Politicizing public broadcasting is a bad idea, whatever the political party in charge. No Administration likes critical scrutiny and investigative journalism. That's why a truly independent public broadcasting, that can speak truth to power, regardless of who's in power, is so important. That's why we need to take a strong stand against Tomlinson's policies.
Over the past several days Tomlinson has been defending his actions in the media by repeating that public broadcasting has a liberal bias and needs to be "balanced." He positions himself as a dedicated supporter of public broadcasting who is trying to make it better. Yet his only answer is to promote unapologetically ideological conservative shows, like Journal Editorial Report, featuring the editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal, a for-profit company that shouldn't need public funds to get its views across to the public.
We have seen attacks on public broadcasting before from polarizing partisans, like former President Richard Nixon and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Both men thought public broadcasting was too liberal and instituted policies that threatened its editorial independence. And like Nixon who sought to takeover the CPB board and infrastructure,1 Tomlinson is stacking the CPB payroll with fellow Republicans and former White House staffers.2
For example, Tomlinson appointed as interim CPB chief Ken Ferree, a staunch believer in media deregulation and a top advisor to controversial former Republican FCC Chairman Michael Powell. He hired White House communications officer Mary Catherine Andrews as a "special advisor", who reportedly had a hand in creating the controversial CPB ombudsmen positions tasked with evaluating NPR and PBS programs for bias, a first in CPB's 38 year history. And it is widely known that he is considering filling the CPB presidency vacancy with Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and a State Department official who is clearly a partisan choice.
So, no matter how he tries to frame it, Tomlinson is injecting politics into public broadcasting as if he were channeling the ghost of President Nixon. He is interfering with the editorial independence of NPR and PBS and he is using the CPB purse strings to do it and we need your help to stop him. Please join us in sending him a clear message that we don't believe his double speak and he needs to look at the facts. Sign our petition today:
President & CEO, Common Cause