Liberal activist group Fairness and Accuracy in Media is charging PBS NewsHour, the flagship news program of the Public Broadcasting Service, with silencing critics of the bombing of Libya. Is the program trying to curry favor with the Obama Administration? That's a fair question.
FAIR today issued an “action alert,” saying PBSNH has failed to live up to its standards of bringing “diverse viewpoints to the airwaves." [Full disclosure: this blogger supports the U.S. intervention, which was just in the nick of time to head off the slaughter of thousands of Libyan rebels and civilians in Benghazi.] In reviewing the PBSNH’s coverage, FAIR found an “array of current and former military and government officials in its discussion segments--leaving little room for antiwar voices, U.S. foreign policy critics and legal experts.”
Since March 18, PBSNH has trotted out Obama supporters including United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice; Libya’s former U.S. Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali, who now opposes Col Gaddafi; ex-Senators Gary Hart and Norm Coleman; retired General and General Dynamics board member Jack Keene; Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough and former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinkski. There was also a report on “what’s at stake for the President,” rather than the Libya soldiers (and perhaps civilians) who were killed by U.S. and allied bombs.
Gallup reports today that three-in-four Americans support some U.S. involvement in Libya, 22 percent believe the U.S. should exit. Those numbers are expected in the early stages of any U.S. conflict. It's still "rally around the flag" time. Those poll numbers are bound to change dramatically if the campaign drags. FAIR is fair to point out that the 1967 Carnegie Commission report that created PBS saw it as a "forum for debate and controversy" that would "provide a voice for groups in the community that may be otherwise unheard." So far, PBSNH is not living up to that mandate. Could it be that PBSNH is muzzling anti-war voices to coax the White House to step up and fight Republican efforts to strip federal funding for PBS. Perish the thought!
PBSNH is a model of what anti-PBS funding people believe should be the future of public TV, one entirely dependent upon support from viewers, foundations and corporations. Current corporate backers of PBSNH are Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway, Pacific Life, Toyota and Chevron, which would be well-positioned in a post-Gaddafi Libya that is so grateful for American military support.