Feb
05
2009

Worldfocus Grant: No Strings Attached?

Yesterday the New York Times reported on the status of a new PBS news program Worldfocus. Amidst budget cuts at the New York station where it originates, the program has received some unusual financial support–a $1 million grant from thePeter G. Peterson Foundation. What does the funder expectto get out of it? The Times reported that

the foundation expected Worldfocus to produce reports examining how other countries have dealt with the challenges facing the United States, like healthcare and Social Security reform.

The head of the foundation, David Walker, added that the showwill maintain "total control over the content."
That's pretty standard language;what the Times should have explained is that the Peterson Foundation has for yearsspecialized in scare-mongering over the future of Social Security and warning against the perils of deficit spending.

Thus, the public broadcasteris taking funds to cover a set of issues from an institution that spends its money advocating a specific political agenda on those issues. Is this OK at PBS? The answer would seem to be yes; over the yearsFAIR has documented the network'sconflict-of-interest double standard.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.