The Republic of T.

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PBS/Howard Candidates Forum Upate

I’m getting geared up for tomorrow’s Presidential Candidates Forum at Howard U. There’s now a live Media Bloggers Association page that will publish updates from all of the bloggers covering the forum.

Speaking of which, there’s a bit of a brouhaha over the choice by PBS of a Republican — David Luntz, who’s worked on the last three Guliani campaigns to deliver the post-debate analysis of the Democratic candidates forum. And apparently, there’s no Democratic analyst on the bill.

Prometheus has a letter from Media Matter’s chief David Brock concerning the conflict of interest.

Professor Kim is getting mail about it as well, the gist being that Fox News is apparently getting a “backdoor entry” to the Democratic candidates forum, and Prometheus concurs. (Professor Kim has also prepared a handy spreadsheet of the candidates’ positions related to issues on Covenant with Black America.)

I have two questions thus far:

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Why on earth would PBS only invite a Republican analyst and not invite a Democratic analyst? Does that sound “fair and balanced”? Or is PBS bending over backward to keep the White House happy and keep its funding?

My guess that the answer is yes. After all PBS previously announced that it would are a series airing both sides of the issue of separation of church and state? So, now PBS (and taxpayers) are funding a platform for people to argue against separation of church and state? (Why not? We’ve already got tax-payer funded proselytizing, which has created a veritable cottage industry for Republicans evangelical supporters to “win souls to Jesus” on the government dime.)

And in April, PBS gave Iraq war architect Richard Perle a platform to make the case for war again. This is a man who can look at the current state of affairs in Iraq and say he has no regrets. So, not only are we paying for the war he and the rest of the neocons so badly wanted, but we’re paying for him to tell us again why it was such a great idea.

We shouldn’t be surprised, though. Molly Ivins warned us two years ago.

I have listened patiently to years of right-wing bull about liberal bias in the media, but let us be perfectly clear about what is happening at PBS. Big Bird is not in favor of affirmative action. Bert and Ernie are not gay. Miss Piggy is not a feminist. “The Three Tenors,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Masterpiece Theater,” “Wall Street Week” and nature programs do not have a political agenda. “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” is biased in favor of boring, old, white guys who appear on painfully well-balanced panels. “Washington Week in Review” is a showcase for “Inside the Beltway,” conventional wisdom, power-parroting, political-geekhead, Establishment journalism — there is nothing liberal about it.

But there is a plot to politicize public broadcasting. It is plain as a pikestaff, and it is coming from the Right. It is obvious, undeniable and happening right now. The Bush administration is introducing a political agenda to public broadcasting. They are using the lame pretext that PBS is somehow liberal to justify it into a propaganda organ for the government. That is precisely what the board of CPB was set up to prevent 40 years ago; it is there to be a firewall between public broadcasting and political pressure. Ken Tomlinson is a disgrace to the purpose of that board, he has a political agenda and is engaging in a raw display of ideological bullying. The right-wingers in the House of Representatives are backing his power play with a threat to cut off funding for PBS entirely.

Tomlinson left PBS in the wake of a State Department report finding that he had misused his office and violated the law in an attempt to battle what he believed was “liberal bias” at PBS. (Big surprise. Liberals created public television and radio, and conservatives have wanted to kill it almost since its inception. My guess because anything non-commercial is too independent of corporate money and control to be allowed to exist.)

Tomlinson’s gone, but it looks like his spirit lives on at PBS. Which leads me to echo Prometheus’ question. Who hired Luntz?

Here’s hoping the candidates will ask that question. If not, maybe one of the bloggers can.

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