Tomlinson Defends Conservative Addition


Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson says he is trying to balance the liberal leaning of public broadcasting, not tilt it in the other direction.

Tomlinson appeared on Washington noncommercial station WAMU's syndicated Diane Rehm Show Wednesday to defend himself from criticisms he is orchestrating a conservative makeover of noncommercial broadcasting.

Tomlinson evoked Fox News, as he has before, in praising The NewsHour and Jim Lehrer as the original "We report, you decide" balanced news program, but conceded he believed that Bill Moyers practiced "liberal advocacy journalism," which needed to be balanced by conservative programming on public TV.

Tomlinson also praised Frontline, saying he was not trying to quash investigative journalism.

Tomlinson said he was simply trying to insure more balanced news coverage on noncommercial radio and TV. But his move to employ an outside consultant to check Moyers' Now program for bias last fall--Moyers has since exited the show--set him at odds with PBS President Pat Mitchell, he said.

CPB allocated $5 million for a program hosted by The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot, which Tomlinson said obviated the need for keeping tabs on Now since it was now balanced by a conservative show.

Center for Digital Democracy's Jeff Chester managed to be the first caller when Rehm opened up the show to her audience.

Among other criticisms, Chester pointed out that Tomlinson is chairman of both CPB, which is supposed to be apolitical, and is a "propagandist"--Chester's word--as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees government-issued information overseas.

Tomlinson didn't see a conflict, saying those services, which include VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, were news outlets.