The New York Times seems highly upset that anyone would question the existence or objectivity of what they call the Public Broadcasting "Service." Last week, the paper put PBS's internal worries on Page One, concerned that pressure from conservatives threatens to send PBS lurching -- horrors! -- to the right.
Liberal lobbyists inside and outside PBS, including the Times editorial page, are once again trying to convince the Congress to allow them to create a massive $5 billion endowment so they may achieve "financial independence." When PBS stations go digital, requiring less space on the broadcast spectrum, they want to sell their surplus spectrum and keep the profits. Fiscal conservatives should insist that PBS stations should return any proceeds from spectrum sales directly to the U.S. taxpayers, who massively subsidized the network in the first place.
The Times news report on PBS claimed even "conservatives" support an endowment, and then cited Norman Ornstein, whose latest "conservative" claim is that House Speaker Dennis Hastert is an autocrat, "the Vladimir Putin of American Politics." If that were true, Vladimir Hastert would have first had his soldiers seize the state-funded liberal press at PBS.
Creating a PBS endowment was a terrible idea 10 years ago, and it still is. We need a public broadcasting system that is held more accountable to the taxpayers who fund it, not less. An endowment would only make PBS more insular, and the PBS bureaucracy is already as insular as the Harvard faculty lounge.
Check out the new panel PBS has just created to study their editorial "integrity" and "independence." It's chock full of liberal media establishment types, including former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw, former CBS reporter Marvin Kalb, former Washington Post ombudsman Geneva Overholser, and former NBC reporter/Janet Reno spokesman Carl Stern. Their consultant is snooty former Los Angeles Times media reporter Tom Rosenstiel, who's never found a liberal-bias debate he didn't despise. There's not one recognizable conservative in the whole "independence" crusade.
But the New York Times gets even sillier on its editorial page, deriding PBS critics as "ultraconservatives" for objecting to taxpayer funding of Bill Moyers. "When conservatives attacked the respected Bill Moyers, labeling him a dangerous liberal, PBS offered Tucker Carlson and Paul Gigot. Whatever slight liberal flavor might be dug out of the Moyers broadcasts, those are openly ideological conservative editorialists."