Right

Digby isn’t happy about PBS hiring Frank Luntz. Well, who is?

There must be something in the air. First, Matthews feels the need to give Ann Coulter a full hour to spew genocidal vomit and now I find that PBS has hired the notorious fraud Frank Luntz to analyze “public feedback” on the Democratic debate. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. He is one of the architects of the Republican Revolution and along with Newt Gingrich is the man most responsible for the distorted, propagandistic political discourse we spend our lives on the blogs trying to unravel. He has no business “interpreting” Democratic voters’ reaction to Democratic candidates based upon his political affiliation alone. But the fact that he has been completely discredited as a pollster and analyst by his own profession should make him radioactive for any respectable news organization. I can’t imagine what is wrong with PBS that they don’t know about this man.

But that’s not all.

Something odd is going on at PBS lately. They also invited that Coulter wannabe Melanie Morgan on Lehrer recently, apparently under the misapprehension that she was a sane spokeswoman of the right, and she proved to be a complete disaster. Now they have hired straight up right wing political operative Luntz to “interpret” the impressions of Democratic voters. Are they getting their bookers from the Heritage Foundation web site too?

It isn’t “lately”, Digs. It’s been going on for years. I’ve been writing about it for years.

It bubbled to the surface two years ago when Ken Tomlinson, the neocon camp-follower Bush named to the CPB Board, was discovered to have been deliberately politicizing PBS programming, accusing it of “liberal bias” and hiring conservative “consultants” (read: Hatchetmen) and lobbyists with CPB money but without bothering to tell his own Board what he was doing.

He was forced to resign on Nov 3, ’05, but not because he was politicizing a public network. One of the early bad signs is that he was fired for doing it in the dark. If the Board had objections to what he was doing, they kept it to themselves. What they were pissed about was being kept out of the loop. (And, naturally, that he got caught.)

The Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has a lot to say about programming decisions at PBS. They run it. And that Board has been packed with conservatives. Clinton started it but – of course – Bush took it to absurd extremes. At this point, there isn’t a single identifiable liberal left on the Board and only one member who isn’t instantly identifiable as a conservative. And most of them aren’t exactly rational conservatives. They’re Newt Gingrich acolytes trained in right-wing think-tanks and conservative propaganda broadcasting – the VOA and Radio Marti.

The CPB Board

Chair: CHERYL F. HALPERN (Appointed by Bush)

Tomlinson, under pressure, stepped down from the Chair in September and was replaced by Halpern. This is part of her resume from the CPB’s own website.

In 1990, Mrs. Halpern was confirmed as a member of the Board for International Broadcasting and as a director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). From 1995 through 2002, she served on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) overseeing Voice of America, Radio and TV Marti, RFE/RL, Worldnet, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Iraq. While serving on the BBG she helped create Radio Sawa, America’s Arabic radio service to the Middle East. In August 2002, Mrs. Halpern was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a director of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). In September 2005, she was elected to be chairman of the CPB.

Granted, she doesn’t seem to be as toxic as Tomlinson, but consider: she hasn’t had one day’s worth of experience in non-propaganda broadcasting, and she has zero educational training or experience. She is, pure and simple, a propaganda expert.

But we’re not done yet.

Mrs. Halpern’s civic involvement includes participation on the boards of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the President’s Advisory Council of Barnard College and the International Republican Institute.

The FDD, created by Bush two days after 9/11, is a neoconservative think-tank funded by several billionaires (nothing new there) whose mission, it claims, is to conduct “research and education on international terrorism”.


The FDD Board includes William Kristol, Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, and Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Getting the idea?

Then there’s the IRI, a real beaut. According to SourceWatch:

IRI’s stated mission is to “support the growth of political and economic freedom, good governance and human rights around the world by educating people, parties and governments on the values and practices of democracy.” However, it has also been linked to efforts to foment a violent military coup in Haiti. Max Blumenthal reports that Stanley Lucas is the program officer for the IRI’s Haiti program.

(emphasis added)

Looking a little more toxic now, isn’t she? A propaganda expert with ties to not one but two secretive neoconservative think-tanks, one of which was involved in the attempted overthrow of a sovereign nation, is COB of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Don’t panic yet. Wait til later. It gets worse.

(to be cont’d)

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

  1. Pingback: The CPB Board 2: Why PBS Is Moving to the Right « Mick Arran

  2. Pingback: The CPB Board 3: Why PBS Is Moving to the Right « Mick Arran

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