Defending public television

The public needs the objective gaze that many PBS programs promote.

It’s got to be handed to some of the right-wingers in Washington. They have a whirling dervish of a machine, lashing out at anything that gets in its path. This time, it is the little old Public Broadcasting Service. Yes, the same people who brought you “Sesame Street,” “Thomas the Tank Engine” and “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” are being pushed toward the funding chopping block for supposedly having a left-leaning bias.

The real issue for conservatives is whether PBS should get any funding at all, because some feel the public interest could be better served by private entities. Instead, the battle has shifted and focused on bias and the “NOW” program, formerly hosted by Bill Moyers. “NOW” is a hard-hitting, popular program focusing on issues of the day without any reservations. Both of these points are faulty. If PBS were forced to stand on its own, the public simply would not have access to programs such as “NOW,” because the programs step on too many corporate toes. Some cable channels do provide similar content as some of the PBS broadcasts, but they are always tinged by corporate sponsoring and, thus, corporate censorship. Only a public entity like PBS could take an objective gaze at the issues and politics of the day and inform the public.

PBS is a unique institution in the United States. It is commercial-free and gets much of its support from public donations. Both of these aspects of PBS challenge the commercial-laden, corporate-funded and controlled television channels. PBS exists for the welfare of the public. The other stations under the control of media conglomerates only exist for profit. PBS doesn’t have a left-leaning bias more than the facts do.