The chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors misused government money on several occasions, overbilling for his time and funneling unauthorized contracts to a friend, State Department investigators concluded.
According to a summary of a report by the State Department’s inspector general released Tuesday, Kenneth Tomlinson misused government funds for two years as chairman of the organization, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other U.S. government broadcasting abroad.
Tomlinson stepped down last fall as a board member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund public television, amid allegations of promoting conservative programming.
The State Department investigation found that Tomlinson, as a political appointee to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, signed invoices worth about $245,000 for a friend without the knowledge of other board members or staff.
Tomlinson also used the board’s resources to support his private horse racing operation and overbilled the organization for his time, in some instances billing both the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the same time worked.
State investigators note in the summary of the report that the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington had decided a criminal investigation was not warranted. A civil investigation, however, on charges stemming from hiring his friend as a contractor was still pending, the summary noted.
Three Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Chris Dodd and Reps. Howard Berman and Tom Lantos, requested the inquiry last year. In a statement, Dodd called the findings “extremely disturbing.”
“Even more disturbing is that the president has yet to demand Mr. Tomlinson’s resignation, and the Justice Department has apparently declined to pursue a criminal investigation of Mr. Tomlinson’s actions,” said Dodd, D-Conn., in a statement.
Dodd, Lantos, D-Calif., and Berman, D-Calif., sent Bush a letter Tuesday urging him to remove Tomlinson from his position.
Bill Moyer had a particular run in with Tomlinson when he ended a PBS Now segment Bill Moyers’ speech to the National Conference for Media Reform
Strange things began to happen. Friends in Washington called to say that they had heard of muttered threats that the PBS reauthorization would be held off “unless Moyers is dealt with.”
“I wore my flag tonight. First time. Until now I haven’t thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans.
“Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart’s affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother’s picture on my lapel to prove her son’s love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.
“So what’s this doing here? Well, I put it on to take it back. The flag’s been hijacked and turned into a logo — the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the good housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration’s patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official lapels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao’s little red book on every official’s desk, omnipresent and unread.
What was Tomlinson about, he was the poorly disguised Trojan Horse sent behind the lines to make PBS less fair and less balanced. Careful analysis of the issues was ushered out and far right opinion was put in, PBS Scrutiny Raises Political Antennas
Late last week, CPB’s board declined to renew the contract of its chief executive, Kathleen Cox, a veteran administrator at the agency. She was replaced by Ken Ferree, a Republican who had been a top adviser to Michael Powell, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. The Ferree appointment followed the dismissals or departures in recent months of at least three other senior CPB officials, all of whom had Democratic affiliations.
“We don’t want to be alarmist, but I would be less than honest if I said there wasn’t concern here,” said one senior executive at PBS, who insisted on anonymity because CPB provides about 10 percent of its annual budget. “When you put it all together, a pattern starts to emerge.”
A “pattern starts to emerge”, purges of those that don’t bend to the ideological will of a sudden influx of new and staunchly far right management could be modestly described as a pattern. On hearing back concerns about the white collar Stalin-lite cleansing of anyone not willing to get with the program that sterling pillar of integrity and horse farming Mr. Tomlinson had this to say,
In an interview yesterday, CPB board chairman Ken Tomlinson called such comments “paranoia,” and said critics of CPB’s initiatives should “grow up.”
“We’re only seeking balance,” said Tomlinson. “I am concerned about perceptions that not all parts of the political spectrum are reflected on public broadcasting. [But] there are no hidden agendas.”
Facing the jury of public opinion can one really argue that a man who was appointed for his loyalty to party rather then experience in broadcasting and later funnled taxpayer monies into his own pocket in the brazen way that Tomlinson has, be trusted with issues of integrity such as what constitutes balanced programming. Would the jury take investment advice from the Ken Lay of news managers. It has been the conventional whining by the far right for years that PBS’s programing was decidedly liberal, most people didn’t think so,
A series of focus group sessions and two national surveys conducted by two polling firms — the Tarrance Group and Lake Snell Perry & Associates — found few perceptions of bias in PBS’s or NPR’s reporting in 2002 and 2003. For example, among people who identified themselves as “news and information consumers,” 36 percent said PBS’s coverage of the Bush administration in 2003 was “fair and balanced,” and 46 percent offered no opinion.
In the mind of the modern conservative where there is doubt of bias or absence of proof of bias that is a vacuum and that vacuum shall be filled with anti-american right-wing ideology. There is an odd ending quote from Tomlinson in the WaPo piece,
If we don’t have true excellence, we won’t be able to gain the support we need. We have to make sure that these [programming] concerns don’t prevent us from gaining the national consensus we need.”
Yes Tomlinson was eventually booted out of the CPB, but that didn’t stop the Bush administarion from placing him on the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Facts being terrible things and all, they rarely have, need, or should serve a consensus. I’m human I would love for the facts to always fall to my point of view, but being an adult citizen means accepting that they don’t. That is why no matter how much the media bends to the right it will never be enough. The right is not composed of grown-ups, its composed of rabid partisans that are never happy unless the news presents them with a regurgitation of their preconceptions about the world. Anything that jars the Right’s mental constructions must be purged. Whatever this approach to fairness is, it is not American. It is mean and nationalistic.That so-called bastion of liberalism, the institution that Ann Coulter would most like to see bombed, the NYT was as part of its duties as public watchdogs of democracy was supposed to take an unglaring look at Kenneth Y. Tomlinson’s activities at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). What did they find in this thoughtful analysis,
New York Times reporters Stephen Labaton, Lorne Manley, and Elizabeth Jensen noted that CPB recently appointed two ombudsmen “to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts.” But the article failed to note that one of the ombudsmen, William Schulz, is an avowed conservative with close ties to Tomlinson, while the other, Ken Bode, is a former journalist and a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute who last year endorsed Indiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels. In addition, the Times story made no mention that CPB’s new chief operating officer and acting president is a former Bush administration official.
Tomlinson was editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest before resigning to work on Republican Steve Forbes’ 1996 presidential campaign, according to a February 13, 1996, article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Schulz and Tomlinson worked together at Reader’s Digest, where Schulz was the Washington editor and an editor-at-large.
I think that’s called political incest. So in order to make sure that PBS is cleansed of all traces of liberalism perceived or real we have the Three Stooges of conservatism – Tomlinson, William Schulz, and Ken Bode. New ombud office met with smiles and suspicion
An April 28  NPR report stated that this was the case, reporting that CPB Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson said he hired two ombudsmen because “he wants a diversity of views along the ideological spectrum.”
A diversity of opinion? Tomlinson hires Elmer Fudd and Elmore Fudd Two and thought that was a diversity of opinion.
The whole question of what an ombudsmen is was run over like a blind deer by a Mac truck,
NPR’s Dvorkin, president of the international Organization of News Ombudsmen, says the “question of accountability” is one of the reasons his group isn’t sure if CPB’s ombudsmen qualify for membership.
Such monitors are traditionally
So Tomlinson, who never should have been appointed in place of Kathleen Cox gets into office and brings along some wiseguys and proceeds to use the CPB like the backroom of an organized crime betting parlour, thus Bush rewards him with Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Don Vito to Tomlinson’s Sonny. Just another day in Conservative America.