A reader sends this note:
Yes, you and others may be right that PBS should be free of government money. AND, as a liberal that has studied journalism and reads mass quantities of it of every kind, I agree that there probably is a "liberal bias". (Why else would I like it, I guess.) But, the sad truth is, it is one of our few remaining national repositories of competent journalism so I personally would hate to see ANYTHING jeopardize that. It's downright scary how few voices there are left "speaking truth to power" - to steal a phrase that I think Colin Powell used to refer to the need for intelligence analysts to tell it like it is. (If you don't believe this, read the article I attached about the memo that came to light in the recent British election and reflect on how little has been made of this revelation in the American press.)
Somewhere in my rat nest of papers and files I have an academic study that was itself a compilation of other studies that looked at the understanding of the "facts" about the justification for the invasion of Iraq. The study (University of Maryland, I think) was released about six months to a year after the invasion of Iraq I think. The questions were ones like 'was there a link between el Qeada (sp?) and Iraq', 'was Sadam Hussein involved in the 9/11 attacks', etc. Of the groups that did best in the survey, the public TV and radio audience scored highest, Fox TV viewers scored worse. (If you're interested in the source, email me and I'll find it for you.)
The fact that our country was lied into a war should be a source of outrage for every American, even those that might have supported the idea. The means, in an undertaking of this consequence, can't justify the ends. At a time like this, can we afford to undermine one of the few sources that was clear on the facts? I don't think so.
I would support the addition of more conservative voices on PBS as long as they rise to the high level of journalism it practices. I think conservatives have actually undermined some of their causes by allowing sloppy and blatantly partisan outlets like Fox and talk radio bombard Americans with innuendo, hyperbole, and half-truths. As long as it has worked for them, they're content to continue no mater the consequence to our social fabric, I think. We need more open and honest debate, not less, and PBS is just as good a place as any for that. Let it be an example to the nation of how we can listen and speak HONESTLY and respectfully to each other. But, then, maybe pigs will fly.
Respond to the reader's letter.