It's clear by now, after several repeats of the same cycle, that the right doesn't really want to defund PBS. And the left, unfortunately, isn't truly interested in saving PBS, either. Why would the right defund? For a tiny investment–about a hundredth of a penny from each federal dollar–the GOP gets a leash on public broadcasting that ensures that it will never fulfill its promise to serve as a real alternative to the commercial networks. As long as public broadcasters are forced to go before Congress, hat in hand, to beg for another annual appropriation, their leaders will make sure […]
It's no secret that U.S. media outlets don't have much love for left-wing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. A PBS NewsHour segment (10/5/12) just ahead of the recent election showed just how far you could go. Correspondent Ray Suarez opened by calling the election "a watershed moment for the world's second-largest oil-producing nation and a critical supplier of crude oil to the U.S"–I guess we know what makes Venezuela important to the United States. Chavez has "openly antagonizing the United States as he's cozied up to the world's most isolated regimes." And Suarez has an example: He's continued to thwart American efforts […]
Asked in the October 3 debate what he would do to address the federal budget deficit, Mitt Romney named two specific areas that he would cut: He would repeal Obamacare–which according to the Congressional Budget Office would actually increase the 10-year deficit by $109 billion–and eliminate funding for PBS, which, along with other forms of public media funded through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, gets $445 million from the federal government annually–approximately 0.012 percent of the federal budget. Here's Romney addressing moderator Jim Lehrer: I'm sorry, Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other […]
The new episode of FAIR TV is here, featuring misreporting on Iran's nuclear energy program, NewsHour lecturing labor leaders on Labor Day, and some of the most embarrassing biographical puffery for a presidential candidate you're likely to ever hear. Please share it with your friends, and let us know what you think in comments below.
When it comes to journalists socializing and otherwise cozying up to the powerful, there's not a lot new under the sun. More than 20 years ago, then-FAIR associates Martin Lee and Norman Solomon wrote about it in their book Unreliable Sources: TV's top journalists are part of the wealthy and influential elite, often socializing with people they're supposed to be scrutinizing. At an awards banquet for the Radio & Television Correspondents Association during Reagan's second term, Kathleen Sullivan (at the time with ABC) was photographed on the arm of then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, while CBS Face the Nation host Lesley Stahl […]
Some campaign disputes can be tricky to sort out. Others are not. That's why media coverage that takes the both-sides-have-a-point approach can be so disappointing, if not dangerous. Take Mitt Romney's recent claim that the White House was "gutting" the work requirements in the 1996 welfare "reform" law. As a Romney TV ad put it: "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check." That charge earned a "Pants on Fire" from PolitiFact (8/7/12), which pointed out that the policy change that is supposedly at issue […]
PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff introduced a panel discussion on the Supreme Court's Affordable Care Act decision (6/28/12) as a chance to get "some reaction and assessment from those who will deal with the law or had worked to overturn it." That set-up sounded like it a pretty narrow discussion was to follow–and it did. At the table was Karen Ignani, president of the insurance industry lobby America's Health Insurance Plans. So was former Republican Florida attorney general Bill McCollum, who sued the White House over the law. There was one advocate of Obamacare–Ron Pollack of Families USA, a group […]
Last night (6/4/12) the PBS NewsHour launched "a series about teachers, testing and accountability in public schools." And while I'm sure there will be some bright spots, the rollout was a reminder of some of the big problems in media coverage of public education. At the top of the show anchor Jeffrey Brown announced, "Our first part includes the views of one of the more outspoken reformers and players in this debate." That terminology, so prevalent in the schools debates, should be avoided. If the corporate-minded, pro-charter test-obsessed are the "reformers," then what does that make someone who disagrees with […]
Seen FAIR's recent alert about Dow's sponsorship of a PBS series? Want to do something about it? Write to the ombudsman to encourage an investigation. And paste your letter in the comments section below.
Forget the polls and the horserace for a second. In this election season, the big winners will be big media. As most people should know–but media don't tell you very often–much of the money that flows into and around the campaigns is used to buy advertising. Which means that television and radio stations make a lot of money during the campaign season. There are attempts to shine a light on this arrangement–such as the effort to make TV stations post advertising data online (something that–surprise, surprise!–TV stations don't care for). That's what made this exchange on public television's Nightly Business […]
One of the most troubling aspects of all the media coverage of an attack on Iran is that it can make a radically destabilizing act of unprovoked war seem like just another policy choice. I thought of this when I saw a PBS NewsHour segment (3/28/12) that set out to ponder the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran. PBS reporter Margaret Warner oddly framed Israeli public opinion this way: Though the Iranian regime has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, recent polls in Israel show only 19 percent would support their government attacking Iran unilaterally. Hearing that, you might […]
In the New York Times (3/19/12), Elizabeth Jensen reports on some unusual scheduling decisions at PBS that are diminishing the audience for some of the best stuff you're likely to see on public television–the acclaimed documentary series Independent Lens and POV: After being bumped from Tuesday nights to a hodgepodge of time slots, Independent Lens has lost 39 percent of its average audience for new episodes this season, compared with a year ago, according to Nielsen ratings provided by ITVS, which produces the series. Jensen's report–which expanded on news first reported by the public broadcasting newspaper Current–noted that many prominent […]
By the tone of some of the media coverage, you might have thought Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a plan to slash military spending yesterday. On the front page of USA Today (1/27/12), under the headline "Panetta Backs Far Leaner Military," readers learn in the first paragraph: The Pentagon's new plan to cut Defense spending means a reduction of 100,000 troops, the retiring of ships and planes and closing of bases–moves that the Defense secretary said would not compromise security. The piece quotes critics of the cuts like Sen. Joe Lieberman and an analyst at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute. […]