Thursday, July 14, 2005

More Evidence of PBS Bias

From Current.org, an online e-zine that specializes in public TV and radio, some hard data on Now with Bill Moyers, the program on PBS that Bill Moyers hosted until recently.
Of Now’s 19 segments on the [Iraq] war, for example, only four included anyone voicing support for it. In one of the four, a nine-minute segment on the burden the war has imposed on military families, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) got just 41 seconds to say that hard-pressed families receive help from neighbors and families as well as from the government. . . In only one of the 19 segments, an interview with Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal, did anyone mount a substantial defense of the war.

Opposing views were also scarce in Now’s economic segments. In the Lou Dobbs segment, for instance, no one appeared to counter Dobbs’ attack on outsourcing. The view held by most economists — that outsourcing is an inevitable part of international trade and that any substantial restrictions on it would push up the prices paid here for consumer goods and prompt other countries to retaliate against U.S. exports — was mentioned only in passing as part of Moyers’ questions. Similarly, in the 18-minute segment about jobs in Rockford, there were just seven seconds of voiceover narration reflecting the judgment that the economy is in excellent shape and Americans are better off than when President Bush took office — views held by roughly half the population.

In fact, of the 75 segments over six months that treated controversial issues like the Iraq War, the state of the economy and the corrupting influence of corporate money on politics, only 13 included anyone who spoke against the thrust of the segment. A 17-minute segment that accused the Pentagon of understating U.S. troops’ injuries in Iraq gave a Pentagon spokesman a total of a minute-and-a-half to reply.
But, one might ask, doesn’t Moyers have the right to be as biased as (say) Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reily?
So what of it? . . . There’s no law against lack of balance, is there?

Well, actually, there is a law exhorting balance on public TV. The Public Broadcasting Act requires CPB to “facilitate the full development” of programs of sterling characteristics “with strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature . . .” An amendment in 1992 further directs CPB to watch for imbalance and “take such steps in awarding programming grants . . . that it finds necessary.”
PBS, in other words, literally breaks the law when it presents a biased menu of programming.

Of course, Moyers Now isn’t the whole story of PBS. The Jim Lehrer Newshour is consistently fair and balanced. But an analysis that included Tucker Carlson’s show as well as Diane Rehm’s show on NPR showed that Carlson, a conservative, is quite balanced, and Rehm’s show leans sharply to the left.

Naturally, liberals are fussing and fuming about the controversy over public broadcasting. They want to protect public broadcasting from conservative attacks, since it presents the world through liberal lenses.

And after all, why shouldn’t they use government to take taxpayers’ money to promote their views?

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