How Conservatives Zealots Influence PBS Programming

Lesson in Astronomy

Lesson in Astronomy by Giuseppe Angeli. Italy, Late 1750s. I found this in a collection of paintings I have on CD. Teaching women science? Must have been some heretical liberals of the era.

By all means let’s have a national conversation about intimidating journalists, spinning the news and buying influence, How Far Did PBS Go To Avoid Offending David H. Koch?

“Park Avenue” includes a multifaceted portrait of the Koch brothers, telling the history of their family company and chronicling their many donations to universities and think tanks. It features comments from allies like Tim Phillips, the president of the Kochs’ main advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, and from activists in the Tea Party, including Representative Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota, who share the Kochs’ opposition to high taxes and regulation. (It also contains a few quotes from me; in 2010, I wrote an article about the Kochs for this magazine, noting that they were funding much of the opposition to President Barack Obama by quietly subsidizing an array of advocacy groups.)

[  ]…According to Shapiro, Koch, who rarely speaks in public, passed on the roundtable offer, saying, “I may just want to take it in and watch it, and form an opinion.” He agreed to think about contributing a written response.

Shapiro acknowledges that his call to Koch was unusual. Although many prominent New Yorkers are portrayed in “Park Avenue,” he said that he “only just called David Koch. He’s on our board. He’s the biggest main character. No one else, just David Koch. Because he’s a trustee. It’s a courtesy.” Shapiro, who joined WNET six years ago, from NBC News, added, “I can’t remember doing anything like this—I can’t remember another documentary centered around New York and key people in the city, and such controversial topics.”

PBS has standards for “editorial integrity,” and its guidelines state that “member stations are responsible for shielding the creative and editorial processes from political pressure or improper influence from funders or other sources.” A PBS spokesperson, when asked if it considered WNET’s actions appropriate, said, “WNET is in the best position to respond to this query,” noting that member stations are autonomous.

They did air the documentary, but let the Kochs and Chuck Shumer (D) have a preview, which no one else received, and a rebuttal aired afterwards. Neither the Koch,s most certainly, or Chuck lack for the resources to reply to a documentary and when did investigative documentary film makers start having their works submitted to their subjects before the public. Behavior like this muddies the waters. Is the public seeing what the filmmaker intended to show or was it toned down to placate big money donors like the Kochs (they don’t say if Shumer donates to PBS). Another aspect is that far Right zealots are sitting on the boards of this local PBS stations at all. How many decisions are made that mean a documentary is never even made. This also slays another conservative snowball of lies about PBS being run by radical leftists. It is increasingly run by anyone with lots of money a little spare time. That is not a recipe for television in the public interests. This part of a long investigative piece so I recommend reading the entire article for the clash over the film “Citizen Koch.”

The Justice Department Investigation of The AP

Admiralty Shipyard by Karl Petrovich Beggrov

Admiralty Shipyard by Karl Petrovich Beggrov. Lithograph made in the 1820s. There are some warnings about the completeness of the information, but Wikipedia has an entry on Russian history from1796–1855. This shipyard print would have been during the time of the czars or tsars, before the Bolshevik Revolution.

While more details are bound to be revealed, it looks as though the investigation of the AP by the DOJ is not as clear cut as many liberals and of course, conservatives have claimed, Stop the Leaks

The United States and its allies were trying to locate a master bomb builder affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group that was extremely difficult to penetrate. After considerable effort and danger, an agent was inserted inside the group. Although that agent succeeded in foiling one serious bombing plot against the United States, he was rendered ineffective once his existence was disclosed.

The leak of such sensitive source information not only denies us an invaluable insight into our adversaries’ plans and operations. It is also devastating to our overall ability to thwart terrorist threats, because it discourages our allies from working and sharing intelligence with us and deters would-be sources from providing intelligence about our adversaries. Unless we can demonstrate the willingness and ability to stop this kind of leak, those critical intelligence resources may be lost to us.

….The decision was made at the highest levels of the Justice Department, under longstanding regulations that are well within the boundaries of the Constitution. Having participated in similar decisions, we know that they are made after careful deliberation, because the government does not lightly seek information about a reporter’s work. Along with the obligation to investigate and prosecute government employees who violate their duty to protect operational secrets, Justice Department officials recognize the need to minimize any intrusion into the operations of the free press.

There have been differences of opinion, certainly over the last 13 years as to what the differences are between a whistle-blower and someone who has damaged national security. As some might remember the radical Right thought that conservative journalist Robert Novak did the country a service by helping the White House expose a CIA NOC agent and thus endangering her assets in the field as well. I know that with their history of lies and complete lack of conviction, conservative whining about freedom of the press are not worth addressing. Liberals who are concerned that the DOJ may have crossed a line have legitimate concerns. Though short of changing the laws that govern national security information, it does seem that the DOJ followed the rules. At least it seems that way until more information proves otherwise. This does not seem to be another scandal.

This is without doubt a scandal. he should be fired and be left to haunt the sacred halls of propaganda at some suitable outlet like Fox news or the Washington Free Beacon, A Right-Wing Mole at ABC News, Jonathan Karl and the success of the conservative media movement.

Karl came to mainstream journalism via the Collegiate Network, an organization primarily devoted to promoting and supporting right-leaning newspapers on college campuses (Extra!, 9-10/91)—such as the Rutgers paper launched by the infamous James O’Keefe (Political Correction, 1/27/10). The network, founded in 1979, is one of several projects of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which seeks to strengthen conservative ideology on college campuses. William F. Buckley was the ISI’s first president, and the current board chair is American Spectator publisher Alfred Regnery. Several leading right-wing pundits came out of Collegiate-affiliated papers, including Ann Coulter, Dinesh D’Souza, Michelle Malkin, Rich Lowry and Laura Ingraham (Washington Times, 11/28/04).

…During the rollout of Paul Ryan’s budget plan, Karl (1/26/11) gushed that the Republican media darling was “a little like the guy in the movie Dave, the accidental president who sets out to fix the budget, line by line.” And while Democrats were saying Ryan “is a villain,” Karl was clear about which side he was on: “Ryan knows what he sees…. Paul Ryan is on a mission, determined to do the seemingly impossible: actually balance the federal budget.” (Actually, even with its draconian spending cuts and absurdly optimistic economic assumptions, the Ryan plan still foresees a cumulative deficit of $62 trillion over the next half century—Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10.)

Most liberals, despite recurring cases of back pain, continue to bend over backwards to be fair. So let’s say we apply the three strikes rule to Karl. Well, he is on to strike 12 or 14. he has rolled over, laid waste to and made an absurd caricature of anything resembling journalistic ethics. Yet he still has his multimillion dollar gig at ABC. This is what conservatives consider getting ahead on merit. Parrot factless talking points, be unethical and incompetent – get a chauffeur driven Cadillac Escalade to carry your rewards to the bank