-By Warner Todd Huston
On February 18, our taxpayer-subsidized entertainers at PBS gave a little shoutout to one of their most stout supporters. On its Twitter feed on Friday, PBS heartily thanked the extremist left-wing activist group Moveon.org for its support in helping the broadcaster push for greater amounts of money from the pockets of the taxpayers and continue its feeding at the public trough.
PBS happily posted the following Twitter message:
Yes, a very special, taxpayer subsidized shoutout to the group responsible for calling our president “Hitler.” Isn’t it sweet that our taxpayer funded TV network is so chummy with the extremist organization responsible for saying that General Petraeus, the leader of our men and women at war, is a traitor to his country? It’s just so gosh darn touching to see that PBS and the haters at Moveon.org seem to be so simpatico on things, isn’t it? Makes ya all warm and mushy inside, right? But maybe not everyone at PBS is so choked up with gratitude for the efforts of Moveon.org, to be sure. Earlier in the week the trade news site called Adweek posted a story revealing that some PBS execs were “embarrassed” at the out loud support they were getting from the hard left-wing advocacy group.
Adweek also tries to soften the blow for PBS by quoting President and CEO of PBS Paula Kerger to the effect that “it’s a stretch” and “ploarizing” to say that PBS and Moveon.org are “all one.” But as Tim Graham notes, it is a bit rich for Kerger to act as if her network is a just-the-facts-ma’am sort of place when they’ve hosted such hard news efforts as the 2006 Dick Cheney documentary called “The Dark Side,” which was yet another Bush-lied-people-died hit piece.
I’d note that no one at PBS said they would refuse this help, though. They only wish that the help was not so public as it became. It’s not so bad being collaborators, just let’s not talk so openly about it, shall we?
Then there’s the whole muppets as political pawns incident from earlier in the week. This was where PBS took several of its lovable, iconic children’s characters to the steps of the Capitol and told kids that those eeeevil Republicans were trying to kill Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, and Arthur the Aardvark.
One Democrat even accused Republicans of “silencing Cookie Monster” by insisting that in an era where the U.S.A. is trillions in debt that PBS should make it on its own without taxpayer funds. But as Senator Jim DeMint notes, all this fearmongering that PBS is promulgating on the nation’s children is little else but hyperbole. Sesame Street, the Muppets and other PBS children’s shows would hardly find themselves out of production if the network were to lose its cash courtesy of the taxpayer.
Shows like Sesame Street are multi-million dollar enterprises capable of thriving in the private market. According to the 990 tax form all nonprofits are required to file, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 — nearly a million dollars — in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, “Sesame Street” made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.
When taxpayer funding for public broadcasting ends, rest assured, Cookie Monster will still be fed.
PBS does not need the taxpayer’s support to serve Moveon.org. But, worse, it doesn’t deserve it because PBS does not serve all of America. It serves only those Moveon.orgers and other such left-wing groups and people for which it has such warm regard. This would not be a problem if PBS supported itself by serving its customer base, of course. But since tax money goes to support it, the promulgation of a solely left-wing agenda is not serving the half of the American electorate that does not support that agenda but is forced to pay through the nose for it anyway.
Even if PBS did try to be as nonpartisan as it could — which it doesn’t — could we trust the “news” that it disgorges about the very same government responsible for funding these reports? When this occurs in other countries we scornfully call it “government propaganda.” How is PBS any different than Pravda or Izvestia, the old “news” agencies run by the Soviet Union during the Cold War?
Still, it is awfully nice that PBS had the foresight to identify its closest supporters for us to judge them by, isn’t it?
(Originally posted at BigJournalism.com)