Today, it's clear that Nader was totally wrong (as he is so often). PBS carries almost no consumer reporting, probably because the bureaucrats who run it are too nervous about offending anyone . By contrast, there is plenty of consumer reporting on commercial TV. I criticized my employers' most valued customers for years. For heaping abuse on the people who paid us, I was given promotions.
Why? Because viewers want tough news -- even news hostile to big advertisers. Commercial television provides it because even if sponsors boycott, the money other sponsors are willing to spend to reach the viewers the reports attract makes up the loss. The free market serves its customers, and in the TV business, the customers are viewers.
PBS, on the other hand, is broadcasting by bureaucracy. This is not a good thing. We should have separation of news and state. "We wouldn't want the federal government to publish a national newspaper, writes Boaz, "why should we have a government television network and a government radio network? If anything should be kept separate from government and politics, it's the news and public affairs programming that Americans watch. When government brings us the news -- with all the inevitable bias and spin -- the government is putting its thumb on the scales of democracy. It's time for that to stop."
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