Third Party & Independents Archives

June 18, 2005

Borrowing from Fascists and Dictators

One of the first steps any fascist or dictator leader takes to resist threats to their power of rulership, is to take control of, or to silence, the media. While fascists and dictators do not run America, the political Right is apparently borrowing from their playbook.

Day before yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee voted to severely cut funding of PBS and NPR by $100 million. This is on top of an aggressive political campaign to subvert public broadcasting's independence and make it one more media mouthpiece for right-wing ideology says, Ralph G. Neas of the organization known as People For the American Way (PFAW).

Where was the Right's action to end PBS and NPR when both networks were investigating and reporting on the Lewinsky or Whitewater affairs? Now however, that public sentiment and polls are turning critical of President Bush and Congress on Iraq and the national debt, and a handful of journalist programs on NPR and PBS are investigating and reporting on why, the Right wants to remove their funding.

I have written extensively on our need to rein in spending and increase revenues to deal with the deficits and national debt. But, the amount of funding the federal government spends on Public Broadcasting is a pittance, and the need for independent journalism free of commercial interests and bias, has never been greater.

Now that the appropriations committee has acted, public broadcasting's future will soon come before the full House of Representatives. I urge everyone who has an interest in protecting independent reporting and journalism as well as children's programming that 10's of millions of America's children have grown up with, to please act now.

The following link will take you to the PFAW website where you can quickly send a message to your Congresspersons urging them to retain funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that helps fund PBS and NPR. Tell your Congressperson to Save it.

Posted by David R. Remer at June 18, 2005 05:07 AM
Comments
Comment #60965

Tough Luck. Soon the only place we will get the truth will be The Simpsons, Southpark and The Daily Show. God knows I watch them now for news rather than entertainment.

Posted by: Aldous at June 18, 2005 05:22 AM
Comment #61003

David,

The government’s total funding for PBS is about $1.00 per person this year.

What other government program offers so much for so little?

Posted by: Rocky at June 18, 2005 12:21 PM
Comment #61013

I generally like PBS and give them money.

But it is funny that we have come so far from real oppression that we can equate the government not funding something to a dictator smashing the printing presses. I imagine Stalin saying to the Kulaks, “You guys have really upset me, so we will not longer fund the Kulak cultural center.”

You don’t have to worry about the Bush Administration on this score. If you pick up almost any newspaper or turn on the television to almost any channel, you will find criticism of the Administration and its policies. There are two possible overlapping explanations for this: the Bush Administration is either unable or unwilling to stifle the media. Or maybe a third explanation. Maybe the Bush Administration enjoys being criticized.

In any case, finally we can speak out freely, since they can’t or won’t stop us and/or they like it.

Posted by: jack at June 18, 2005 12:56 PM
Comment #61015

Jack, the GOP has a catch-22 with other media. Many of the commercial media moguls contributed to his party and presidency. Bush does not bite the hand that fed him if he can avoid it.

CPB however is prohibited from making campaign contributions, no catch-22 there. The GOP has been masterful to the extent possible in stifling dissent. Cordoning off demonstrators far from media view, pre-screening all participants at speaking engagements which are to be televised or aired, as as most event which are not aired.

Controlling media access has become an artform under the GOP, and CPB funding is just a small part of this vast conspiracy to propagandize American public support.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 18, 2005 01:06 PM
Comment #61046

At the end of the day Bush won!

Posted by: Red Peters at June 18, 2005 03:47 PM
Comment #61057

Red,

At the end of the day Bush won!

Lol. What’s your point?

Posted by: Zeek at June 18, 2005 04:06 PM
Comment #61066

David,

I’d be surprised if you actually believe what you’ve written here.

Let’s see… fascists and dictators start by cutting the funding for government controlled media? This isn’t just factually challenged, it’s 180 degrees from the truth. All throughout history, fascists and dictators shut down privately owned media. They strengthened and expanded the power of government.

Above all fascism is defined by government control. Control of business and control of all aspects of life they care to.

There is no need for federally funded media. I have so many channels right now that I can’t watch them all. I have probably never watched half the channels I’ve got. To try to say that the left can’t get it’s message out without a federally funded propaganda channel is not only an admission of defeat, it is proof that the left cannot compete in the free market of ideas.

Posted by: ericsimonson at June 18, 2005 04:22 PM
Comment #61079

ericsimonson said : “Let’s see… fascists and dictators start by cutting the funding for government controlled media? This isn’t just factually challenged, it’s 180 degrees from the truth.”

That is also not what I said. Do you need glasses or reading classes? Try quoting what I said in your reply, might help you understand what was said.

It is obvious you do not watch or listen CPB programming. If you did, you would know that that the journal interview programs are very bi-partisan in the selection of their interviewees. Also, millions of American youth depend on this one and only source for non-commercial ridden programming which doesn’t target them for obese snacks or toys of mass destruction.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 18, 2005 05:33 PM
Comment #61081

I’d like the Feds out of the Media biz so ‘defund” away!

But what concerns me even more is the so-called independent media that serve as lap dogs for the powerful. (Witness the uncritical aping of anything the WH said in the run up to the Iraq war.)

I’d love to see something more than: “President Bush said X and the Democrats responded by saying Y”

Posted by: Steve at June 18, 2005 06:02 PM
Comment #61091

David

Eric is right about the nationally funded media. It doesn’t really make a difference if they are bipartisan. I can think of many instance where dictators closed private media, but none where they started off shutting down the media the government supported. Besides, even if the G pulls out PBS won’t shut down. Didn’t Mrs. Kroc (the McDonald’s heiress) just give PBS many millions?

Second re your point to me. I don’t know if the owner of the big media are Republicans. I don’t think Ted Turner is a Bush supporters. The owner of the WP and Time magazine are not. The producers of most entertainment certainly are not. Even if they were, the word has not reached the reporters. Do you really believe that Bush can be happy about what he sees every day on the networks or reads in the WP, New York Times or LA Times? Bush is treated a lot more fairly on NPR Morning Edition than on the CBS Evening News or on the pages of the New York Times.

The ideas that Bush critics have no voice is like complaining about a shortage of sand and gravel in the Sahara Desert. There just is no indication of a problem.

Posted by: jack at June 18, 2005 06:53 PM
Comment #61105

Jack said: “Bush is treated a lot more fairly on NPR Morning Edition than on the CBS Evening News or on the pages of the New York Times.”

Thank you. That is my point exactly. NPR hosts in depth interviews from folks on all sides of issues and parties. It is more than news, since you get in depth analysis, but NPR insures you get it from all sides if you listen to their programs on a regular basis. NPR does not have the same pressures by advertisers that commercial media has. Their programming and editorial directors fulfill their obligation to insure balanced and fair presentation of news and political issues.

And I noticed you skipped over the the tremendous asset of PBS presenting children’s programming which is wholesome and without commercial advertising to prurient or greedy natures. Quite the opposite in fact. My daughter loved PappyLand when she was young and loved learning how to draw following his examples. Nothing like that exists in commercial programming. To this day, some 8 years later, she is still drawing and becoming quite refined at it. She is 14. Thank you CPB, PBS, and I love the country programming that reflects rural America of a half century and more ago. I also learn much from the Charlie Rose show.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 18, 2005 09:11 PM
Comment #61111

David

I like NPR. I have listened to NPR regularly since 1977. I have watched McNeil/Lerher since it was actually called that in 1982. It is the best news avialable on broadcast.

I do find NPR Morning Edition and All Things Considered biased in their choice of stories and tone. I have gotten used to it and I automatically set the sights a little to the right to compensate. The NewsHour (I think) it usually well balanced.

The question is whether government should pay for it (not sure) and if reducing or eliminating such support is what a dictator would do (no)

Posted by: Jack at June 18, 2005 09:43 PM
Comment #61119

‘Also, millions of American youth depend on this one and only source for non-commercial ridden programming which doesn’t target them for obese snacks or toys of mass destruction.’

My 2 year old watches Sesame Street everyday. McDonalds is absolutely a sponsor of the show. That is what kills me about you libs. We are supposed to pay for this crap, and not even you guys can stand to watch it. I can’t tell you the last time I saw something on PBS that did not have a commercial.

BTW - LibertyMutual.com sponsored “CarTalk” on NPR this morning


Posted by: Peter at June 18, 2005 10:18 PM
Comment #61139

David I do agree to some extent in terms of them sanctioning descent (being borderline fascista), this is most a reoccurance with this administration as well as has a shelflife in the GOP arsenal.

BUT PBS isn’t entirely leftist that’s the thing that I think puzzles me the most. Tucker Carlson has a show, William F. Buckley has a show, Tony Brown has or had a show. Jim Lehrer isn’t leftist liberazzi in the least it has actually an excellent and more intellectual string of right-wing pundits actually worth listening to.

Public Broadcasting isn’t entirely leftist perhaps this was a gaff of right-wing perceptions about it. Bill Moyers was the voice they railed against could any one voice be more strangely innane in terms of viewpoint? Yes he’s of left leanings but to cut it to silence Bill, that’s really thin skinned.

Dora the explorer we could have less of but actually PBS has quite a venue of right-of center viewpoints. Perhaps those views are too educated and lack fire in lieu of substance.

If this is a fascist move it also smacks of the stupid stuff and I think that might have resonations ( political ramifications) all it’s own with populace perceptions of this move. I agree it’s definitely a takeover move that I don’t contest in the least it’s quite transparent.

On FOX they laid example to Bill Moyers descent from the war. Question David: IS THIS A BUSH MILITARY BASED DECISION? Did Bill Moyers prick this administration’s soft underbelly?

Just a thought.

Posted by: aNON at June 19, 2005 12:45 AM
Comment #61142

Eric Simonson,

Well it’s fascist in the sense that with commertcial or mainstream media it’s a concensus perception that rules and governs the programming (AKA conventional wisdom, to a degfree). Meaning that it’s investigatism is enhindered by corporate sponsorship.

Such as if AOL Time Warner lost heavy in the market just how loud and clear do you think that would be on CNN which is AOL owned?

Another one: what if an advertiser or even a major account had a scandal of some sort do you think they wouldn’t squelch that for the bottom line ($$$)?

Or what if an issue came forth that could lose an advertiser’s sponsorship?

Commercial media wants to keep it mainstream and hard-hitting shows like Frontline wouldn’t be in keeping with that would it?

Also don’t you hate when a right-wing show has to have a left wing pundit and or visa-versa? The reason that iss is so they don’t get accused of being too right or too left. Why can’t we have our shows and the right have theirs separately? And the ONLY PLACE THAT EXISTS IS ON PBS!

Think about it.

Posted by: aNON at June 19, 2005 01:19 AM
Comment #61146

Jack said: “The question is whether government should pay for it (not sure) and if reducing or eliminating such support is what a dictator would do (no)”

Well, Jack, it is the same old argument for any and all public spending. Why should some taxpayers pay for military when they are quite capable of defending their own ranch Idaho? Why should taxpayers pay for roads development and maintenance if they ride a bicycle to work?

NPR provides programming that elevates audience inquiry, thinking, and children’s tolerance for differing races, ethnicities, and helps them understand fair play, as well as “do along” skill building programming that just would simply evaporate from the face of America if public funding were not provided.

And yes, a fascist would terminate funding if they could not control critique of themselves on that network. And that is what is motivating Republicans to end funding for CPB. With commercial networks they can rely in part upon advertising sponsors to dampen GOP critique by making clear to networks they will not sponsor ads for programs dedicated to investigating and reporting government malfeasance.

Such a tactic is nowhere near as effective with CPB.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2005 05:06 AM
Comment #61147

aNON, I generally agree with your assessments and thoughts. Thank you for your comments and insights.

Jack, thank you for yours as well. We don’t agree, but, you help me see the oppositions premises.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2005 05:09 AM
Comment #61149

Peter, every 12 minutes for 2 minutes? I don’t think so. That is what commercial TV offers. Why do you think America is obese? Consider the hours spent in front of the boob tube by Americans and the number of food commercials working their subconscious salivation for what is shown and described on the screen.

But you see this is the point. If CPB loses public funding, PBS and NPR will fall prey to the advertising dollar whole hog like the rest of the commercial networks and the kind of programming that is unique and elevating on PBS and NPR would evaporate. The ratings game and advertising dollars will dictate programming rather than concepts like “valuable informed consent” of the public.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2005 05:15 AM
Comment #61197

Peter-
That situation is a result of the last time Public Television took a hit by the GOP in the house.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 19, 2005 05:03 PM
Comment #61282

David, I agree. Very good article.
Stephen, great point there.

Jack:
“I don�t know if the owner of the big media are Republicans.”

Oh, come now. Don’t take us for fools. Of course we know what party Big Corporate Media would naturally give it’s allegiance to. And these days, there are so few owners controlling the message America gets to hear that it’s downright scary, because it is not just on television, but in Radio, Book Publishing, Movies, Music, even Theme Parks! These few gigantic entities own everything.

Here are two interesting links on this subject:
Who Owns The Media
The Big Ten. Great article link at this one.

Posted by: Adrienne at June 19, 2005 11:41 PM
Comment #61303

The real question as I see it is “why do this?”

IF it is for the sake of privatisation and pulling something off the public dole THEY COULD START WITH AMTRACK. This is definitely a partisan move no matter how the republicans want to dress it and spin it. Why is everyone mayonaising this up as bidness as usual it is partisan for political or politico-militaristic

Posted by: aNoN at June 20, 2005 01:43 AM
Comment #61386

Guys,

Have we not already beaten the horse of PBS, etc. completely to death?

Posted by: steve smith at June 20, 2005 12:45 PM
Comment #61395

Steve Smith, well, I wanted to provide a link for those who want to do more than just prattle about it. Amazing how people will spend 10 minutes to hours bitching and moaning about something here, but, not spend 2 minutes contacting their representatives or lobbying group to add their name to political action.

So, Steve, have called or emailed to register your point of view on this issue?

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 20, 2005 01:08 PM
Comment #61404

With an $8,000,000,000,000 debt, spending federal money on a television network of all things is pure silliness.

Remember the Tenth Amendment? If you want government funding for this kind of thing, lobby your state governments.

Posted by: TheTraveler at June 20, 2005 01:39 PM
Comment #61416

The Traveller, states and localities already contribute 21.5% of funding. Federal appropriation is 15.5%. Private membership contributions and subscriptions pay 26.1%. Here is a breakdown of revenue sources for CPB.

A great deal of the programming, unlike commercial enterprises, is focused on information and education compared to entertainment by commercial media. This means a wealth of democratic “informed consent” would disappear if CPB fails due to revenue cuts. What value is placed on cultural programming varies widely by audience. But, CPB revenues are the primary source for cultural educational issues from history, to art, to literature on TV and radio.

Most people grossly underestimate the value of cultural events and programming which provide quality and sophistication and civilizing educational experience to society that would otherwise be extremely drab and base without it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 20, 2005 02:27 PM
Comment #61424

So?
It’s still one of the many things the federal government should not be wasting money on.
If it’s the news and educational programming you’re worried about, let them cut their entertainment programming first.

Posted by: TheTraveler at June 20, 2005 02:56 PM
Comment #61425

David, good article on this topic by Molly Ivins: Destroying PBS

Posted by: Adrienne at June 20, 2005 02:57 PM
Comment #61429

David,
Last month you wrote an article that said it was the GOP’s strategy to bankrupt the US. Yet on the rare occasion when they try to make a cut you rally against it. Why? I don’t see how someone who claims that the country is on the verge of bankruptcy can be against cutting funding of something as silly as television programming.
The federal government has an eight trillion dollar debt. Now, are you really committed to being part of the solution, or are these articles really just about partisan politics?

Posted by: TheTraveler at June 20, 2005 03:12 PM
Comment #61438

Traveller, you say silly. I say fundamental to the preservation of informed consent, non-school educational resource, and cultural arts interest and maintenance.

Silly in my opinion is Bush’s spending billions to put colonies on the moon and Mars at this time. Silly, is spending tax payer dollars to advertise marriage. Silly to me and damaging to me, is non-competitive bidding laws for Medicare’s Rx drug program. Sum = billions, vs. the 100 million for CPB and all the benefits it provides to our democracy and informed consent, and education and cultural arts.

And of course the ultimate waste, fraud, and abuse, the star wars space based defense program. Or how about the 30 Billion contract being awarded Haliburton to renovate and upgrad GITMO? Now that is not only silly, THAT IS STUPID, in light of groundswell efforts to shut the facility down.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 20, 2005 04:01 PM
Comment #61454

You want to piss away money on television. Stop complaining about tax cuts, national debt, and military spending. You want to complain about these, lets cut all of the lib programs first.

Posted by: Peter at June 20, 2005 04:50 PM
Comment #61474

Peter,

Your obvious and absolute hatred for all things ‘lib’ is blinding you from taking part in a real discourse here… or else your inability to take part in a real discourse is the root cause of your obvious and absolute hatred for all things ‘lib’.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?


Posted by: Anonymous Lib at June 20, 2005 05:41 PM
Comment #61478

Traveller, you say silly. I say fundamental to the preservation of informed consent, non-school educational resource, and cultural arts interest and maintenance.

You seem to be using the “my waste of money is more important than your waste of money” argument.

PBS, fundamental though it may be, is still a silly thing for the federal government to be spending money on. $362,809,000 may seem like a drop in the bucket, but with an eight trillion dollar debt, the government should not be spending any money that doesn’t go into , well, governing and protecting the country.

Your own link said that the government gives CPB 15.5%. Of their revenue. Seems to me that cutting this isn’t going to “kill them” as some here are insinuating. Like I said, all they would need to do is chop some of the entertainment programming, which is quite a bit of it these days. I’d be happy that the government wasn’t wasting money on it, and you would still have your education and news. That’s called “compromise.”

Oh yeah, and I agree with you on the other stuff too. But if we are going to reduce the debt, the cuts have to be across the board. We can’t pick and choose what programs to keep. The government should not be spending money on anything that’s not constitutionally mandated, and that includes TV networks.

Just a reminder, the Tenth Amendment says:
Amendment X The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

It’s the most ignored line in the constitution, especially by those in the government. I guess ignorance is bliss…

Posted by: The Traveler at June 20, 2005 05:57 PM
Comment #61481
Borrowing from Fascists and Dictators

One of the first steps any fascist or dictator leader takes to resist threats to their power of rulership, is to take control of, or to silence, the media. While fascists and dictators do not run America, the political Right is apparently borrowing from their playbook.

Day before yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee voted to severely cut funding of PBS and NPR by $100 million.

I don’t know David, what did I miss here? Your point is that the Right are like unto fascists and dictators because they want to cut federally funded media.

I said:

Let’s see… fascists and dictators start by cutting the funding for government controlled media? This isn’t just factually challenged, it’s 180 degrees from the truth. All throughout history, fascists and dictators shut down privately owned media. They strengthened and expanded the power of government.

Your point is?

I do watch PBS. I don’t think you can call them fair and balanced at all. Especially since the left’s version of fair and balanced is essentially whatever is left. Every ‘rountable’ news show, or segment of a show has either 1 or none conservative speakers. This is balance? It’s usually at least a 5 to 1 ratio of liberals to conservatives. …and the token conservative is usually a moderate like John McCain or David Gergen for Pete’s sake!

Q: Why do we need federally funded media?

Q: Why is commercial media bad? Because the money influences the content? Then why doesn’t the money influence the content when it comes from government?

You’re saying that there cannot be a commercial free media without government funding? First of all, there are lots of commercials on PBS. Second, if so many people rely on PBS for ‘balance’ (NOW with Bill Moyers was a great source), why don’t they go legit and be fully ‘publicly funded’ with pure donations?

It boggles my mind that television is an entitlement too.

Posted by: ericsimonson at June 20, 2005 06:04 PM
Comment #61554

Eric said: “I do watch PBS. I don’t think you can call them fair and balanced at all.”

Well, this statement tells me we have no common ground upon which to debate, Eric. I see conservative points of view and interviews on PBS shows with regularity explaining, defending, and justifying their, their party’s, and their administration’s policy positions, history, and perspective.

They have a program coming up on Point of View that is called “The Education of Shelby Knox”. It is about a Texas teen who weighs Christian values and social realities in a modern morality tale.

Sounds like it will be a very good educational insight program into conservative thought and values, which I am looking forward to watching.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2005 02:46 AM
Comment #61555

Peter, since when is cultural programming liberal. Since when is the national symphony, or national ballet, or the Kennedy Center arts programming liberal? This is culture, man, which distinguishes us from aboriginals in the rain forest in Brazil.

And without cultural arts and history, we would not have continuity as a civilization. Cultural progamming is not everyone’s cup of tea any more than history or monuments are. But they are hallmarks for very large numbers of Americans who also tend to be the wealthier, more educated, and privileged, which means also, more likely to be leaders in our nation. That makes them indispensable since they afford future leaders a sense of civilization, culture, and historical continuity by which to lead the country and its many institutions when they become leaders.

There is a richness to America that has little to do with money or war. In fact, remove money and war, and what is left, makes up a large part of PBS’s programming. That Peter, covers one helluva lot of ground. And you say we should trash it all as liberal. I find that position remarkably shortsighted, myopic and frankly uneducated.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2005 02:58 AM
Comment #61556

The Traveller, I see your point of view. However, I would refer you to my reply to Peter above for further elaboration on why I believe programming which is not created for advertising dollars is essential to America and her future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 21, 2005 03:01 AM
Comment #61790

David wrote :

“So, Steve, have called or emailed to register your point of view on this issue?”

Yes I have. I indicated that I did not think that 15% of the funding to PBS was an insurmountable sum for them to raise on their own.

Also that the first step should be to reassess their programming and trim any fat. Then they should seriously consider advertising as a way to raise funds.

Of course I also registered my disgust with same sex cartoon characters shown in “loving” poses and, my objection to rabbits going to visit same sex marriage cartoon families.

Posted by: steve smith at June 21, 2005 05:11 PM