Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yet another Republican, law-abiding paragon of ethics

Report Says Ex-Chief of Public TV Violated Federal Law

Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting concluded today that its former chairman repeatedly broke federal law and its own regulations in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias.

The corporation's former chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who was ousted from the board two weeks ago when it was presented in a closed session with the details of the report, has said he sought to enforce a provision of the Public Broadcasting Act meant to ensure objectivity and balance in programming.

But the report said that in the process, Mr. Tomlinson repeatedly crossed statutory boundaries that set up the corporation as a "heat shield" to protect public radio and television from political interference.


The report said that Mr. Tomlinson violated federal law by promoting "The Journal Editorial Report" and said he had "admonished C.P.B. senior executive staff not to interfere with his deal to bring a balancing program" to public broadcasting.


The investigators found evidence that "political tests" were a major criteria used by Mr. Tomlinson in recruiting the corporation's new president, Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and former senior State Department official.


The report said politics might have been involved in other personnel decisions. In one case, a candidate to become the senior vice president for corporate and public affairs was asked by a board member about her political contributions in the last election. Another official was given a particular job title at the corporation at the request of the White House, the report said

The report said Mr. Tomlinson's decision to hire two Republican consultants to help the corporation in its lobbying efforts against public broadcasting legislation last year was "not handled in accordance with C.P.B.'s contracting procedures." The inspector general criticized another contract with a researcher to monitor the "Now" program, when its host was Bill Moyers, because it was signed by Mr. Tomlinson without informing the board and without board authorization.


The report questioned a severance package for the corporation's former president, Kathleen A. Cox, who was forced to resign abruptly last April after a series of disagreements with Mr. Tomlinson. According to the report, the package was more than three times her annual compensation, and Mr. Tomlinson structured its payouts over a period of years so that the lump sum would not be disclosed on publicly available tax records.

Pretty straightforward, eh? And listen to the remorse in Mr. Tomlinson's voice as he replies to the charges:

“Any suggestion by Mr. Konz that I violated my fiduciary duties, the Director's Code of Ethics or relevant statutory provisions is malicious and irresponsible. All of my actions were open, lawful, and were taken after consulting and receiving advice from CPB's General Counsel, its President, or the CPB Board of Directors. Even the most cursory and objective examination of the evidence would have demonstrated this.

“My lawful and sincere objective from the outset in my role at CPB was to help bring balance and objectivity in public broadcasting. I am proud of all that I did to bring the Journal Editorial Report to public television. Public broadcasting should not be the domain of any particular ideology or party. The voices of America should be heard on public television – across the political spectrum. Unfortunately, the Inspector General's pre-conceived and unjustified findings will only help to maintain the status quo and other reformers will be discouraged from seeking change. Regrettably, as a result, balance and objectivity will not come soon to elements of public broadcasting.”

Shorter Tomlinson: Fuck you, and the reality-based community you rode in on.


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