Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is unhampered by the forces of
the free market. As a public organization, it can survive even if
its services are no longer needed or if they can be provided more
efficiently and inexpensively by others. This is because PBS receives
government funding so it doesn't have to worry about competition
the 1960s, when PBS began, it was the only broadcaster with a format
of history, arts, culture, and children's programs. Its motto was,
"If PBS doesn't do it, who will?" Of course, for decades, there
was no other broadcaster with the PBS format. But now there are
over 200 cable outlets, many offering the same fare. These threaten
PBS's unique status. And, even more channels with PBS type formats
are evolving which will further erode PBS's raison detre. But once
the government begins funding an agency, it is loath to reduce or
discontinue funding. So Big Bird, Barney and Bill Moyers can relax.
Their status as wards of the state is secure.
1969, PBS cost the taxpayers five million dollars but for this year's
programming we will have to cough up $350 million. Of course, PBS
has always had successful fund raising drives because viewers are
led to believe stations are in dire financial straits. These fundraisers
prominently highlight the total dollars that the drive must produce
but the station's actual financial position is never revealed.
its embryo stages, it was assumed that the public television forum
would not allow the expression of political opinions or even permit
news programs. But news programs did evolve, the most prominent
being the Jim Lehrer News Hour. This nightly program recapped the
news of the day followed by in- depth reports of significant stories:
reports that "interpreted" the events.
feature was a discussion of news events by a panel of five or six
newspaper journalists from around the nation. These journalists
would report the reactions of people in their region of the nation.
To speak for the Southern states Lehrer picked Cynthia Tucker, a
journalist with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. If you
have read any of Ms. Tucker's columns you know she is an ultra Leftist.
To paraphrase Will Rogers, Ms. Tucker never met a government program
she didn't like. Does she represent the predominant viewpoint of
the majority of Southerners? I doubt it.
it vehemently denies it, PBS has, over the years, allowed partisan
politics to color the contents of its programming. However, its
denials became less credible in 1999 when it was discovered that
PBS stations had been sharing their donor lists with Democrats.
In return, Democrats made their lists of donors available to PBS
stations. This exchanging of donor lists had been taking place since
1981. It seems that both PBS and the Democrats sensed that they
attracted supporters with similar views.
the Watergate hearings, PBS interrupted regular programs to present
gavel-to-gavel coverage of the event. However, PBS refused to alter
its regular programming for President Clinton's impeachment proceedings
as well as any of the fund raising scandals during his administration.
is not surprising that there is considerable opposition to the Federal
funding of PBS. Also, questions have been raised about the liberal
bias in its programming as well as an agenda that seems to favor
Democrats. In 1995, a collection of critical articles was published
Broadcasting & the Public Trust", edited by David Horowitz
and Laurence Jarvik. A few years later, the book, PBS:
Behind the Screen, by Laurence Jarvik, also painted an unflattering
portrait of public TV. In a review of the book, the Wall Street
Journal wrote, "Again and again, Mr. Jarvik provides examples
of dishonesty and hypocrisy at the heart of the public broadcasting
annoying to me are PBS's distorted "historical" documentaries; primarily
those manufactured by Ken Burns. Most people today get their information
from television and historical documentaries are assumed to be factual
rather than agenda-driven. But Burn's portrayals of, for example,
Jefferson, the Civil War, and especially, President Lincoln make
no attempt at objectivity.
few years ago, Burns appeared on a call in program to discuss his
Civil War". One caller, a Civil War buff, took issue with numerous
parts of the documentary and eventually challenged Burns to a public
debate. Burns wisely declined claiming, "I'm a filmmaker not a historian".
But the historians Burns uses for advice are indeed a select group.
And the group surely does not include Charles
DiLorenzo or Jeffrey
admits that his films of the Civil War, Baseball and Jazz were simply
"a history of race relations." But, by following this ideological
agenda, Ken Burns abandoned artistic merit and impaired the quality
of these documentaries. His flawed approach is especially disappointing
in the Jazz series. He makes Jazz simply a "black" musical form,
spends too much time on racial problems, and ignores countless great
white Jazz artists, especially contemporary ones like Scott Hamilton
and Dianne Krall.
concepts inspired the ancient Greeks, Voltaire's ideas influenced
the Age of Enlightenment and today, thanks to PBS, we have the wisdom
of Bill Moyers. PBS has placed the sagacious Mr. Moyers in a new
weekly series, "Now with Bill Moyers". For a preview of this weekly
series we need to look back at the PBS special following the September
11 terrorist attack. Moyers and a panel of experts discussed how
America should respond. Moyers chosen panel included Cornell West,
Alan Dershowitz and "Vagina Monologues" playwright Eve Ensler. You
get the picture.
February 25th issue of The Weekly Standard contained an article
that revealed unflattering aspects of Moyers' modus operandi. These
quotes by Moyers are eye opening. "The right gets away with blaming
liberals for their efforts to help the poor, but what the right
is really objecting to is the fact that the poor are primarily black.This
crowd is really fighting a retroactive civil rights war to prevent
the people they dislike because of their color from achieving success
in American life."
despises what he calls the "religious right" often referring to
them as the "religious" or "religious true believers". This Moyers'
comment is particularly alarming: "Not just religious true believers
threaten our democracy. It's true believers in the God of the market
who would leave us to the ruthless forces of unfettered monopolistic
capital where even the laws of the jungle break down."
it time to close the curtain on Big Bird? Or, at least, shouldn't
we refuse to let our tax dollars be used for this liberal monstrosity?
Now PBS is allowed to use paid commercial advertisements to sponsor
some of their programs. Are commercial sponsorships and government
funding compatible? I don't think so. And, since PBS claims that
the federal government provides less than 12% of its funding, surely
they could survive without it.
President Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, he
addressed those who were attending the signing ceremony. To show
how far broadcasting had come, he began his remarks with a reference
to the first telegraphic message in 1844 when Samuel Morse transmitted
the question, "What hath God wrought?" When we look at today's leviathan,
agenda-driven Public Broadcasting System, we might well ask, "What
hath LBJ wrought?"
him mail] is a CPA living in
Beaufort, SC, an unreconstructed Southerner, and an opponent of
© 2002 LewRockwell.com
needs your help. Please donate.