I forgot to mention yesterday that in response to the criticism of Luntz’s hiring (which came, so far as I am aware, from the blogosphere exclusively – I’ve seen not one comment against it in any of the mass media organs I look at every day), PBS announced that he will not, after all, be taking up a Friday night slot on Tavis Smiley’s show to bash Democrats and sell his latest ultraconservative frames (via Avedon Carol).
The Good News about the CPB Board is that a) it has enormous overall influence but no day-to-day supervisory control, and b) its members seem to be aware – or at least to believe – that they’re behind the lines in enemy territory and have to be careful lest their cover be blown to smithereens.
As Digby’s comment shows, even otherwise smart, savvy, highly-informed liberal critics remain largely unaware of the changes on the CPB Board and the rightward drift of PBS programming that began under Clinton not long after the Republicans took control of Congress in ’94. As we reach the point – which we’re now doing – where that drift becomes more obvious and less ignorable, those critics are bound to catch on. If they then succeed in convincing the largely liberal-leaning PBS audience that its favorite news outlet has become little more than a FoxLite shill for conservative talking points, there could very well be a rather nasty backlash. The Movement Cons now dominating the Board would no doubt like to avoid that contingency.
One of the ways the Board has been able to use its power without exposing its positioning is through the use of “beards” – token appointments of people who may be sympathetic to right-wing thinking or at least have no open antipathy toward it, and who in any case don’t have enough influence to sway the decisions of the dominant neocons.