Limbaugh distorted Tomlinson resignation: "He was trying to get some conservative programming on NPR and PBS"

››› ››› JOSH KALVEN

On the November 8 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that former Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson had been forced off the CPB board of directors "because he was trying to get some conservative programming on NPR [National Public Radio] and PBS [Public Broadcasting Service]." But Limbaugh ignored the fact that Tomlinson's resignation -- which CPB characterized as a mutual decision -- came immediately after the board received the conclusions of a six-month investigation by the CPB inspector general, which are expected to be highly critical of the former chairman. The probe was launched in response to allegations that Tomlinson violated both federal law and corporation policies in his efforts to correct perceived liberal bias in public radio and television broadcasts.

Upon receiving CPB inspector general Kenneth A. Konz's final report, the board of directors reportedly reviewed the findings in a three-day closed session, after which Tomlinson resigned. While Konz's report will not be released to Congress until mid-November, the CPB statement announcing Tomlinson's resignation suggested that at least some of its conclusions were unfavorable:

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board of Directors today announced that its former chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson has resigned from the CPB board. The board does not believe that Mr. Tomlinson acted maliciously or with any intent to harm CPB or public broadcasting, and the board recognizes that Mr. Tomlinson strongly disputes the findings in the soon-to-be-released Inspector General's report.

The statement further noted that the decision for Tomlinson to resign had been reached mutually:

Nonetheless, both the board and Mr. Tomlinson believe it is in the best interests of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that he no longer remain on the board. The board commends Mr. Tomlinson for his legitimate efforts to achieve balance and objectivity in public broadcasting.

In May 2005, Konz agreed to investigate Tomlinson's actions as chairman. Democratic members of Congress had requested such a probe in response to reports that Tomlinson commissioned an outside consultant to monitor several PBS and NPR programs for liberal bias, exerted pressure on PBS to distribute programming presenting explicitly conservative points of view and communicated with White House officials regarding public broadcasting issues. Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented Tomlinson's false statements concerning these allegations.

From the November 8 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: When you get into the heart and soul of a genuine liberal, their air of superiority and entitlement is such that they are not even ideologues. Liberalism is not an ideology. It's just what is. It's as natural as water and air, and anything else is what's kooky, extreme, and dangerous. You need water and air to live, and if somebody's going to come along and pollute the water and air with conservatism, why, that's extreme. He can listen to NPR, and he will not think that he's listening to liberal, balanced news, commentary or what have you. We just got -- this guy, Tomlinson, was just forced out of the board of public broadcasting, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting board because he was trying to get some conservative programming on NPR and PBS. They just forced him out. PBS, NPR, totally liberal. And all you have to do is take a look at their reaction any time somebody suggests actually putting some conservative programming on either network.

Media Matters for America runs the Hands Off Public Broadcasting campaign, an effort to ensure that public broadcasting remains independent and free from political pressure and to highlight conservative misinformation in and about public broadcasting.

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