Wednesday, February 12, 2014

PBS: It Was Great While It Lasted

As a liberal, I have a confession to make: I stopped pledging annually to support PBS and NPR back in the Bush years when I heard PBS's public ombudsperson say that she accepted Bush-era euphemisms for torture, such as enhanced interrogation techniques, saying that legal definitions of "torture" were "murky."

I stopped supporting public broadcasting that very day and haven't contributed a penny since because google though I might, I haven't heard the position retracted. I can't say I haven't felt guilty, as I continued to watch the NewsHour and listen regularly to NPR Morning and Weekend Edition. And, hell, I still watch Antiques Roadshow from time to time.

But in the past year or so, I've noticed the very perceptible shift rightward for NPR, especially Morning Edition, as well as a fragmenting of the quality of the NewsHour, along with a decline in the relevance of Washington Week, which has turned into a Beltway Insiders Yuk-Yuk Club.

Mainstream network news blows so bad, PBS and NPR still have a valid role to play; it's just that the way they play it has been declining.

Now we hear a possible reason why:
On December 18th, the Public Broadcasting Service’s flagship station WNET issued a press release announcing the launch of a new two-year news series entitled “Pension Peril.” The series, promoting cuts to public employee pensions, is airing on hundreds of PBS outlets all over the nation. It has been presented as objective news on  major PBS programs including the PBS News Hour.
However, neither the WNET press release nor the broadcasted segments explicitly disclosed who is financing the series. Pando has exclusively confirmed that “Pension Peril” is secretly funded by former Enron trader John Arnold, a billionaire political powerbroker who is actively trying to shape the very pension policy that the series claims to be dispassionately covering.
This news proves why the expression "we are so fucked" has new life breathed into it so often these days. Because we are so fucked.

And, trust me, this isn't a liberal thing. This is a rational, I-want-to-be-properly-well-informed thing. If I wanted to be bamboozled constantly I'd watch Fox News.

Please, let's challenge this. Maybe we can launch anti-pledge drives. I'll donate to that.

Ask me why I'm smiling, I mean beyond the Beltway insider jokes...

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