Two of the hardest-hitting shows on public television--Now and the Bill Moyers Journal--will be going off the air in April, as FAIR reported last month (Action Alert, 12/15/09). The two shows stand out as examples of what PBS public affairs programs should be: unflinching independent journalism and analysis. The shows have covered poverty, war and media consolidation--not to mention serious discussions of subjects taboo elsewhere, like the case for impeaching George W. Bush.
PBS has offered very little explanation of what will replace these shows, saying only that they will announce changes sometime this month. But one line-up change many PBS viewers will see this February is the addition of Ideas in Action--a show produced by the George W. Bush Institute, part of the new presidential library in Dallas.
According to Danny Shea (Huffington Post, 12/22/09), the institute's executive director, James Glassman, will host the show; though not distributed by PBS, it's scheduled to appear on many public TV stations. Shea reported that the first episode would be "a discussion on pay for performance in education."
Glassman, a longtime fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, is perhaps best known for his remarkably optimistic--and wrong--book Dow 36,000. He also regularly penned op-eds for major U.S. newspapers that pushed views and policies that would directly benefit sponsors of his online news site, TechCentralStation.com (Extra!, 3-4/05).
Such conservative, corporate-friendly programming is hardly new on PBS, which has long aired shows hosted by conservatives (McLaughlin Group, Think Tank With Ben Wattenberg, Tony Brown's Journal) as well as corporate-oriented programs (Nightly Business Report, CEO Exchange, Wall Street Week With Fortune). Under Bush CPB chair Ken Tomlinson, PBS launched the Journal Editorial Report, a program that featured the Wall Street Journal's right-wing editorial board and was supposed to be a "balance" to Now--although unlike the Editorial Report, Now frequently had guests whose views differed from those of the show's producers (Extra! Update, 6/05).
With Now and the Moyers Journal going off the air, and at least one new public television offering produced by the Bush Institute, what will PBS offer viewers in the way of new, hard-hitting programming?
Please join FAIR and thousands of signatories to our petition in demanding that the shows that replace Now and the Moyers Journal provide the same kind of critical, uncompromised journalism viewers deserve--and that live up to the mission of public broadcasting.
Click here to add your voice to the petition.
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This story was published on January 12, 2010.