Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bert and Ernie's Revenge

The regime that couldn't shoot straight has just had another anvil tied around its neck. Its attempt to place a strangle hold on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by inserting a politically motivated hack into the organization that has provided Americans with stunning dramas and award winning children's shows without the distractions of advertising has just been exposed by the corporation's Inspector General, according to the NY Times.

Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting said on Tuesday that they had uncovered evidence that its former chairman had repeatedly broken federal law and the organization's own regulations in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias.

A report by the corporation's inspector general, sent to Congress on Tuesday, described a dysfunctional organization that appeared to have violated the Public Broadcasting Act, which created the corporation and was written to insulate programming decisions from politics.

The report said investigators found evidence that Mr. Tomlinson had violated federal law by being heavily involved in getting more than $4 million for a program featuring writers of the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.

It said he had imposed a "political test" to recruit a new president of the corporation. And it said his decision to hire Republican consultants to defeat legislation violated contracting rules.

The report said Mr. Tomlinson appeared to have violated federal law by promoting "The Journal Editorial Report" and said he had "admonished C.P.B. senior executive staff not to interfere with his deal to bring a balancing program" to public broadcasting.

The board is prohibited from becoming involved in programming decisions, but the investigators found that Mr. Tomlinson had pushed hard for the program, even as some staff officials at the corporation had raised concerns about its cost.

E-mail messages from around the same time show that he threatened to withhold money from public broadcasting "in a New York minute" if public broadcasting did not balance its lineup.

The investigators found evidence that "political tests" were a major criterion used by Mr. Tomlinson in recruiting the corporation's new president, Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and a former senior State Department official.

According to the report, Ms. Harrison was given the job after being promoted for it by an unidentified White House official. Investigators said they had found e-mail correspondence between Mr. Tomlinson and the White House that while "cryptic" in nature "gives the appearance that the former chairman was strongly motivated by political considerations in filling the president/C.E.O. position."
[Emphasis added]

Many of us PBS and NPR fans have noticed the hard shift to the right in both programming and reporting. As a result, many of us have also stopped contributing to the pledge drives which raise the bulk of the funds needed to finance both the local and national parts of public broadcasting. The federal government contributes roughly 15% to the budgets; the rest come from the private sector.

Back in July I posted on some of the suspicious behavior by Mr. Tomlinson, and also noted the news that an investigation into his clearly partisan activities has been launched. It's now clear that those activities were not only partisan but also illegal.

So why does he still have his job with CPB? He needs to be fired, as some in Congress have demanded of the Resident. The response?



Blogger ntodd said...

The Count would like to know how many counts (BWAHAHAHAHA) Tomlinson will be charged with. He hopes it will be many counts (BWAHAHAHAHA).

4:52 AM  

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