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18 March 2011

The trouble with PBS

Since it's pledge drive time yet again, PBS member station WTVS has the usual baby-boomer-oriented "pledge programming" slated for the next few weeks on channel 56.1. Meanwhile 56.2 becomes even more repetitive (i.e. less informative) than usual. One presentation they have been treating us to a lot is the US Chamber of Commerce's Illicit: The Dark Trade. Another is The Street Stops Here, jointly sponsored by Don Eberly's National Fatherhood Institute, Jeanne Allen's Center for Education Reform and an organization called The Clapham Group. Perhaps the people who make editorial decisions at PBS think that if they run enough decidedly right-of-center programming, they'll be spared the budget axe. It would seem a reasonable proposition, but it seems that the meme campaign to paint PBS/NPR/CPB as a left wing extremist organization is already in full force. The public broadcasters, like the Democrats (even the most moderate of Democrats) will be red-baited and branded as extremists no matter what they do. The purpose of the campaign of aggressive repetition is to convince people that "center is the new left," that is, that ideas considered middle-of-the road a generation ago are and should be considered left-of-center today. The negotiation of what counts as "middle of the road" is a far more high-stakes political outcome than an election cycle. The commercial media are obviously on the side of the political right. That the Democratic Party refuses to participate in the tug-of-war over the "center" demonstrates that the conservative (DLC and/or "Blue" Dog) faction of the Democratic Party has an uncontested controlling interest in the party.

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