Mitchell Rejects Claims of Anti-Conservative Bias at PBS

May 24, 2005  •  Post A Comment

PBS President Pat Mitchell in a speech Tuesday said Corporation for Public Broadcasting Chairman Ken Tomlinson’s suggestion that PBS programming is slanted against conservatives is off base.

Ms. Mitchell delivered her remarks to the National Press Club in Washington. “The facts don’t support the case he makes,” said Ms. Mitchell. “Surveys are very clear that the American public by a large majority-80 percent-did not perceive bias in PBS’s programming. And that seems to me to rest the case.”

Ms. Mitchell said PBS will not cave in to political pressure to reshape its programming to the preferences of any party. In addition, Ms. Mitchell, who has announced plans to step down by the time her contract expires in June 2006, said she accepts that Mr. Tomlinson “is speaking out so he can widen the base of support for public television.”

Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich., and David Obey, D-Wis., recently asked CPB’s inspector general to investigate claims that Mr. Tomlinson, a Republican, has been trying to politicize PBS programming. Said Mr. Tomlinson, in response: “I welcome the call by Congressmen Dingell and Obey for the inspector general to examine issues related to my efforts to encourage public broadcasters to take more seriously the need that our current affairs lineup reflect objectivity and balance. I look forward to working with the inspector general and with the Congress to clear up with finality distortions in press reports and elsewhere about our work to bring more diversity to public broadcasting.

“There would be no debate on this issue if more programs on public television reflected the high journalistic standards of the ‘NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.'”