The Playgoer: PBS, NPR... R.I.P.?

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Monday, May 16, 2005

PBS, NPR... R.I.P.?

Another installment today in the adventures of Kevin Tomlinson, the White House's man to "fix" the Public Broadcasting Corporation. (Part of that great Republican tradition taking care of the agencies they hate by appointing jerks to run them by destroying them from within--James Watt, anyone? Reagan's Interior Secretary.) Now he's taking on NPR, after appointing an additional conservative "ombudsman" at PBS.

Tomlinson made his case last week for more "balance" in public broadcasting on, where else...Fox News! I guess no transcripts on The O'Reilly Factor site but a summary: "Personal Story Segment: PBS Chairman Under Fire." Aww, poor guy.

Bill O'Reilly's "last word"?

The Factor questioned whether taxpayer-funded public television is even necessary in today's marketplace. "I don't think you guys should get any money. Why don't you just compete like everybody else? You need to come up with some programming that is compelling and that people are going to want to watch."

Next segment? Bill shows footage of a high-speed chase, with the suspect shot--dead--live on tv.
"People like to watch real time crime.... The only possible upside is that people who may have criminal intent see this and say I don't want to lose my life that way."

What better argument for the existence of non-ratings, non-viewer driven (non-"competitive") television and radio in our culture.

(memo to Tomlinson: if deathly car chases makes PBS too queasy, look into live executions. They're good for moral instruction, too...)

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