Departing Honcho Blasts 'Liberal Bias' on US Public TV

26 September 2005

Chairman of the US Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Y Tomlinson, bade something of a soldier's farewell to the body under his command for the past three years.

Reviewing his presidentially-appointed tenure, Tomlinson said: "If I threatened the cozy atmosphere of public broadcasting over the failure to balance the liberal advocacy journalism of Bill Moyers [a public service broadcaster whose views do not always accord with those of the White House], so be it."

Addressing a luncheon sponsored by the Media Institute, a research group devoted to free-press issues, Tomlinson continued: "This thing of balance is not rocket science, and that is why I had so little tolerance for public broadcasting's inability to achieve balance. Let the record show that I gave as good as I got."

"I am highly skeptical of so-called nonpartisanship in public broadcasting because that appears to mean the same old liberals making the same old decisions," he added.

Given that its antonymn is 'reactionary', dispassionate observers within and without the US are puzzled as to why the word 'liberal' should be used as a of term of abuse in a democratic society.

Tomlinson's replacement is expected to be announced this week, the frontrunner being Cheryl F Halpern, a Republican fundraiser and former chairwoman of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Halpern, who has served on the CPB's board since 2002, is likely to maintain an equally stern stance toward liberals and others whose politics differ from her own - especially if these also conflict with her business interests.

She has been critical of National Public Radio's Middle East coverage, claiming it is slanted against Israel where her family has business interests.

At her Senate confirmation hearing two years ago, Halpern nailed her colors to the mast by calling for public broadcasting journalists to be penalized for 'editorializing' - a heinous crime condoned only in commercial broadcasters such as Art Limbaugh who reside on the other side of the political fence.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff