Fred Mann is a big fat idiot. There now, I had to say it. Ken Tomlinson (Corporation for Public Broadcasting chair) is an even bigger and fatter idiot. Ken came to public broadcasting from Reader’s Digest, where he helped weave that soporific spell that seems to envelop its readers whenever they take up the magazine. I don’t know what Bill Clinton was thinking when he hired this guy to be a CPB board member: did he hope that Ken would do for public broadcasting what he’d done so well at Reader’s Digest? Turn PBS into a shill for George Bush and family values?
Ken didn’t like the ‘liberal slant’ of PBS’ public affairs programming so he secretly hired a conservative consultant (that would be Fred) and paid him $15,000 of your and my money to compile lists of offending programs, program guests and program hosts. When I say ‘secretly,’ I mean he didn’t tell his board or any individual member At first, Ken told us he only asked Fred to keep dossiers on Bill Moyers and his Now program. But thank God for the piercing light a politician can shine on such shenanigans–Sen. Byron Dorgan yesterday revealed 50 pages of Mann’s files. He kept tabs on many PBS hosts including Tucker Carlson, a Republican. Ken’s told us before that he was only interested in rectifying the leftward slant of PBS. What he didn’t tell us was that he was also offended by people like Tucker Carlson because they criticized the president.
So for Ken, it’s not enough to have just any old Republican host or guest on a PBS program, they must also toe the party line for them to be kosher. Isn’t this what television and film were like during the McCarthy Red Channel days? Is this what we want for our public airwaves? Vendettas, witchhunts and litmus tests?
Mann’s job was “to assemble what smells like the rough draft of a blacklist.” Rich quoted Senator Dorgan: “It’s pretty scary stuff to judge media, particularly public media, by whether it’s pro or anti the president. It’s unbelievable.”
I say get Ken Tomlinson out of CPB before he does even more harm than he has already. It’s bad enough when we get semi-competent right-wing hacks running government agencies (Don Rumsfeld comes to mind), but when we get incompetent hacks there’s no telling how much more damage they can do.