During a panel discussion on John King USA about PBS's decision to edit out some of Tina Fey's remarks criticizing Sarah Palin while accepting The Mark Twain Prize, Mrs. John King Dana Bash points out that this is not the first time PBS has been "accused of editing to favor Republicans" and that PBS has been accused of being too liberal. It's too bad that the panel and Bash didn't bother to point out the fact that this edit by PBS of Fey's remarks shouldn't be all that surprising to anyone paying attention since the network took a turn to the right some years ago.
That said, I don't expect anything better from anyone on CNN. Introspection as to how our media is not serving their basic purpose as the fourth estate in America isn't exactly their strong point to put it lightly. Since sadly Bill Moyers left the air at PBS... again... I'm not sure why anyone would perceive that network to be "too liberal" other than from listening to the Villager's on their television sets telling them that it is day in and day out. If anyone thinks that The McLaughlin Group or the PBS Newshour or Charlie Rose are liberal, they're not watching those shows. I consider Frontline to be fairly neutral in their reporting and that's about the extent of what I might watch on that network on any kind of a regular basis. They've got Tavis Smiley on there on a nightly basis but his show sure as hell doesn't make up for the shows that lean to the right or the loss of Bill Moyers. He just gave right wing hack Dennis Miller a sad and sorry softball interview on the same night this panel segment aired.
Here's what got ignored during this segment where they made light of the editing of Tina Fey's remarks.
A new public television program called the Journal Editorial Report, featuring writers and editors from the arch-conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page, will debut tonight on public television stations around the country. The show joins Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered, hosted by conservative CNN pundit Tucker Carlson, and a planned program featuring conservative commentator Michael Medved as part of what many see as politically motivated decisions to bring more right-wing voices to public television.
According to reports in the public broadcasting newspaper Current (1/19/04, 6/7/04) and in the New Yorker (6/7/04), conservative complaints about the alleged liberal bias of the program Now With Bill Moyers contributed to the momentum to "balance" the PBS lineup. The new programs seem to be the result of that pressure. In fact, Now will soon see its role on public television diminish, as the program is cut from one hour to 30 minutes when Moyers voluntarily leaves the program later this year. He will be replaced by co-anchor David Brancaccio, formerly of the public radio business show Marketplace, who expresses no obvious ideology. If Carlson, Medved and the staff of the Wall Street Journal editorial page are all necessary to balance the liberal Moyers, by 2005 there will be no one on PBS to balance them. Read on...
And there's this.
What can we do about the hostile takeover of the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio by the right wing?
That they have taken over is beyond dispute.
Ken Tomlinson is chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and he has succeeded in placing former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman and fellow neocon Patricia Harrison into the position of president and CEO of CPB. While we were focused on draconian budget cuts proposed by a House committee, Tomlinson and Harrison were doing their inside magic.
Literally millions of Americans sent e-mails to Congress demanding that the 25 percent cut in funding be restored. And, voila! The money was restored almost without debate.
Self-congratulatory e-mails flooded our computer screens. Eager to prove the political power of the Internet, many groups took credit for restoring the funding. In retrospect, the back-pats were premature. The battle was too easy, the results unsatisfactory. It was a set-up. As Frank Rich of the New York Times put it, Tomlinson, Bush and Harrison "castrated" public television and NPR.
We are now faced with a CPB that will mimic Fox news with its "fair and balanced" theme.
What does that mean? We got our first hint last week. The leading advocate of the Iraqi invasion, Richard Perle, will be featured on the "new" and "balanced" PBS in a made-for-television movie produced by a good friend of Perle, Brian Lapping. Lapping said that Perle is correct that "quite a lot of the preconceptions about neocons are just wrong." And, as he explained in the New York Times, the Perle film will be "mostly a journey, through his life and experiences." It will show Perle, who called journalist Sy Hersh a "terrorist," interacting with his critics who, get this, "say he was overly optimistic about American prospects in Iraq."
Full transcript via CNN.
KING: Let's pivot here to show that everybody in life needs an editor and sometimes everybody in life gets an editor. We played this for you the other night. This is Tina Fey accepting a Mark Twain award. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TINA FEY, COMEDIAN: I would be a liar and an idiot if I didn't thank Sarah Palin for helping get me here tonight. My partial resemblance and her crazy voice are the two luckiest things that have ever happened to me.
FEY: All kidding aside, I'm so proud to represent American's humor --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's Tina Fey. She's always funny. Now what we learned since then though is that PBS decided they say for time reasons to edit this part out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEY: For everybody else, it's a win-win unless you're a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us unless, you believe in evolution. You know what, I take it back. The whole thing's a disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now Ed Rollins, she's funny, she's also political. Do you take it that this was edited out because they needed to get to a certain time for the program? We face those demands every day or when they had to get to a certain time, were they political in the editing?
ROLLINS: They politically edit it. There's no question about it. PBS does that from time to time and you know whatever. At the end of the day I think Tina Fey will be very happy to have Sarah Palin's Alaska ratings, which will be her own show and I think to a certain extent they sort of made each other, and I think to a certain extent I'm happy to see her get the Mark Twain award. I'm a big fan of Tina Fey.
BASH: Is this the first time that PBS has been accused of editing --
BASH: -- to favor Republicans? I mean that's my question right. I mean are -- they're accused -- PBS is the network that's accused of being too liberal --
BORGER: They edited out something Paul McCartney said that was offensive at one point to Republicans, so probably not.
KING: Go ahead, Roland.
MARTIN: Hey John -- John, this is a perfect example of what Tina Fey said and they edited out was the funniest stuff that she said. So when people ask all the time why PBS is boring, hello. Exhibit A.
ROLLINS: I thought it was a master plan. They wanted to be boring so they could talk to all the liberal Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want you as a viewer.
KING: Here's -- here's a question I have --
MARTIN: Even my liberal conservative friends don't like boring, Ed.