We finally have the right idea about public broadcasting in
the air. The New York Times reports that there is now a serious
call in Washington for the total abolition or privatization of
this wholly inappropriate government supported, partially tax
funded medium of Left wing propaganda.
Actually, I don’t care how Left wing any national medium
happens to be, so long as I am not forced to pay even a penny for
its upkeep. There are dozens of very prominent magazines with
a Left wing editorial policy – The Nation, Progressive, Mother
Jones, Utne Report, The New York Review of Books, to name only the
more prominent ones. In the fields of both popular and scholarly
publications, the Left still holds prominent sway, despite all the
talk about the "collapse of Socialism." But no one is forcing me
to subscribe – I do so, when I do so, because I am interested in
just how wrong intelligent people can be.
PBS and NPR – National Public Radio – in contrast, are massive
broadcast ventures, supported and partly funded by the federal
government, from taxes going to, e.g., the Corporation for Public
Contrary to what many conservatives complain about, it is not so
much the lack of balance in the programming that is so insidious. It
is that there exists a first amendment medium that people in this
country are forced to pay for.
Of course, it is undeniably true that both PBS and NPR are run
for the sake of spreading socialist ideology. These people, contrary
to what The New York Times keeps doggedly repeating, are not liberals.
A Liberal believes in, for example, civil liberties and equality of
opportunity, a free press and fairness, among other things. Liberals
lean toward socialism mostly in economic matters. The editorial tone
of nearly all PBS and NPR programming is radically socialist and, more
recently, fascist – especially when it comes to environmental and
PBS runs innumerable opinion programs, beginning and ending, of
course, with all the opportunities Bill Moyers gets for airing his
pious laments about the universe. Moyers is no liberal but an agitator
for the position that everything that is wrong with the world is due
to the United States of America. His repeated intoning about what
"we, in this country, are doing to …" is so tiresome that I simply
cannot watch him, even when he interviews people I regard interesting.
PBS’s several interesting round table programs on various facets of
our legal system is also very biased toward the left liberal agenda.
The leaders of these discussions, whose panels do manage to be balanced
– if you believe that there are only two viewpoints in America worth
telling the viewers about – are nearly all Harvard law professors and
their orientation tends always toward leftist moralizing. There are
no communists, libertarians, Muslims, Moonies or any other theorists
who don’t fit the mainstream balance, outside of some militant
feminists and multiculturalists on these programs. And, more importantly,
no one outside the Eastern educational establishment ever appears on
them – which, frankly, annoys me, who teaches at a southern university
no one at PBS ever thinks of inviting to appear on their programs.
There are fine things, too, on PBS. And who knows, maybe it does
full justice to the intellectual market place, so balance need by no
means be the standard by which to judge it.
It is only because PBS is a government created and (partially)
funded monopoly that I fully support those who are calling for its
abolition. I would be even more enthusiastic if NPR got the axe – it
has the most whiny, openly Left wing editorial tone among all mainstream
media efforts. Its staff have just one voice, that of the smooth,
velvety Eastern intellectual. (Just listen and try to find someone
with a southern, Bronx or foreign accent, outside a few guest essayists.
But then the same phenomenon would not bother me much if found on ABC,
CNN or A&E, since I am not made to spend a dime of my life on those.)
Let us get the government out of at least one major and very
sensitive industry. There should, in short, be the same policy in
government toward media as there is toward religion – it should neither
ban nor establish any denomination, regardless of its content. Let
all geniuses in the industry like Bill Moyers and Nina Totenberg find
a job on the open market – surely there are plenty of media outlets
now. I look forward to not seeing Bill Moyers, say, on the Discovery
Channel, or, per chance, on Nick at Nite!