By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
In remarks certain not to endear him to the liberal media, Mitt Romney has told CBS News that federal subsidies for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) have to end. AIM has argued for years that the taxpayers should not be forced to underwrite the liberal programming on public television.
The headline, “Romney: I’d cut PBS, Obamacare, arts subsidies,” is running over a Romney interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley. Asked for specific budget cuts, Romney listed “the subsidy for PBS, the subsidy for Amtrak, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts” and “the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Humanities.”
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which supports PBS, receives approximately $450 million annually from federal taxpayers.
One of the anchors of PBS coverage of the GOP convention is Gwendolyn L. “Gwen” Ifill, a liberal who has just defended David Chalian, the former Yahoo Washington bureau chief who was fired for claiming that the Romneys were “happy to have a party with black people drowning.”
Ifill tweeted that Chalian was merely guilty of one mistake and that he is “God’s gift to political journalism.” Chalian was political editor of the PBS Newshour program before he went to Yahoo News.
In addition to targeting adults with left-wing programming, PBS advertises itself as “America’s largest classroom” through “educational media” which “helps prepare children for success in school and opens up the world to them in an age-appropriate way.”
But Mary Grabar and Tina Trent revealed, in a special report for the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, that the “educational materials” from public broadcasting are characterized by an “unrelenting ideological slant” with a goal of “re-educating children into becoming far-left activists.”
They explained, “By creating primary materials through programming and reporting and then producing syllabi packaged by age group based on those primary materials, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has evolved into perhaps the single most influential voice in the nation’s classrooms, while defending their own taxpayer funding streams by doing so.”
Their examples included “…lessons that glorify the Black Panthers and riots and protests of the 1960s, present rocker Patti Smith as a ‘patriot’ for singing songs that condemn President George W. Bush, vilify Wal-Mart, and sanctify environmentalist Rachel Carson.”
PBS has a notorious liberal bias that goes back decades. In one of the more recent examples, Agustin Blazquez, a Cuban exile, ran into a series of roadblocks from PBS and the CPB when he requested funding for films on life under the Castro dictatorship and Castro’s murderous accomplice Che Guevara. We noted in a column, “Not only did public TV refuse to fund the anti-communist films, public broadcasting would not consider airing them.”
Back in 2001, then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appeared on Sesame Street “to help teach children how to resolve conflict.” He appeared on the show and shared laughs with Big Bird and the other puppets. This was followed, on January 7, 2003, by PBS airing “Kofi Annan: Center of the Storm,” a glowing portrait of the U.N. Secretary-General and his efforts to “revitalize” the U.N.
In a 2005 article, “The Case for De-Funding Public Broadcasting,” we argued that with the rise of cable television and talk radio, U.S. taxpayer underwriting of television and radio is no longer needed. The public should not have to subsidize public broadcasting through tax dollars or tax breaks.
At that time, AIM had documented how public broadcasting entities had received over $8 billion from the taxpayers since their creation.
In a previous interview with Fortune magazine, Romney explained his rationale for cutting PBS. He did not identify any examples of bias in the programs but instead argued for the elimination of the taxpayer subsidies on economic and financial grounds. He said, “Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.”
Before the interview with Fortune, at a campaign stop, Romney said, “I’m going to take all the programs. And look at how much money is associated with each one, and ask this question: Is this program so critical to America that it makes sense to borrow money from China to pay for it?”
In order to make up for lost taxpayer dollars, Romney said, “Maybe Big Bird is going to have to have advertisers.”
It would be wise, however, for Romney to quickly bone up on the liberal bias that characterizes so many PBS personalities. Jim Lehrer of PBS will moderate the first of four 2012 election debates.
It could have been worse. The New York Times reported that Ifill was “livid” she was not picked as a debate moderator.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.