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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chief Ken Tomlinson Demands Balance at PBS, NYTimes Cries Foul, Sees Threat to Press

Ken Tomlinson spent several decades as an investigative journalist in Washington, D.C. and capped a distinguished reporting career as managing editor of The Reader's Digest. He knows good journalism. He knows biased journalism when he sees it, too, and he's been seeing a lot of that since he joined the governing board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 2000. He became chairman of the CPB board in 2004.

Federal law requires CPB, a congressionally funded and chartered non-profit that oversees and markets public television and radio, must promote the highest standards of accuracy, balance and fairness in Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio programming. Tomlinson believes his job includes taking seriously the law that gives CPB its reason for existence. The New York Times thinks otherwise.

The Times publishes a story today that features ominous references to Tomlinson's friendliness with such disreputable characters as Paul Gigot, who oversees The Wall Street Journal's superb editorial and commentary pages, and "the Republican Chairman" of the CPB's contracting with a Bush White House communications aide to track the ideological balance of guests appearing on Bill Moyer's "Now" program.

Add it all up and the Times finds evidence that Tomlinson's "actions pose a threat to editorial independence" at PBS and NPR. Like the "World Ends; Women, Minorities Hardest Hit" mentality, there is another phobia in the Times newsroom: "GOP Demands Balance; Free Press Ends"

LaShawn Barber has more here.