Ever since the recent controversy broke about NPR, we've been noting how, despite the constant outcries about liberal bias in public broadcasting, conservative critics have done a very poor job documenting its supposedly offensive behavior. Apparently it's much easier to attack public broadcasting than it is to prove its journalism is unfair.
Writing at Commentary, Michael Rubin claims he has the goods (evidence of "dirty tricks") and wants the United States Congress to investigate what he presents as definitive proof of PBS's bias, as well as its unfair use of taxpayer money. The evidence? A PBS show, Frontline, hosts a website and on that website there's a "commentary" section and in that commentary section there are links to another site that Rubin does not approve of.
Did I mention he wants Congress to investigate this shocking behavior?
It seems that the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has a similar problem. Someone at its Frontline website has been substituting fake biographies of conservatives written by an organization called Right Web for legitimate institutional biographies.
That they have turned PBS into a tool for policy advocacy and dirty tricks is unfortunate. If that's what Frontline wants to do, so be it. But they should not do it with taxpayer money.
Here's a sample of a supposedly "fake" bio, from the Right Web's James Woolsey entry, which comes complete with 39 footnotes:
The director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Bill Clinton (1993-1995), R. James Woolsey is a neoconservative writer, activist, and government and corporate adviser who argues that the United States is fighting a "Long War" against terror. Woolsey is a self-described "Scoop Jackson/Joe Lieberman Democrat" who, despite his party affiliation, has advised a number of Republican Party figures, including President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain.
Here's the Frontline response to Rubin's claim [emphasis added]:
The Commentary blog post contended that Right Web publishes "fake biographies of conservatives." After reviewing the matter, we find that the biographies on the Right Web site are not at all fake or fabricated, and seem to be well-sourced. However, we do think it's helpful for our readers to understand this site's particular point of view--and their stated focus on those who "promote militarist U.S. foreign and defense policies"--if they choose to click on this outside link for further information.
If conservatives are going to dedicate themselves to defunding, and demonizing, public broadcasting, they're going to have to do a better job documenting its supposed sins. Pointing to links you don't like doesn't really count.
From the February 11 edition of PBS' NewsHour:
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PBS' ombudsman Michael Getler has a column up about the McLaughlin Group -- or as he calls it, "that weekly scream-fest 'talk' show that is aired by some 315 PBS member stations but is not produced by PBS."
It seems Getler just hates getting emails about the show. So much so that the messages make him want to "grab a beer and hit the chute."
Funny, I feel the same way watching the show given all of the conservative misinformation spewed on the program by the likes of Pat Buchanan, Monica Crowley and John McLaughlin himself.
Despite reports that "don't ask, don't tell" will be tackled in President Obama's State of the Union address tonight, the initial line-up of cable and broadcast network hosts and commentators offering analysis after the speech includes only one openly LGBT figure, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
From Mediabistro's TVnewser:
|Wolf Blitzer and Campbell Brown will anchor coverage leading into the address along and post-response analysis along with John King. Soledad O'Brien will report on polling data and Jessica Yellin will moderate a focus group in Ohio. Anderson Cooper will report and anchor "AC360" from Haiti at 11pmET. Larry King will be live at 12amET.|
|"O'Reilly Factor" will end at 8:55pmET and Bret Baier will anchor the address, the Republican response, and analysis live until 10:30pmET. Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Joe Trippi, and Bob Beckel will contribute. Carl Cameron and Major Garrett will report. Greta Van Susteren will be live for "On the Record" until 11pmET. Sean Hannity will be live from 11pmET until midnight.|
|Starting at 9pmET, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Rachel Maddow will anchor coverage of the address and response. Live editions of "Countdown" and "Rachel Maddow" will air at 10:30pmET and 11:30pmET|
|Fox Business will have coverage from 8-11pmET anchored by Neil Cavuto from the Newseum. Elizabeth MacDonald will host "Fixing America" beforehand and John Stossel will lead a "town hall" discussion afterward.|
|CNBC special coverage begins at 7pmET with Larry Kudlow in D.C. followed at 8pmEt by "President Obama 1 Year Later," which will be anchored live by John Harwood and Carl Quintanilla from Washington. CNBC will carry the address with and have reaction until 10:30pmET.|
|C-SPAN will begin special coverage at 8pmET with "a historical look at Presidents in their first year in office" followed by the address and response. Coverage will conclude at 11pmET. C-SPAN2 will air live reaction from Representatives and Senators from the Capitol.|
|ABC News' Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos anchor coverage of the address and response from D.C. with Jake Tapper, Jon Karl, and Martha Raddatz contributing. Sawyer will anchor "World News" from Washington and Terry Moran will anchor "Nightline," also from D.C., live at 11:35pmET.|
|Katie Couric will anchor coverage of the address and response at 9pmET as well as CBS' "Special Report: State of the Union" afterward. She will be joined by Jeff Greenfield and Bob Schieffer, with Chip Reid and Nancy Cordes reporting. Harry Smith will anchor "The Early Show" from Washington, D.C. tomorrow morning.|
|Fox News' Shepard Smith will anchor special coverage for FOX broadcasting starting at 9pmET. Chris Wallace will join for analysis and Shannon Bream will report from Capitol Hill.|
|Brian Williams will anchor from DC for NBC News with David Gregory. NBC News correspondents Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, and Kelly O'Donnell will also contribute.|
|Jim Lehrer anchors PBS' broadcast of the address and response at 9pmET followed by analysis from Mark Shields.|
Since we probably won't see much in the way of LGBT voices tonight, Pam Spaulding from Pam's House Blend brings us some reactions from LGBT leaders to President Obama's comments on DADT.
In reports on the confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor, numerous media outlets quoted Sen. Jeff Sessions' assertion that he would not vote for a justice who would rely on personal experience to decide cases. But Sessions voted to confirm Samuel Alito, who highlighted the importance of his personal experience during his hearing.
New York Times columnist David Brooks asserted of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "She's evangelical, but she's pretty progressive on gay and lesbian issues. She's for drilling in ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], but she talks about global warming quite a lot." But Palin has reportedly said of global warming, "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made," a position at odds with findings by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; she has also reportedly opposed giving spousal benefits to same-sex partners of public employees.
On his PBS program, Charlie Rose did not challenge Antonin Scalia's false assertion that "the press unanimously" found that, in Rose's words, George W. Bush "won that election in Florida." In fact, according to The Washington Post, data from a study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center found that under several different criteria for assessing a voter's intent, Al Gore would have received more votes than Bush after a statewide recount of all ballots "that were initially rejected by voting machines."
Despite the availability of expenditure reports showing that Sen. John McCain's campaign used a corporate jet owned by his wife's company over a seven-month period beginning in the summer of 2007, several members of the media asserted earlier this year that McCain flew coach when the campaign was low on funds.
In an April 24 PBS NewsHour report about a New York Times article that revealed "the role of military analysts on TV and in the Pentagon," Judy Woodruff stated:"[W]e invited Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and NBC to participate, but they declined our offer or did not respond." Further, according to a search of programs in Nexis, several of these outlets have yet to report on the revelations in the April 20 Times article.
On April 22, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart highlighted two recent reports concerning national security that have been largely ignored by most television news outlets and NPR: a New York Times article reporting that "the Bush administration has used" media military analysts, many of whom have clients with or seeking Pentagon contracts, "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks"; and a Government Accountability Office report that found that the "United States has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven in Pakistan's FATA."
On The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Mark Shields asserted that Sen. John McCain "emphasized a lot of places of disagreement" with President Bush during his March 26 foreign policy speech, including "the sense of communality and collegiality among nations, reaching to the allies." But neither Shields nor the others in the discussion noted any of the highly critical statements McCain made about U.S. allies who opposed the Iraq war.
During an interview with Sen. Chuck Hagel, Charlie Rose falsely asserted that Sen. John McCain "early on call[ed] for the firing of Secretary Rumsfeld." In fact, while McCain expressed "no confidence" in Rumsfeld in 2004, he did not call for him to be fired; he said the decision about whether Rumsfeld should leave was the president's.
On PBS' Washington Week, John Dickerson asserted that there will "perhaps [be] a tax increase to fix the alternative minimum tax," which he claimed "gets the Republicans very exercised and excited" because they "can go around talking about how Democrats are going to raise taxes." In fact, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has authored a proposal that would, according to the accompanying press release, "provide tax relief to more than 90 million working families through a permanent repeal of the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) and enhancement of other tax benefits." The press release also stated that Rangel's plan is "entirely revenue-neutral."