PBS criticized for right-wing gestures

I love to watch the media practice intellectual masturbation over journalism’s artificial hegemony called “objectivity.” I also enjoy the hell out of it when the press digs itself deeper into this silly hole. Witness the throat clearing this week over Ken Auletta’s piece in The New Yorker that criticizes the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for funding two conservative programs.

Folks, my politics lean to the left, so this isn’t about right-wing chest beating. Please don’t mistake what I’m about to say as that.

In response to the news, Bill Moyers — that bastion of fairness — a man without a political bone in his body — defender of all things journalistically sacred — said, “This is the first time in my 32 years in public broadcasting that [the Corporation for Public Broadcasting] has ordered up programs for ideological instead of journalistic reasons.”

What? Oh really, Bill?

In an article published in several places (including such unbiased outlets as AlterNet and mediachannel.org — “the global network for democratic media”) Common Cause President and CEO Chellie Pingree notes, “We cannot let partisans drive an ideological stake in the heart of public broadcasting. At a time when media consolidation makes it more and more difficult for Americans to hear diverse points of view and to be exposed to substantive, challenging journalism, we must save public broadcasting from these attempts to meddle with its editorial independence.” Common Cause is, of course, another voice for fairness in media.

Auletta himself argues, “Like a chameleon that turns the color of its surroundings to avoid predators, the Public Broadcasting System — for decades perceived as a bastion of liberal elites — is changing itself into a conservative animal in George W. Bush’s Washington.”

Okay, here’s the deal. There is no such thing as middle ground between ideologies. One can attempt fairness, but that’s problematic at best. Just ask the Corporation for Public Broadcasting now. PBS has always run with the liberal side of the ideological mix in the U.S. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. That’s why this attempt by CPB to swing both ways is such a threat to lefties. It feels like they’re losing their grip, not that the right is pushing PBS into conservatism. These complaints are, to be kind, disingenuous, because they portend to come from the mythical middle ground of “editorial independence” or journalistic purity. Nonsense. Or I should say, “bullshit!”

Bill Moyers, Chellie Pingree, and a host of others feel their fatted calf being whacked. It’s fine to complain about that, but let’s at least be honest about it.

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