The CPB Board

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.

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.

Having covered the two chief officers, we now move on to the members, and if you think the pattern is going to change, think again.

Member: WARREN BELL (Appointed by Bush)

Bell is a Burbanker, having spent most of his life in television. Until recently – when the show was canceled – he was executive producer of According to Jim, a successful ABC sit-com that was in the running for least funny network comedy series along with George Lopez, and writer/producer of shows like Ellen and Coach, which were much better.

But none of that is why he’s on the CPB Board. This is:

Additionally, in 2005, Mr. Bell began writing humorous columns for National Review Online, as well as contributing to NRO’s daily group blog, “The Corner.”

And this – especially this:

Mr. Bell has been involved with many civic organizations, including the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the Jewish Federation, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Well, what d’ya know? The FDD again, this time allied with AIPAC, the single most powerful hardline, hard-right, pro-Israel lobbying organization in the country. Amanda at Think Progress was under no illusions at the time of his appointment as to what it was all about.

The CPB is designed to provide a buffer between independent public broadcast networks and partisan politics.

But instead of being a nonpartisan advocate of public broadcasting, Bell will likely be another advocate of Bush’s agenda. (Under Bush, the CPB has steadily pushed right-wing priorities, trying to put a conservative slant on programming.)

In his writings for the National Review, Bell has been clear about his agenda:

“I could reach across the aisle and hug Nancy Pelosi, and I would, except this is a new shirt, and that sort of thing leaves a stain.” [5/11/05]

“I am thoroughly conservative in ways that strike horror into the hearts of my Hollywood colleagues. I support a woman’s right to choose what movie we should see, but not that other one.” [5/11/05]

“I have met President Bush twice. I have no powerful political connections — both times were the result of sizable checks written by me to support his campaign.” [3/31/05]

Looks like to get to Sesame Street, you have to take a turn to the right.

Looks like. Those quotes are what the right-wing considers “humorous”, apparently – more evidence if you needed it that conservatives think corruption, abortion, and hints that Democrats are diseased is the essence of slap-your-thigh “humor”.

And btw, tv is centered in Burbank, NOT Hollywood. That’s movies. It would seem Mr Bell is indulging in a little wishful-thinking and glamorizing o’ hisse’f.

Member: CHRIS BOSKIN (Appointed by Bush)

Boskin is our first non-political hack. She appears to have no political background whatsoever. By the same token, she has no educational background, either. What Boskin is, is a commercial media consultant, and her experience is almost exclusively in an area vital to the interests of Americans – rich Americans, that is.

Credited for her work in launching Countryside, Ms. Boskin served as advertising director and publisher for Countryside prior to joining Town & Country in 1991. From 1988 to 1990, she was San Francisco, Pacific Northwest, and Asia Manager for Hearst Magazines, responsible for Esquire, Harpers Bazaar, House Beautiful, and Connoisseur…. She joined Knapp Communications in 1972 as San Francisco Manager for Architectural Digest, and later helped develop and launch Bon Appetit.

This woman has spent the majority of her career hyping the homes and appetites of the investor class, and what she knows is what appeals most strongly to people with a lot of money. This, of course, makes her an invaluable asset on the BOD of a public broadcasting network that used to be known for hard-hitting investigative journalism and producing shows with a mass appeal to people from whatever economic class who had more than two brain cells that talked to each other.

Have you noticed the emphasis on fluffery at PBS lately? ATC in particular has been afflicted with a long series of meaningless, mindless pieces on upscale real estate, gourmet cooking, and lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous segments. I remember one not too long ago on high-end (read: expensive) toys. Now you know why.

Member: BETH COURTNEY (Appointed by Bush)

Beth Courtney is, not to put too fine a point on it, a piece o’ stuff. The only one on the Board with a lengthy public broadcasting resume, she was President and CEO of Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB), as well as…

[a] past chairman of the board of America’s Public Television Stations and former Vice Chairman of the board of the Public Broadcasting Service. [She] currently serves on the boards of the Satellite Educational Resources Consortium, the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives, the National Forum for Public Television Executives and the National Educational Telecommunications Association.

Sounds like the first legitimate Bush appointment, don’t she? But wait. There is, as always with these people, more.

Last year the Independent Weekly reported that Courtney (she was LPB’s CEO at the time) had been fined $10,000 by the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

On Jan.12, the board ruled that Courtney and her husband, Bob, had violated state ethics laws prohibiting state employees and their family members from doing business with the state agency where the employee works. Bob Courtney’s company, Courtney Communications, was paid $46,869 by John Camp Productions Inc. to develop three documentaries.

Yup, she’s a Bushie alright: a public job exists to be ripped off for private gain.

And she has all the attitudes you might expect from a corporate honcho from a privileged class. How do I know? It seems an LPB reporter named Jeff Duhe blew the whistle on Courtney’s feeding her husband LPB money after he received this phone call from Courtney. She had asked him to do a “report” on the opening of a new Bass Pro Shop in northern Louisiana and he expressed reluctance because, he said, he had “reason to believe” that Bass Pro was one of her husband’s clients.

The phone call shows a screaming, raving Courtney furious at Duhe’s suggestion, which she of course claims has no basis in fact. But she doesn’t stop there or offer to prove him wrong. Like any other corporate plutocrat stymied by a subordinate, she insists that he doesn’t even have the right to ask the question. She belittles him, accuses him of wanting to do stories about “streetcars” and “people making art out of matchsticks”, calls him “crazy” and says he’s lucky he hasn’t been fired.

But the most revealing portion of the tape (if you’ve got the stomach to listen to it) is a full-on, hysterical rant – there’s no other word for it – in which she screeches at him, “I made this place! It was nothing until I got here.” A typical sentiment often expressed by corporate autocrats: if they help build something, even a public broadcasting network, as far as they’re concerned they own it.

That phone call apparently convinced Duhe – for good reason – that Courtney wasn’t exactly rational and he turned his evidence on the documentary deal over to the Ethics Board. Shortly after that, he was fired.

And shortly after that, Bush appointed Courtney to the CPB Board where she quickly became one of Ken Tomlinson’s biggest supporters – something she’d started when she aligned LPB with Tomlinson’s anti-liberal agenda. That advocacy is the most likely explanation for her appointment in the first place. If nothing else, Courtney knows where the power center is.

That Bush. He sure can pick ‘em.

I forgot to mention 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.

Member: DAVID PRYOR (Appointed by Bush)

David Pryor, ex-Sen from Arkansas (and father of its current Sen, Mark Pryor), is a mildly conservative Blue Dog Democrat with no particularly distinguishing characteristics. He is not and never has been by any stretch of the imagination a controversial figure. His voting record shows, if anything, a stolid avoidance of controversy. For example, he’s never taken a public stand on abortion or gun control, and his voting pattern is pretty well split down the middle – he supported requiring the EPA to continue doing environmental risk assessments but against requiring ethanol in gasoline.

Long-time Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Govt and now Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Pryor’s resume is more notable for what it doesn’t include than what it does.

  • He didn’t sell out to corporate interests and take a high-paying series of board memberships.
  • He didn’t cash in on his govt experience and become a lobbyist after leaving office.
  • He didn’t join any right-wing/left-wing think-tanks or advocacy groups.

These days, that kind of not-doing qualifies as public spiritedness.

But if he’s not a firebrand partisan, neither is he a staunch centrist. Rather, he’s a milquetoast moderate who eschews not just controversy but confrontation. He isn’t known for challenging even the dumbest and most indefensible statements of his colleagues, and it’s highly doubtful he does so on the CPB Board. There’s a spate of interviews with him on the net (this one on electoral reform when he was at Harvard will do as an example) and they are as uninspired and pedestrian as any collection of random cliches could be. I read several of them and couldn’t find a single instance of provocative commentary or original thought.

Clearly, Bush appointed Pryor to the Board so he could claim it was bi-partisan without the danger of taking the risk that an actual difference of opinion might raise its ugly little head. And that’s the essence of a token appointment.

Member: CLAUDIA PUIG (Appointed by Bush)

Bush likes to make token minority appointments, especially of Hispanic tokens, and Puig is the CPB’s. But she is not, of course, just any Hispanic. Most importantly, she’s of Cuban extraction, not Mexican or El Salvadoran. Bush believes – probably correctly – that the conservative community of exiled anti-Castro Cubans is a natural constituency for him, and Puig is a bit of a star in that community.

But that’s not all that made her an attractive candidate. While her resume is super-heavy with broadcasting credits, they’re all in the area of finance – she’s a glorified accountant.

She is chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee of the CPB. Since April 1997, Puig has been with Univision Radio (formerly Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation), where she is currently senior vice president and eastern regional manager (New York, Miami and Puerto Rico), overseeing operational, financial, sales, programming and business development strategy for Univision’s broadcast properties.

And a glorified accountant relentlessly concerned with commercial outcomes.

Under her leadership, Univision’s Miami FM stations – WAMR and WRTO – consistently rank in the top ten stations in the market, while the AM stations – WAQI-AM and WQBA-AM – rank number one and two among the AM stations. WAMR has led the market in rates, ratings and revenues for the past six years, and Univision’s four Miami stations account for more than 60 percent of the Miami Latino market with one of them leading the market in terms of top ratings, rates and revenues.

Prior to her current position, Puig was Vice President and General Manager of Spanish Broadcasting Systems where she directed all aspects of sales, marketing, promotions and business development departments at local and national levels for WCMQ AM and FM in Miami.

In other words, she’s a perfect fit. She’s Hispanic (and from the right Hispanic community), conservative, a numbers-cruncher dedicated to the bottom line, a successful commercial broadcaster, and a link to the movers-and-shakers in Miami’s Cuban exile community (who vote heavily Republican). She’s also active civically in ways that are utterly non-controversial, so MOR that the most rabid progressive couldn’t find fault with them no matter how hard they tried.

Active in community and charitable causes, Puig serves on the board of trustees of Florida International University, and on the boards of directors of the Florida Association of Broadcasters, the United Way of Miami-Dade, the American Cancer Society, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and the Orange Bowl Committee. Other civic commitments include the Community Improvement Authority, and the City of Miami’s Arts and Entertainment Council.

No ties to right-wing think-tanks or rabid lobbying groups here, just a reliable, conservative, corporate-friendly vote whenever one is needed.

Puig does have one unusual quirk: unless there’s another Claudia Puig out there, she’s USA Today’s movie reviewer. Her reviews are usually of big Hollywood extravaganzas and – like the rest of her resume – very MOR (she liked Pirates 2, didn’t like Dupree and Me). There’s nothing flashy or intellectual about her criticism, and her writing is as pedestrian as you might expect considering her employer, but it does tend to show what passes for a whacky streak in conservative circles – she doesn’t hate Hollywood. Maybe that’s a sign of…something.

Member: ERNEST J. WILSON III (Appointed by Clinton, re-appointed by Bush)

Wilson isn’t just the Board’s token black and token Democrat, he’s the token internationalist and the token education expert, being the only one on it with training in and experience of education.

Ernest J. Wilson III has wide experience in both international affairs and information/communications issues. He has served in senior positions in the White House, the U.S. Information Agency, the private sector and in the academy. Formerly the Director of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) at the University of Maryland, Dr. Wilson is a Professor of Government and Politics and Afro-American Studies and a Faculty Associate in the School of Public Affairs. He is a Senior Advisor to the Global Information Infrastructure Commission.


Wilson has been involved in international affairs for many years, combining scholarship and writing with applied programs and projects in Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Before coming to the University of Maryland at College Park, Wilson directed the Center for Research on Economic Development at the University of Michigan, where he taught for ten years.


In 1993-1994 he served as director for International Programs and Resources on the National Security Council at the White House, where his responsibilities encompassed foreign assistance and international economic programs as well as the reform of U.S. international broadcasting, including Radio Free Europe, a Voice of America, and Radio Asia. He also established and directed the Policy and Planning Unit in the Office of the Director of the U.S. Information Agency. In 1994 he was asked to help create the Global Information Infrastructure Commission (GIIC), a new private sector organization of 40 CEOs and government leaders from around the world. He served as deputy director of the GIIC in 1994-1995.

Quite a resume – the kind that used to be common for CPB Board Members before Bush came along. You might be wondering why Bush re-appointed a guy like this, he’s so clearly NOT standard Bush material. I know I am.

I don’t know the answer but I can speculate as well as anyone. To begin with, it might be thought he brings a certain gravitas to the Board – after all, he’s the only one on it who knows what the hell he’s talking about. The rest are political hacks, right-wing ideologues, tokens, commercial broadcasters, or some combination of the four.

And it’s not like he could be a threat or anything. Bush has a solid majority of sycophants and fellow-travelers on the Board – 6 or 7 out of 8 – which would make Wilson a lonely voice indeed if he tried to rock the boat.

Which he hasn’t. He had a golden opportunity to go public with any concerns he might have had about the Board’s pushing PBS to the right when Tomlinson’s shenanigans got outed, but his voice is conspicuous by its absence even though Wilson has been less than shy about criticizing Bush’s foreign policy. On his blog at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, he has called the Administration “the gang” and savaged its foreign policies.

[I]t is patently obvious to all that the administration’s hapless mix of coercion and diplomacy has been a disaster. By using far too much of the former and far too little of the latter it has seriously compromised America’s national interest. Washington lacks an effective combination of hard and soft power to make smart power. Instead of a smart power policy, we have a policy of ‘stupid power’. Bush barely uses traditional or public diplomacy at all, and uses coercive power badly.

Of course, when he was re-appointed in ‘04, he wasn’t nearly that vocal. He was one of the liberal foreign policy establishment who at first backed the war in Iraq, turning against it only after the rest of the population did when Iraq began spiraling into chaos and civil war. It may be that his resume looked good and Bush had no reason at the time to think Wilson wouldn’t continue to either support him or at least keep his mouth shut. I doubt he would be re-appointed today.


It should be obvious by this point that the CPB Board is now packed with right-wing Bush supporters who have ties to some of the ugliest conservative groups on record or are at least sympathetic with their goals. Virtually none of them have any documented interest in public broadcasting, education, or non-partisan news reporting. They came in with an agenda – the one Tomlinson finally put on the table last year, to make PBS “less liberal” – and they’ve been working toward that agenda for at least 6 years.

How do you make an entity “less liberal”? Well, you could force it to the middle, replacing a perceived partisanship with “objectivity”. But what if the supposedly too liberal entity is already pretty objective? Then there’s only one option: make it more conservative.

That’s clearly the road the Bush Board has chosen. They’ve successfully insinuated conservative producers, presenters, and commentators into PBS’ structure, poisoning much of its reporting, and now they’re pushing the envelope with extremists like Luntz and Melanie Morgan. A Board full of people who know nothing about education and less about journalism but who have many ties to toxic institutions like AEI and the IRI could scarcely be expected to do less.

5 responses to “The CPB Board

  1. Joel Friedland

    PBS airs a half-hour business show nearly every day of the week. There are hardly ever any programs about labor unions, other than history on American Experience and pundits from AEI and the Heritage Foundation talking down the benefits of closed shops.

    Why should PBS devote 150+ hours to business reporting each year, and less then 5 hours to the BENEFITS of labor unions?

    In March, I emailed the CPB about this and PBS and as many board members whose email addresses I could find. PBS issued an auto-response email telling me that my email was received. None of the people sent an email back.

  2. Nor will they. Ever.

    I don’t know what to tell you, Joel, except that of course you’re right. I could add that Studs Terkel pointed out more than 10 years ago that newspapers have NEVER had a section devoted to labor. Ever. Style Section, Business Section, Fashion Section, yes. Labor Section, definitely NO, not even at the height of Labor’s power in the 50’s.

    I might remind everyone that in 1998 Ralph Nader agreed and went on to point out that electronic media are even worse: no labor news, no union news, and no news about what the 1000’s of community organizations are doing all over the country, not even on their local radio stations.

    As far as the CPB Board is concerned, the movement to the far right started very early on – with Reagan in the 80’s. There’s nothing new about it except how extreme it is now. Conservatives all but control the NPR/PBS news depts, which is why it didn’t surprise me yesterday when, despite days of well-publicized debunking by Glenn Greenwald and others, NPR’s featured Iraq expert was – you guessed it – Michael O’Hanlon pretending to be a liberal.

    What we need here is not one or two emails but a fucking campaign – thousands of them protesting the destruction of public broadcasting and its redesign as yet another conservative news outlet.

  3. Pingback: Troy Davis Execution Date Set: BOYCOTT COCA COLA « Mick Arran

  4. thank you mick for exposure of C.P.B. Don’t forget the ‘special relationship’ with the BBC World service, international propaganda arm of the British gov. NPR masquerades it as being the same as the domestic service. Nothing could be further from the truth. The World service is funded and controlled directly by the Foreign Office not by public subscription. Also, the product brought to us by ‘Public Radio International’ is custom designed for an American audience. The World service was initiated in 1952 as a cold war device in countries of the far flung empire, mostly broadcast in foreign language. It continues that ‘Voice of America’ tradition today to a largely unknowing US listenership. Its pro market, pro war, agenda brings us endless attack pieces on the governments of Russia,Venezuela,Iran,Sudan,Pakistan or the other usual suspects whom London(Washington) needs to propagandise against.
    My father worked for the World service in the sixties.Producers were briefed by the Foreign Office weekly. I don’t think that has changed, especially since the Hutton report enabled Blair to politicise the independently chartered BBC itself, but which is no relation to the World service.-To the ill informed listeners of NPR, it has become the only source for international news on the radio.I hope that they can read between the lines written by cute sounding young government hacks from Bush House.

  5. Thanx for the info, jerry. No I didn’t know any of that tho I had my suspicions. The World Service was too friendly to Bush by half and ignored too many situations that might have made Tony Blair look bad. I eventually quit listening, at least as much because it was boring as that it was slanted.

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