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PBS Takes Turn to Right With Carlson

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

After years of being called a bastion of liberalism, PBS has announced development of a new public affairs program to be hosted by Tucker Carlson, a well-known conservative author and commentator who is also a featured panelist on CNN’s “Crossfire.”
The untitled show, targeted for a June 2004 launch, will be produced by PBS affiliate WETA-TV in Washington. It is scheduled as a half-hour prime-time weekly series. According to PBS, it will be “a lively discussion of the week’s news stories from a wide range of perspectives.”
“I’m thrilled and honored to be part of PBS,” Mr. Carlson said. “I think this will be the kind of show that will make viewers want to put down the remote for half an hour.”
PBS has offered programs with a conservative bent before, including “Firing Line” with William F. Buckley(1966-1999).
PBS has been under heavy fire from the Bush administration and conservative groups recently for its airing of “Now With Bill Moyers,” a weekly magazine show.
In addition to his work on “Crossfire,” Mr. Carlson has written for newspapers and magazines, including Esquire and The New York Times. He is a former writer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock.
Mr. Carlson is considered a bit more moderate than Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. He has criticized the Fox news channel for “their meanness-and they have a lot of meanness.”
One critic of Mr. Moyers has been Robert Coonrod, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supplies a portion of PBS’s budget. He said CPB does not fund Mr. Moyers’ show.
A pilot for Mr. Carlson’s show featured 10 guests, including Ann Coulter, a political conservative, a lawyer and an author of best sellers “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton” and “Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right.”
In a ceremony at Washington’s Omni Shoreham hotel in March, titled the DisHonors Awards, which was sponsored by the right-wing Media Research Center, Ms. Coulter presented Mr. Moyers in absentia with an “I Hate You, Conservatives” statuette for being the “Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporter of 2002.”
Mr. Moyers learned from TelevisionWeek about Mr. Carlson’s show. “The more the merrier, but when are the cable channels going to start offering some alternative programming?” he said, referring to the conservative leanings of many cable news channels.
It is unknown how many PBS stations will air Mr. Carlson’s show, but it is expected to find broad acceptance, at least initially.