PBS discriminates
October 25, 2001 8:11 AM   Subscribe

PBS discriminates A posting a day or so ago suggested that in the Israeli/Palestinian issue, PBS slanted its coverage. I had argued in a post that there was a larger issue: PBS slants on many issues. This piece shows where,why,how and when.
posted by Postroad (10 comments total)
Note: the earlier post was about NPR. While PBS and NPR have common roots in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, they are both completely different organizations. The Thompaine.com essay really is wholly irrelevant to the question of whether, how or why NPR slants its news coverage.
posted by dchase at 8:48 AM on October 25, 2001

I think postroad made that clear.
posted by Doug at 8:49 AM on October 25, 2001

The previous post actually refers to NPR, not PBS. I confess to not knowing exactly how closely they are affiliated, but they are separate entities.

I listen to NPR quite a bit (Miami is a radio wasteland), but have watched less and less PBS over the years, their programming used to be innovative, but there is so much competition nowadays that they need to reinvent themselves.
posted by groundhog at 8:54 AM on October 25, 2001

The post does indicate some possible confusion, which dchase laudably cleared up. Nevertheless, I believe the article does indicate some of the common problems with public broadcasting today, since the funding structure is virtually identical.

Just one small example, I think it was yesterday, on NPR's All Things Considered, they ran a sponsorship bumper at the end of either a segment or a half-hour of news. "The preceding was sponsored by LeftBehind.com ... the best-selling novels by Tim LaHaye and mumble which mumble the coming apocalypse. LeftBehind.com." If I'd been drinking I would have had a nosepipe situation. Talk about your unlikely demographic overlaps! But on the other hand, I don't know that you'd ever hear "...sponsored by the Freedom From Religion foundation", because it would likely lead to hearings in Congress.

PBS -- back to TV -- also distributes a public affairs program, one of the Scaife-funded ones, that spends an hour looking at an issue of the day -- from a conservative perspective. Thye have a set like Dateline, and an anchor wandering around between video screens, and high-budget pre-assembled reportorial pieces. The bulk of the program is factual, but selectively so. The one on women in the military, for example, was meant to leave you with the impression that we were less secure militarily, using the classic ruse of open-ended questions. Yes, that kind of blatant stuff gets through, because of right-wing bullying at the Congressional level. If they refuse to show it, they're pilloried for bias. Even if they show it, and they also show something like the lesbian program, they're pilloried for bias. The right wing has very successfully framed the debate on public broadcasting, in other words.
posted by dhartung at 9:05 AM on October 25, 2001

im glad i never followed through on my pledge. We in the right-wing jamboree call it "no things considered" I still find the Christian science monitor to one of the best sourses of news.
posted by newnameintown at 9:26 AM on October 25, 2001

Even though the piece is specifically on PBS (which I stopped watching regularly quite some time ago) it mirrors my own concerns over NPR (which I still love, although am worried about).

While it is probably politically untenable in the current environment, the best way to address the (lack of) independence of the public broadcasting systems would be to set them up with some sort of permanent endowment.

Also, for those arguing in this and other threads that the problem is a lack of objectivity: there is NO such thing as journalistic objectivity. Even just the decision as to what is "newsworthy" is a subjective decision. I wish we would just drop this pretense of objectivity and start being plain about our biases. That way we know which way the reporter/journalist/anchor is leaning and can judge accordingly.
posted by theMargin at 10:09 AM on October 25, 2001

I've been watching the documentary series "Islam: Empire of Faith" on PBS, and have found it very educational and interesting. For all of its faults, PBS, alone among major U.S. media players, seems to realize that two sides to a story is the minimum; usually there are three or more.

It's not perfect, but any station that runs "McLaughlin Group" along with Frontline deserves some recognition.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:55 AM on October 25, 2001

theMargin: I concur, journalistic objectivity is a myth. Even after you've decided what constitutes a story, it's not possible to present all views of that issue equally. I'm not a journalism expert, but as long as facts are verified, details are provided, and a reasonable attempt is made to present multiple sides of complex issues, I'm satisfied.

I think that overall, the public services do a good job. Hell, just to acknowledge that there IS more than one viewpoint goes well beyond what you get from most of the mainstream media.
posted by groundhog at 1:08 PM on October 25, 2001

Just take a moment and watch Fox News. I concur with groundhog.
posted by ericrolph at 5:47 PM on October 25, 2001

I agree with the previous 2 posts - in journalism it's all relative. PBS (and NPR for that matter) routinely provide superior coverage, in scope and in depth, than any network, including the slipping CNN. They are both the most, IMHO, credible mass media sources out there (internet excluded).
posted by skechada at 5:43 AM on October 26, 2001

« Older skateboarding tortoises   |   Bush's Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments