Saturday, June 18, 2005

Peggy Noonan Fails to Make an Argument against PBS 

Ms. Noonan seems to have a problem with PBS based on her perceived liberal bias and assumption that this is shared by everyone (although she doesn't quote or cite a single person to support her assumption).

But arguing over whether PBS is and has long been politically liberal is like arguing over whether the ocean is and has long been wet. Of course it is, and everyone knows it.

The then outlines that PBS does indeed provide a service by funding, then broadcasting, informational shows that have no chance of being either created or broadcast elsewhere:

At its best, at its most thoughtful and intellectually honest and curious, PBS does the kind of work that no other network in America does or will do. Sumner Redstone is never going to pay for an 11-hour miniseries called "The Civil War"; he's not going to invest money and years of effort into a reverent exhumation of the rich loam of American history. Les Moonves is not going to do "Nova." Bob Iger is not going to OK a three-part series on relativity theory. Jeff Zucker isn't going to schedule a calm, unhurried adult drama like "Masterpiece Theatre." They live in a competitive environment.

She then moves on to the crux of her argument, explaining what PBS - in her opinion - should not be doing:

Why, then, doesn't Congress continue to fund PBS at current levels but tell them they must stick to what they are good at, and stop being the TV funhouse of the Democratic Party? Nobody needs their investigative unit pieces on how Iran-contra was very, very wicked; nobody needs another Bill Moyers show; nobody needs a conservative counter to Bill Moyers's show. Our children are being raised in a culture of argument. They can get left-right-pop-pop-bang anywhere, everywhere.

To make that argument stick, shouldn't Ms. Noonan explain where else investigative pieces like the type she criticizes are being produced and broadcast today? Could she explain why historical shows on the Civil War is acceptible, but not historical shows explaining the corruption of the Reagan Administration (that she used to work within)? She doesn't claim that the shows are innacurate. Apparently, the only problem with the shows is their coverage of issues she'd rather not see covered at all.

She fails to provide arguments against ANY of the other fine programming on PBS, including childrens shows, the News Hour with Jim Leher. She also fails to explain why other PBS programming such as the Nighly Business Report and other financial shows are bad choices.

As far as I can tell, her argument comes down to her opinion about ONE show, and ONE person: Bill Moyers. However, Bill Moyers isn't even on PBS any more, so why the outrage?

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