Press "Enter" to skip to content

Lurching Right at PBS & NPR

The tumultuous managerial shakeup at National Public Radio headquarters for trivial verbal miscues once again has highlighted the ludicrous corporatist right-wing charge that public radio and public TV are replete with left-leaning or leftist programming.

Ludicrous, that is, unless this criticism's yardstick is the propaganda regularly exuded by the extreme right-wing Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. These “capitalists” use the public's airwaves free-of-charge to make big money.

The truth is that the frightened executives at public TV and radio have long been more hospitable to interviews with right of center or extreme right-wing and corporatist talking heads than liberal or progressive guests.

PBS's Charlie Rose has had war-loving William Kristol on 31 times, Henry Kissinger 55 times, Richard Perle ten times, the global corporatist cheerleader, Tom Friedman 70 times. Compare that guest list with Rose's interviews of widely published left of center guests — Noam Chomsky two times, William Grieder two times, Jim Hightower two times, Charlie Peters two times, Lewis Lapham three times, Bob Herbert six times, Paul Krugman 21 times, Victor Navasky one time, Mark Green five times, and Sy Hersh, once a frequent guest, has not been on since January 2005.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, the widely-quoted super-accurate drug industry critic, who is often featured on the commercial TV network shows, has never been on Rose's show. Nor has the long-time head of Citizens for Tax Justice and widely respected progressive tax analyst, Robert McIntyre.

Far more corporate executives, not known for their leftist inclinations, appear on Rose's show than do leaders of environmental, consumer, labor and poverty organizations.

In case you are wondering, I've appeared four times, but not since August 2005, and not once on the hostile Terri Gross radio show.

The unabashed progressive Bill Moyer's Show is off the air and has not been replaced. No one can charge PBS's News Hour with Jim Lehrer with anything other than very straightforward news delivery, bland opinion exchanges and a troubling inclination to avoid much reporting that upsets the power structures in Congress, the White House, the Pentagon or Wall Street.

The longest running show on PBS was hard-line conservative William F. Buckley's show — Firing Line — which came on the air in 1966 and ended in 1999.

Sponsorship by large corporations, such as Coca Cola and AT&T, have abounded — a largesse not likely to be continued year after year for a leftist media organization.

None of this deters the Far Right that recently got a majority in the House of Representatives to defund the $422 million annual appropriation to the umbrella entity — Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). About 15% of all revenues for all public broadcasting stations comes from this Congressional contribution.

Though he admits to liking National Public Radio, conservative columnist David Harsanyi, believes there is no “practical argument” left “in the defense of federal funding…in an era of nearly unlimited choices…”

Really? Do commercial radio stations give you much news between the Niagara of advertisements and music? Even the frenetic news, sports, traffic and weather flashes, garnished by ads, are either redundant or made up of soundbites (apart from the merely two minutes of network radio news every half-hour). If you want serious news, features and interviews on the radio, you go to public radio or the few community and Pacifica radio stations.

Harsanyi continues: “Something, though, seems awfully wrong with continuing to force taxpayers who disagree with the mission — even if their perceptions are false — to keep giving…”

Public radio's popular Morning Edition and All Things Considered are the most listened to radio shows after Rush Limbaugh's, and any taxpayer can turn them off. Compare the relatively small public radio and TV budget allocations with the tens of billions of dollars each year — not counting the Wall Street bailout — in compelling taxpayers to subsidize, through hundreds of programs, greedy, mismanaged, corrupt or polluting corporations either directly in handouts, giveaways and guarantees or indirectly in tax escapes, bloated contracts and grants. Can the taxpayer turn them off?

Here is a solution that will avoid any need for Congressional contributions to CPB. The people own the public airwaves. They are the landlords. The commercial radio and TV stations are the tenants that pay nothing for their 24-hour use of this public property. You pay more for your auto license than the largest television station in New York pays the Federal Communications Commission for its broadcasting license — which is nothing. It has been that way since the 1927 and 1934 communication laws.

Why not charge these profitable businesses rent for use of the public airwaves and direct some of the ample proceeds to nonprofit public radio and public TV as well as an assortment of audience controlled TV and radio channels that could broadcast what is going on in our country locally, regionally, nationally and internationally? (See: Ralph Nader & Claire Riley, ‘Oh, Say Can You See: A Broadcast Network for the Audience,’ 5 J.L. & POL. 1, [1988])

Now that would be a worthy program for public broadcasting. Get Limbaugh's and Hannity's companies off welfare. Want to guess what their listeners think about corporate welfare?


  1. Nathaniel Branden, Jr. March 28, 2011

    Ralph, you have been lying your skinny tush off ever since you defamed the great GM Corvair car in 1965. Your a typical, hysterical, uninformed Arab.
    No reasoning, no logic, no basic commonsense has ever come out of your
    vile mouth. Like all lefties you are a fountainhead (apologies to Mom Ayn)
    of verbal diarrhea. Your whole Commie goal has been to create a society of
    parasitic 300.00 an hour Asstorneys who produce nothing but litigation.
    Producers have to get the permission of nonproducers to produce. You have never suggested any practical economic replacements for corporations.
    Sure the postal service baboons could run Big Oil and Citibank but what about the rest of the economy ?
    I’m well aware of the government-big business nexus in our current version of fascist socialism and all you call for is more of the same.
    Before our great Jewish people came to Palestine it was a giant swamp with huge snakes roaming loose and Arabs defecating everywhere and you want to destroy it in yet another holocaust. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho, Tito, Pol Pot and hundreds of millions killed and billions enslaved.
    Just so you won’t have to decide between Pepsi and Coke.
    You son of a bitch. You elected Bush and his neocon reign of terror in 2000.
    Even the Left now reviles you.
    Just shut up and go back to your crummy boarding house existence.
    Rep. Wayne Hays, a left liberal Ohio Congressman, characterized Nader’s
    Raiders in 1972 “as a bunch of Jewboys led by an A-Rab.” So true and I am
    deeply ashamed of my own Jewish people who have promoted every atrocity from abortion to homosexuality to cross-dressing to Communism.
    So many of you voted for Socialist Hitler in 1932 because he promised you cheap gas and who ended up being gassed ?
    Shut your anti-life, anti-existence, anti-sensual, anti-happiness big mouth, Ralph.

    • Dan April 6, 2011

      they sprayed your weed.

  2. Steve March 29, 2011

    Now it is hard to avoid the suspicion that the person who “authors” these diatribes under the name of Branden must be – Bruce Anderson. Great spoof of an angry know-nothing know-it-all, Bruce, but a bit over the top – nobody could be this dense. Ok, maybe. But compliments to the spoofer.

    (and weren’t there similar AVA letters from another Ayn Rand fan from Ukiah last year? better pick another nutty cult – there couldn’t be more than one of those kooks in one county, could there?)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *