Gigot to Tomlinson: "[T]hank [you] for defending the importance of balance and diversity on public television"

Video ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

On PBS' Journal Editorial Report, host Paul A. Gigot thanked former CPB chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson "for defending the importance of balance and diversity on public television." Tomlinson stepped down from the CPB board after an investigation alleged that he committed legal and ethical violations while chairman.

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During the final broadcast of the Public Broadcasting Service's (PBS) Journal Editorial Report on December 2, host Paul A. Gigot, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, thanked former Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson "for defending the importance of balance and diversity on public television." Tomlinson stepped down as chairman when his term ended in September. He subsequently left the CPB board of directors on November 3 after CPB inspector general (IG) Kenneth A. Konz presented the board with the preliminary findings of his investigation into alleged legal and ethical violations by Tomlinson.

As Media Matters For America has noted, the IG's final report alleges that Tomlinson violated federal law by dealing directly with Gigot while PBS was negotiating with the Journal over the creation of what became The Journal Editorial Report. The IG's final report, issued November 17, alleges, among other things, that Tomlinson "violated statutory provisions and the Director's Code of Ethics by dealing directly with one of the creators [Gigot] of a new public affairs program [The Journal Editorial Report] during negotiations with PBS and the CPB over creating the show." According to the report:

Our review also showed that the former Chairman had been dealing directly with the former PBS commentator during this same time period [in which the negotiations were taking place]. The former Chairman advised him about strategies for getting his own show and even suggested a format modeled after "NOW with Bill Moyers," including a panel and remote reporting. At the same time, he admonished CPB senior executive staff not to interfere with his deal to bring a balancing program to PBS. These actions raise questions about the extent of the former Chairman's involvement in selecting and funding of "The Journal Editorial Report." Specifically, the questions involve whether he breached his fiduciary responsibilities, was directly involved programming decisions, influenced the program format increasing the cost of the program, and exceeded his role as a Board member in directing the actions of CPB staff.

The report also alleges that Tomlinson hired a consultant without CPB board authorization, a violation of CPB bylaws, initially to evaluate, for "objectivity and balance," PBS' NOW with Bill Moyers. The consultant's review was later expanded to include three additional programs -- one broadcast by PBS and two by National Public Radio (NPR). The IG also reported that Tomlinson employed, in violation of the Public Broadcasting Act, a "political test" in hiring former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman Patricia de Stacy Harrison as CPB president and chief executive officer.

The Journal Editorial Report will resume broadcasting in January 2006 in a new slot on Fox News.

From the December 2 broadcast of PBS' The Journal Editorial Report:

GIGOT: This is our last show on PBS, and we have many people to thank for helping us during the 15 months that we have been invited into your homes. Our executive producer, Paul Friedman, and his talented crew, helped us to sharpen our thinking and made us look and sound better than we had a right to expect. Our sponsors, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Royal Dutch Shell, allowed us the freedom to speak our minds. I would especially like to thank the former chairman of the CPB, Ken Tomlinson, for defending the importance of balance and diversity on public television. To the many PBS stations that carried us around the country, thank you for your commitment to public affairs programming that represents more than one point of view. We wish every station shared that commitment.

Media Matters 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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