How far did PBS go to avoid offending conservative funder Koch?

Conservative industrialist and Tea Party godfather David Koch has given $23 million to public television—a very, very good thing, many would argue, because government funding amounts to only around 12% of PBS' operating budget, and the fundraising climate for private sponsorship is grim. PBS is, I'd argue, the last place on television for serious news and investigative documentary filmmaking.

But Koch's backing comes with unambiguous pressure to alter the network's editorial content, and indeed, already has in at least one insance, according to Jane Mayer's piece in The New Yorker.

The story centers around WNET's attempts to placate Koch as it aired Alex Gibney's “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream,” a documentary critical of Koch and other "one-percenters." So critical, it was referred to as "Citizen Koch."

A spoiler regarding Koch's relationship with the PBS affiliate whose show aired the documentary: On Thursday, May 16th, WNET’s board of directors "quietly accepted [Koch's] resignation," the result of his "unwillingness to back a media organization that had so unsparingly covered its sponsor."

The Koch brothers are eyeing a number of large, struggling US newspapers as possible acquisition targets.

If they buy out a string of companies like the Los Angeles Times, how will that change news?

Alex Gibney's film is embedded below.

(Illustration by Daniel Hertzberg for the New Yorker. Disclosure: I've worked on a few PBS projects, and still do from time to time. )


  1. Hopefully it will make the news a little more balanced.  Even most large papers these days will acknowledge that the vast majority of their writers and editors lean ‘left’.  That can’t be a good thing.

    1. Journalists have a fuller picture and therefore know where the facts are so naturally they lean to the truth.

      1.  I would argue that “Journalists have a fuller picture and therefore know where the facts are” is incredible hubris.  I would think that the rise of citizen journalists, bloggers, handicams, etc. has revealed that the opposite is true.

          1. In theory, yes.  In practice, journalists’ qualifications are useless, since they’re no longer permitted to practice their trade – incisive investigation is useless if every story is edited down to party-line-stupidity.

          1.  This is not the website to post anything even and inch right of Moderate Liberal and expect a civil response. Be prepared for this kind of backlash no matter what you say.

          2. SumAnon: Especially if it’s utter bollocks, which this clearly is. I
            give you as supporting evidence, any Murdoch paper, and the Daily Mail,
            plus it’s slightly less swivel-eyed sister, the Express.. You can
            hadaway and shite if you’re seriously purporting that the Mail’s editors
            have trouble controlling their unruly, ‘left leaning staff’.
            (P.S apologies Gallo, hateful Disqus nesting is hateful)

          3. Aww, I got here too late and the guy you are replying to has already been deleted. Now I am slightly curious as to what sort of a troll this was.

            But only slightly. :)

          4. To sum up what you missed:

            “Here are links from far right websites (one of which had a “Jihad Watch” link at the top) to show how left leaning The Media is.  Therefore I have your precious Citations.  And therefore You Are Wrong.  Ha!”

        1. Alex Jones is the one who filled me in on the fundamental bias of the lamestream media and the sheeple. OH THE SHEEPLE.

      1. The leftward lean of the mainstream broadcast media is not news.  Tim Groseclose’s book-length treatment of his peer reviewed study, “Left Turn,” details this leftward swing quite well.  Beyond that, a Pew poll from about 10 years ago shows more liberals and self-identified moderates in newsrooms than are in the general population, and a dearth of conservatives (  An MSNBC report looked at 143 journalists who made political donations, identifying 125 going to Democratic/liberal causes, only 16 to Republican/conservative, with 2 giving to both. (  More Pew shows significantly more Democrats than Republicans among journalists, not matching up with national numbers. (  Clark Hoyt, as New York Times ombudsman, even agreed. (

        The media is liberal.  This isn’t really a debate.

        1.  Yeah and conservative Democrats like to fancy themselves and The President as “liberals”, and people who are actually right wing ideologically like to consider themselves “moderates” or pragmatic centrist types when polled. Garbage in garbage out. So many of the famous “liberal” pundits and journos embarrassed over and over again by their pro-war positions and embrace of neoliberal economic ideology.

          Liberal in the sense that they’re urban/cosmopolitan writers that are “socially” liberal or interested in identity politics. That much is fair, but not “liberal” or “progressive” at all.

          Clark Hoyt, as New York Times ombudsman, even agreed.

          Ah yes, the same venerable institution (along with tons of “liberal” pundits) that helped sell the invasion of Iraq  for George Bush…..

          1. Maybe things (ie, terminology) have changed between Hayek’s death and the age of Angelfire. 

            Although, as an anarcho-communist (all under the socialist umbrella, I suppose), I can’t disagree with the your assessment that socialism represents one segment of the left. 

          2.  “Liberal” means one thing in the US and something else in the rest of the world.

          1. I used to find that when talking to college student activists, they would be astonished to learn that when the movement against the Vietnam War emerged, that liberals were in power, and had been for decades, and that the new radicalism was understood at the time as a revolt against liberalism.

            The use of “liberal” to describe all left-of-center political tendencies in the US is a semiotic trap.

          2. The liberals had been in power for decades? So Eisenhower was a liberal? Roosevelt and Truman were social democrats, and Johnson did try to continue their domestic policies, but saying that the hippy movement was a revolt against “liberalism” is kind of, well, dumb. It lacks any real analysis and reverts to the 1980’s redefinition of liberals as being an epithet for all “people-power” policies, be it welfare for the poor or unions.

            I guess said college students were either astonished at your blinkered, black and white view of history or it was students at some private college where critical thinking was not common.

          3. How does my analysis revert to the “1980’s redefinition of liberals”? The very point I was making was that in the years since that period, “liberal” has been used to label both the political tendency hammered out by FDR in the US, and its left and radical left critics and opponents. Young activists often admire the movements of the 60s — so it’s a problem that they lump those movements together with the politics that dominated powerful institutions, with which those movements were in conflict. That’s the semiotic trap.

            You listed presidents. I was talking about broader patterns of power. Eisenhower wasn’t a liberal, and Nixon certainly wasn’t — but given the dominance of liberalism in the period, many of the policies they put forth were. I’m talking about the politics not just of the presidents, but of the broader political institutions, the top bureaucrats, the mainstream scholars and intellectuals. In the 50s and 60s, it was conventional wisdom among political scientists and sociologists that liberalism was the dominant political force, and they couldn’t foresee that changing. Intellectuals in the New Left also defined themselves against liberals, and saw liberals as the dominant political faction.

            You described Roosevelt and Truman as social democrats. While it is easy to see a lot of similarities between their policies and those of European social democrats of the period, liberals were carefully defining themselves as not socialists — and so not questioning free enterprise, eschewing nationalization of industries, and so on.

            I mentioned specifically the movement against the Vietnam War — mostly because I was thinking of conversations with student anti-war activists. This is precisely where I find the confusion about the term liberal most irritating, as liberals tend to be pro-war. The theory I’m most influenced by is that the relatively benign domestic policies endorsed by liberals in the post-WWII period were an effort to ensure domestic tranquility so that the US could fully exploit the chance to extend its influence internationally; in the prolonged economic boom in the US from 1945 to 1973, they could afford to do both.

            Remember John F. Kennedy’s fine speeches and his military adventures. That’s liberalism, as I understand the term.

            But for anti-war activists to identify their politics as liberal is a terrible mistake.

          4. Quite a long (and reasoned) answer, thanks. 

            My living in Europe all of these years has had changed my semiotics to a large degree it seems. I suspect the main difference comes in that same semiotic trap that conflated the “new radicals” with the “’68ers” of Europe. This comes after seeing reruns of the old Hawaii 5-0 last weekend, with its lens on hippies and the Vietnam war, makes me smile at my own jumping to conclusions.

            Otherwise, our views are quite alike, despite our mildly heated rhetoric. :)

        2. Tim Groseclose’s “book-length treatment” uses right-wing orgs like the Media Research Center and WorldNetDaily as sources, and surprisingly (or not) ignores respected media studies journals and programs.

          And people who point to political donations of reporters and say, “See? BIAS!” are clearly so unaware of the role that publishers and editors play in shaping the news, that they probably should avoid embarrassment and save the OMGLIEBRALMEDIA talk for freerepublic and awkward family gatherings.

        3.  Well, there are more Democrats than Republicans in the general population, so that this shows up among the ranks of journalists is not surprising.  Maybe the dividing line between left and right needs to be shifted a little so that persons who approach an issue intelligently are not classes as “left”, but as “moderate”.

        4.  The media is, by and large, moderate to liberal because they are educated people and educated people are, by and large, moderate to liberal. Education tends to do that by causing you to examine your own dogmas and respect the rule of evidence.

          But it is an unjustified step to go from “these people have liberal personal opinions” to “they deliberately slant the news in a liberal direction.” To make that claim, you need positive evidence, not just associations. As it happens, I know several journalists personally, and while most (but not all) personally lean liberal, they all endeavor to be scrupulously truthful in their reporting.

          Of course, if you twirl your head rapidly enough, I’m sure you can find evidence to the contrary. After all, Benghazi! and climate hoax.

          Trying to balance a basically nonexistent liberal bias with a healthy dose of conservative propaganda is just foolish.

      2.  Asking for a citation is rather lame. If there was one, you know full well, you would discount it. From wikipedia, to The Wall Street Journal, to The Harvard Review. You would never accept it. So why bother in remaking with an ironic request?

    2. I think the problem here is that whenever a news organization doesn’t align with conservative thinking, the right assumes they must be left. In other words, even the middle is left of right. 

      1. The problem here is not how the right views the left, but how the left (everyone else) views itself, in the extreme and distorted mirror of conservative politics, and how do you coalesce and take action on something more than just not identifying and/or agreeing with the right’s political platform?  Not even long time Republicans recognize their party anymore.  After a frustrating defeat in 2012, the GOP is scratching their heads and trying to figure out how to push their party back toward the apperance of the middle long enough to win in 2016, and where does that leave ‘The Left’?  Waiting once again to be defined by the new middle and trying to find some progressive stand that it take in opposition?

        We’ll know the Left exists in America once again, when we cease to expend  our energies being whatever the GOP says it *isn’t*, define ourselves and let any notions of ‘left’ or ‘right’ fade away.  The only path I can see for getting there is a third party.

    3. Sorry, that’s too cliched. No $5 from the PR firm for you today. Try harder next time.

      1. exactly.  do you suppose there’s also a division whose sad main job is to hit the ‘Like’ key?

        1. Robots. I had a comment on the Daily Mail the other day go from 1300 up votes to 800 down votes in six hours.

          1.  Well, to be fair, your very existence is the kind of thing to send Phillips and Littlejohn et al into frothing apoplexy. Good work, fella ;)

          2. I had half a dozen top ten comments at the Mail this week.  But voting there has very predictable patterns.  If you’re up or down more than 20 votes, it never reverses color.  Suddenly getting 2K downvotes is effectively impossible.

            And did I mention that my comment was critical (well, more snarky than critical) of an ultra-wealthy right-wing political donor?  All the other comments with 500 to 2,000 upvotes were also bombed into deep negative numbers.  Meanwhile, all the ones sucking up to him got thousands of upvotes and are now top-rated.

    4. no “balanced”!  reality isn’t ‘balanced’.  as far as possible report the @$!’n news without editorializing.  that’s what journalism was meant to be.  and that’s what’s nearly gone now (due to monied interests, like… the petro-oily Koch brothers)

    5. That’s just usually because the “left” is exposing something the “right” did wrong, and rarely the other way around (not that it doesn’t happen!)  That’s just a take from my many years of very intelligent scrutiny on the subject, btw.

    6. Yes, more “balanced”conservative influence over the media.  Wouldn’t want reality’s liberal bias infecting our news outlets, now would we?

    7. Your personal politics and how you do your job as a journalist are two different things. Or, at least, they should be. And, while I can’t speak to TV news, most newspapers have strict systems in place that are meant to ensure that you, as a reporter, aren’t the only person in charge of policing your own biases. Multiple levels of editorial weigh in on it, too. If you’re a reporter for a newspaper, not only does your boss (and your boss’s boss) have a final say over what you write, they also have a final say over what you can do in your free time (when it comes to politics and any potential conflicts of interest), and who can cover stories (if you’re too close to sources, for instance). It’s actually pretty strict. 

      Now, I’d believe that there are more liberals going to journalism school, purely from my own anecdotes. And who knows why that is. But I’ve not yet seen any real convincing evidence that newspapers and magazines are horribly liberally biased in their coverage. 

        1. posting this twice to both BoingBoing writers; is this how you present yourself as being other than an astroturfer?  so, ok, go tell the guy in the next cubical to ‘Like’ your sad links now.

          we need an updated Dante’s geography of hell to tell us what ring the astroturfers go to.

          1. You use “free thought republic” as a citation and you are telling someone else to grow up?  I needed that laugh; thank you.

        2. No one denies that journalists lean left politically, but most evidence points to a corporatist bias in their coverage more so than a specific political or ideological lean. Certainly not something one can say of the Free Republic – which contains two articles on “The Jews” on the front page and a link to something called “Jihad Watch.”

          1. Depends on what you consider left. In this climate of completely distorted definitions a person who promotes neoliberal policies, is a war hawk etc. but is not very religious and is for gay marriage is a “liberal”…  “liberal” “left” really have no real meaning in mainstream discussion.

            Free Republic is a basically a garbage dump for extremist “mom’s basement” right wing types to stroke each other and cry about the decline of the white christian population…

          2.  I’m denying it if you’re putting that forward as a generalisation. Again, verily, I say unto you, Melanie Phillips. But aye, you’re right about the rest of it.

      1. Maggie, I posted some better links up above in response to Xeni, but the checks and balances you talk about only work if the line is designed to act as a check.  If a liberal beat writer (who is somewhat autonomous in stories they can cover when there’s not obvious stuff to go after) is reporting to a liberal editor, and, like a Washington Post editor admitted, they’re “not well enough informed about conservative issues,” (, the result is an echo chamber, a bubble of sorts within the newsroom where the ideology of the group at large becomes the norm, and little else penetrates.  We should be concerned about ideological diversity in all news reporting, whether it be the Boston Globe or Boing Boing.

      2. I disagree. In my anecdotal experience working as a copy editor, I definitely saw political bias. It wasn’t necessarily in the writing, but definitely in the layout. For example, there was one designer I worked with who would choose the most unflattering photos of Pres. Bush any time she ran a story involving him.

        As a news consumer, I also saw it during the Democratic primary in 2008 — in our local Gannet-owned paper, every photo of Barack Obama showed him handsomely, every photo of Hillary Clinton made her look like a monster.

        While newsrooms and J-schools strive to curb bias as much as possible, it still exists. Furthermore, the notion of an impartial press is a relatively new one (remember William Randolph Hearst). The best reporting I’ve seen since leaving the news business 6 years ago has not come from a major media outlet.

        1.  My pick of news channels is Al Jazeera & Russia Today. As Class War is sadly no more, there isn’t a newspaper I can stand…

    8.  Better that they have wealthy overlords controlling them than they express themselves.

    9. Oh, but The Tribune Company and its owners (JP Morgan Chase, Oaktree Capital etc..) would naturally want to promote leftism via their media outlets!  What can’t you all see it! Thank you for being a truth teller: Joseph F. Emmerth

      WGN is planting leftist subliminal messages in Cubs broadcasts! It’s true!!  Sam Zell? A secret leftist! His donations to free market think tanks are just a front!  Joesph will tell us the truuuuuuuuuth!

    10.  Wait a minute. . .  I thought the latest talking point is that the Koch Brothers aren’t conservative.  They support gay marriage and stuff.  So the claim that they are right wing zealots was just scurrilous lies from the evil liberals.

      Did I get that wrong?

    11. It’s true.  Writers and editors lean left. That’s because reality has a liberal bias.

      The republican party at present is largely built on pandering to irrational fears and religious dogma.  Therefore, the very act of attempting to discern truth is now “liberal”.

    12. Anyone claiming that the media in the United States “leans left” is so far right of centre that they suffer from an Overton window shift.

    13. Even most large papers these days will acknowledge that the vast majority of their writers and editors lean ‘left’.

      By ‘left’, do you mean three klicks right of Richard Nixon?

    14.  Sorry, but the problem is in the other direction.  The writers lean left, but since the owners are usually the worst examples of the 0.1% it doesn’t make any difference.  Editorial policy is set from on high, and no awkward facts are permitted to change it.

      Looking at the biggest circulation papers here in the UK, I see… well, too many to count, but the biggest are all famously and vilely right-wing, and I can’t even name a left-leaning one off the top of my head.  (If I just stick to the “serious” papers it’s more balanced, but there’s still only one left-leaning to two right, and it’s got a smaller circulation and less funding.)

    15.  But the conservatives who push this meme will admit that, on balance, the papers aren’t unfair to them; perhaps even a little gentle.  What “everybody knows” often ain’t so.

    16.  Not sure what “it” is in your comment, but the US mainstream media is not “left”, and its not “right” either:  its pro-corporate and pro-capital.  All of the MSM are controlled by billionaires and multinational media empires and that is why we don’t get real news from them anymore.  Your idea that journalists control what is published and reported on is naive at best.  An argument can be made that most journalists are left-leaning in terms of social policy — pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro civil rights, pro women’s rights — but with regard to economics that is hardly the case, and in the few cases where it may be true those journalists have to leave the MSM in order to publish work on those subjects.  I guess its too bad for you that our country is increasingly liberal on social issues.  I’m sure you’d like to go back to the wonderful golden age when the poors kept their mouths shut or were killed, women were property, gays were closeted, and abortion was only available to the wealthy.  Oh well. 

      The fight of our era is for economic justice.  This documentary, and the resulting backlash by wealthy interests, is testimony to the centrality of this fight.  Our politics, media and culture have been consumed by billionaire capitalist interests and our democracy has withered as a result.  Obama supports socially left policies because his money-masters also support those rights.  But just watch what he does on economic issues to see how those same money-masters feel about taxes and reigning in our financial criminals. 

      Your left/right comparisons are meaningless in today’s society where the social issues of the past decades have been decisively won by the liberal side.   Even the right-wing paramour George W Bush refused to nominate hardline anti-abortion supreme court justices.  The right has been on the wrong side of social history, and now it trumpets people like Paul Ryan who wish to crush the middle class and poor while transferring even more to the super-wealthy, with working class republicans cheering him on.  How stupid and wrong can some people be?  100% stupid and wrong apparently.

      1. Amen. The elite doesn’t care about social/identity politics, they just want to extract as much wealth from Americans as possible.

    17. The Koches will make the news a little more balanced.

      The Koches.  Will Make. The News. A Little More Balanced.


      Doesn’t work when I say it fast or slow.

      That sentence does not compute.

      1. All the words make sense when you look at them alone, but when you put them together like that I just can’t comprehend them.

  2. $23 million [≈ Typical endowment (liberal-arts university)] 
    THANKS, Dictionary of Numbers!

  3. The 12% Federal funding shouldn’t exist at all. NPR and PBS are, like all politically funded organizations, mouthpieces for their funding sources. Regardless of whether the Kochs or Soros fund them, the fact that tax dollars are underwriting political speech should be anathema to all. The government should be silent when it comes to expressing and/or endorsing political viewpoints left or right. 

    If NPR were clearly leaning to the right, the left would more easily see the truth of that.

    1. None other than Bill Moyers has suggested (as of 2007, anyway, when I heard the interview) that NPR would be better off without Federal funding, though not really for the reasons you give — more that it would be free of any influence.  Of course, then Koch or whoever would step in… Though in Moyers’ case his show is sponsored by some insurance company, had been for years and (he claims) they know what he does and they’re happy with the relationship.

      When I mentioned this to a right-leaning friend who was critical of Federal funding for CPB/NPR he pooh-poohed it. something to the effect that the market wouldn’t support it (in spite of Moyers’ example).

      1. I think he has a point. I mean the reason for federal funding for many things is that the market will not support it (at least without corrupting it in the name of profit.) Pure research, public education, public roads, etc.

        I can see Moyer’s point about federal influence also being a thing to be concerned about but at least voters have some control over that and it tends to be fairly transparent compared to the corporate sponsorship world.

        It just comes down to a question of is public media a public good? Do we recoup our investment of tax dollars through a better informed citizenry? Or does corporate and independent media do a “good enough” job?

        1. My point (which I’m sure was unclear) was that when presented with Moyers’ advocating no federal funds and getting by with his own sponsor, he (my friend) moved the goalposts.

          I guess I could’ve brought up Washington Times‘s business model.

        2. The problem is that there isn’t enough federal funding to be free of private interests, but there is enough to cause people to be concerned about federal funding.  I know people that won’t donate to NPR because they figure they’re already paying taxes for it.  Why not cut the last remaining bits of federal funding and remove the excuse?

          1. Are you sure these people you know aren’t just giving you a conveniently moral-sounding excuse to cover up their lack of desire to donate, no matter the circumstances?

        3.  Given how loathesome the BBC has become, I’m less inclined to vehemently argue for ‘yes, public media = good’ these days.

          1.  Any and all of its news reporting, on any broadcast medium. The TV news is, obviously, the worst culprit, being basically Pravda for the incumbent party (indistinguishable tribes of bastards that they are), but the radio is no different. The shift in how the BBC has reported the news over even the last five years is incredible, and incredibly depressing.

          2. Upthreading, since we’ve hit the depth limit…
            “The shift in how the BBC has reported the news over even the last five years is incredible, and incredibly depressing.”

            I can honestly say I’ve not felt that. I’ve been listening to the BBC (World Service, not being native to the land of rain and Stilton) for around a decade now. I can’t point to any significant shift in coverage style or subject.

    2. This is hilarious to me, because my left-leaning friends on Facebook were just recently posting a bunch of stuff about how NPR is a mouthpiece for the right. 

      When both sides say that, as a journalist, I assume that the particular news outlet is doing something right. 

      1. I would describe NPR’s gestalt as moderately left-leaning on social issues and centrist on economic issue (or slightly right-of-center on economic issues internationally). Which is fine with me because I’m socially very liberal on everything except gun control (on which I’m mildly right-of-center), and my economic stances range from mildly left-leaning to lower-case libertarian. NPR often challenges my viewpoints with thoughtful counterpoints. I try to regularly expose myself to outlooks different from my own and remember that just because I disagree with someone doesn’t make them an idiot or a troll.

        It doesn’t surprise me when some (not all) people who are entirely far left or far right dismiss NPR as a mouthpiece for the opposition. There will always be a certain percentage of embubbled people on either side of the spectrum who will see any disagreement with themselves as propaganda.

        1.  I disagree with some of your political stances, but admire your reasoned and sensible comment. Or, you know, MNAAAAAHG!!! U R SOOO RONG!!!!!1

          1. I don’t think far lefties or far righties are all embubbled. I don’t even think it’s most of them. Just because they happen to fall far to one side of a highly contrived spectrum doesn’t make them fanatics. Rather, I suspect it’s a vocal minority that does most of the shouting on either side. But even non-fanatics can become insulated. I find myself doing it sometimes, and that, to me, is a sign that it’s time to listen with an open and critical ear to my opponents and other people outside the groups I gravitate towards.

            “If you speak with a cunning mouth, I listen with a cunning ear” ~ Annang (Nigerian) Proverb

      2.  “Mouthpiece for the right” no. Kinda ridiculous. Ethical issues and conflict of interests, most definitely.

        They also routinely now (it didn’t used to seem so) give a platform to pundits and “experts” from *extremely* far right think tanks and organizations: Cato/Heritage, AEI etc. And answer it with some milquetoast middle of the road counterpart, IF they counter it at all. This skews the conversation right. There’s no leftist or progressive voice on NPR, but there are plenty of neoliberals getting to have their say.

        1. My experience has been that far right and far left commentators are reluctant to talk to each other – perhaps they think they’re zombies – forcing broadcasters to bring in centrists to provide any counterpoint.

          There’s no leftist or progressive voice on NPR, but there are plenty of neoliberals getting to have their say.

          The problem with these terms we’re using is that they’re both subjective and nebulous; like tying to box a cloud. A better question, IMHO, would be whether a particular outlet provides useful information and thoughtful opinion than whether they’re “fair and balanced”.

      3. Maggie, the issue isn’t whether NPR / PBS is perceived  as left or right. It’s the fact the federal funds are being spent on political speech.  

        The government has no business engaging in or suppressing political discussions. It’s an inappropriate use of public funds to spend those funds to the benefit of one political group over another. 

    3. So much wrong with your post that one hardly knows where to start.  Federal funding does not constitute expression or endorsement.  To the extent that you have even defined the term, NPR and PBS are not “politically funded organizations”, receiving the lion’s share of their funding from ‘viewers like you.’  Public Broadcast is protected and supported for the public benefit.  NPR doesn’t clearly lean in either direction, negating both your premises that this is federal funding of a political view, and that there is any underlying ‘truth’ to which you speak of.

  4. That’s 100% false.  PBS and NPR are simply non-commercial.  They don’t lean in a political direction.

    1. They mainly get by on donations, though, and the lion’s share of those donations comes from bigo companies or other organizations.  Organizations that, as this story shows, are more than happy to try and affect PBS’s programming in their favor

  5. NPR was started as a haven from advertiser pressure. It’s too bad that it’s lost so much government funding that it needs to rely on companies and people who expect to exert pressure on content.

    1. yes indeed.  and i’m willing to go up one tinfoil-hat notch and say that the lost government funding was the direct result of ‘campaign’ funding from companies that wanted no public voice lacking corporate funding.

  6. “On Thursday, May 16th, WNET’s board of directors ‘quietly accepted his resignation,'”

    Whose resignation?  It’s not clear from the article itself, either.  Koch’s?  Gibney’s?

  7. Seems like people have forgotten how the Bush Administration gutted PBS because of their supposed left-leaning, to the point where right-wing political hack, and close friend of Karl Rove, Ken Tomlinson was appointed to lead PBS to do just this.

    And  for good measure they drove Bill Moyers off the air. So, of course, both sides do it, and there should be no bias in the left wing media, which makes purging anybody to the left of Ron Fournier a bipartisan necessity. Uh huh.

  8. A corporate media rife with leftists that seems to have absolutely no influence in stopping neoliberal and regressive policy from dominating this country…..

    Yeah..  Something does not add up…

    1. In America’s strive to be bigger & better at ALL THE THINGS! was a concerted effort to be even more mental than Italians as far as politics goes, as far as I can see. (kind of a joke, kind of true)

  9. There were reverberations on the West Coast, too, at the headquarters of ITVS. “Neal Shapiro was on a rampage against ITVS,” a public-television executive said. In an effort to placate him, ITVS sent him a box of candy. “It was delicious,” Shapiro told me.

    The sticky underbelly of the left-wing candy consortium strikes again! Who can fill the gaping cavities in journalistic integrity while so many delicious, sinister sweets pass right under our noses?

  10. thankyou boingboing and Xeni. i would most likely have missed this even if i did own a
    “working” tv. obviously i enjoyed this documentary – especially the pacing and level tone
    of presentation.

  11. “Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable,” long a great journalistic motto, doesn’t seem to be something today’s rightwing would be caught saying, unless by afflicted they mean corporations.

    1. Sadly so true. Comforting the afflicted, let alone paying much of any attention at all to them, is also sadly absent from the list of current journalistic priorities. So much for the idea of a liberal “lamestream” media.

  12. The news often reflects what its consumer wants.
    X News is popular with a demographic who ‘believes’ a certain line of thinking.
    If they express anything outside of that comfortable box, the demographic reacts poorly.

    PBS is one of the few not entirely bought off media organizations.  Yes some shows might lean 1 way or another, but that is the only criticism I hear.  Not that they are lying or spinning, just reporting on things that make some people cranky because it challenges their world view.

    Oh we did a poll and they lean left or right… does that matter? 
    Did you check which way the editor leans? 
    Did you check which way the owner leans?
    Did you check to see if the story was actually true? 
    Does this last one matter more than if the reporter might lean a way you dislike?

    Oh bias bias bias!  It always comes back to the bias.  PBS gets Federal Dollars so it HAS to be giving only Obama’s side… and you believe that because if your people held the power people would say it about them.
    Because people cling to beliefs, even ones proven to be wrong, tighter when challenged, it is impossible to have an honest discussion.

    The world is not black and white.
    The world isn’t left and right.
    And expending more time on this debate over it has to be one over the other takes away from being able to get to the actual issue.

    More time is spent arguing what side the reporter represents than is the report true… that’s pretty screwed up.

  13. I’m reminded how Ted Turner gave $1Billion to the UN, in drops of $100Million/year for 10 years.  In other words, Ted Turner wasted $1Billion.

    Imagine:  he could’ve endowed all public television and radio from now till the 12th of forever. Fewer pledge drives and complete independence from the reptilian clutches of the Brothers Koch.

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