Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, was watching Bill Moyers' program
on PBS in November of 2003, when he came to the realization that liberalism is too prominent on public television and radio. Predictably, the response
to Tomlinson's efforts to balance the political tone of public broadcasting has been met with some harsh criticism.
[Kenneth Y.] Tomlinson, 60, isn't just any conservative with a complaint about liberal media bias. As chairman of the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting, he heads a private but congressionally chartered agency that hands out federal funds -- $387 million this year -- to PBS, National
Public Radio and hundreds of public radio and TV stations around the country.
Tomlinson's contention -- liberalism is too prominent on public TV, radio news and talk programs while conservative ideas are marginalized -- has
been met with aggressive denials, concern and suspicion within the public broadcasting establishment. Some suggest that Tomlinson isn't really
interested in fairness as much as promoting conservative ideas.
Bearded and roly-poly, the friendly, soft-spoken Tomlinson expresses surprise at the reaction his initiatives have received. "I never started out to
make a campaign of this," he said this week, sitting in CPB's offices across from the FBI Building in downtown Washington. But he added that the
resistance he's encountered, particularly from PBS President Pat Mitchell about Moyers's program, is "symbolic of the tone-deafness" and
"intellectual dishonesty" of public broadcasting's leadership.
"This is not a controversy that I brought to public broadcasting," Tomlinson said. "There is an element within public broadcasting that brought
this controversy on itself."
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In my opinion, the political tone of public broadcasting has leaned left for as long as I have been a viewer and listener. There was a time when I
welcomed such bias as a breath of fresh air. Over the years, however, public broadcasting became predictable and increasingly strident, causing me to
tune it out completely. The most disappointing thing for me was when my favorite fine arts radio station, WWNO-FM of the University of New Orleans,
was insidiously commandeered by National Public Radio in the late eighties and early nineties.
I was both a member of the station and a student at UNO when all this came about, so I was aware of a lot more than just a gradual shift in emphasis
from music to politics. I am very pleased that someone has, at least, acknowledged this reality and is endeavoring to do something about it.
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[edit on 05/5/21 by GradyPhilpott]