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Letter: Keep PBS a public good

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  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Oct. 24, 2012 8:17 a.m.

    Ken Burns had some interaction with President Reagan when filming the Civil War series.

    Reagan asked Burns how it was funded. Burns told him that he received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and that those commitments brought in corporate and foundation donations.

    Reagan then told Burns "That's it! We need public-private partnerships. The government primes the pump, and then the private sector has the motivation to get involved. Good work! I can't wait to see the finished film."

    So, St. Ron supported PBS.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Oct. 24, 2012 5:43 a.m.

    Re: "Who do you think you're persuading with those childish labels?"

    Persuading? No one.

    Giving a reason to chuckle? Everyone, but uptight liberals.

    And, by the way, Tuesday night, I heard Shields and Brooks disingenuously tell me how the President won the final debate by pointing out some tiny inconsistencies in Mr. Romney's positions over the years. This without even mentioning the hundreds of President Obama's broken promises, contra-factual characterizations of his own positions, or the fact that nearly all his foreign policy successes are based on staying President Bush's course.

    When have you ever heard a Fox commentator suggest "President Obama is a Muslim Communist and wasn't born in the US?"

    And, yes, I do take a perverse pleasure from watching PBS [and listening to NPR], though I will never again contribute to either, because of their pronounced, undisputed list to port.

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 11:14 p.m.

    I've never understood the idea that PBS is liberal. Do only liberals like Masterpiece Theater? I don't get it. Is this one of those "you think you're so elite" kind of things that righties get all uptight about?

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    Oct. 23, 2012 9:03 p.m.

    First they came after PBS, then they come after the public schools, all to save a buck now and cost us the price of an uneducated population later? The corporations are not in business for the social good. We as a public can and often do decide that taxation for a public, social good is appropriate. Might want to consult the American public before removing American funding from such things as PBS?

  • Pendergast SLC, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 8:33 p.m.

    Seriously, other than the British comedies on Ch 7, what good is PBS?

    Red Dwarf is like Star Trek... only better.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Oct. 23, 2012 5:33 p.m.

    Let's dismount the "it's a good thing" horse. There are a lot of "good things" out there. Public TV is just one of them. It is not the government's purpose to fund "good things". The Constitution does not allow it. The Federal Government has been charged to do a very limited number of "things". Public TV is not on that list.

    Government has the duty to regulate Interstate Commerce, not to create it. Creating programming is not a duty of the Federal Government.

    If you like Public TV (and I do) then pay for it yourself. That is a "duty" left to the States or to the People, not to the Federal Government.

    Take just a few minutes and read the Constitution for yourself. Before you get all hot and bothered by the "General Welfare" clause, read Article 1, Section 8 and ask yourself why defense was listed six times in that single sentence, if the "General Welfare" clause covered it.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 5:20 p.m.

    I wanna ask the libers why we have to cut tax breaks to the oil companies who make billions of dollars selling goods and services to us, while PBS should continue to get tax cuts and be subsidized?

    If big business is bad, why are oil companies bad, and PBS good?

  • Dave D Pocatello, ID
    Oct. 23, 2012 4:43 p.m.

    Can we not all agree that PBS and NPR are better, less politically charged sources of news and information than MSNBC, Fox News, and the like? NPR and PBS are not beholden to the interests of corporations or whatever party currently controls the purse strings of Congress. I have gained valuable information about topics that simply would not be covered by for-profit media outlets because it would not be profitable to cover such topics. Surely we can all agree that there are things of value to learn to which no price tag can be attached. I personally believe that NPR and PBS present this information in a professional and irreplaceable manner.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 3:31 p.m.

    @Blue "If you're going to claim that PBS is biased it's up to you to provide concrete, real-world evidence of that bias."

    No, it is ECR who is making this claim. He says that PBS "reveals uncomfortable truths that support a liberal point of view." Apparently, in his view, truth skews toward liberalism.

    I'm suggesting to him that if he requires programming that "supports liberal perspectives" (another of ECR's phrases), he should pay for it himself. Why must he send out the tax collector to force me to pay for his media preferences?

    When he takes money from my pocket, the burden is on him to prove he has claim to it. None of you leftists are making a good case for that.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 3:24 p.m.

    @LDS Liberal

    "Of course you all realize -- KBYU will be switched off."

    No: What I realize is; your conclusion is an example of over-the-top histrionic drama: KBYU will be just fine with or without Federal funding (and may actually have more latitude in their programming without it)

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 2:28 p.m.

    procuradorfiscal: "Forcibly filching money from our pockets..."

    They're called taxes. They're integral to the social contract that you enter into when you become part of a civilized, just society.

    "...to dictate what he believes to be -- but demonstrably is not -- the truth."

    Demonstrably? Really? Cite the specific instances.

    Shall we tally and compare what is demonstrably untrue on any PBS program with a tally of what is demonstrably untrue on FOX? (Or do you really believe that President Obama is a Muslim Communist and wasn't born in the US?)

    "I'd be just as unwilling to force you to support Rush, Glenn, Sean, and Bill, as I am to countenance your forcing me to support Frosh Air, Weakened Sedition, All Things Ill-Considered, and Big Bird."

    Who do you think you're persuading with those childish labels?

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 2:27 p.m.

    Of course you all realize -- KBYU will be switched off.
    Along with public broadcasting of LDS General Conference, Women's Conference, BYU Devotionals, The Brady Bunch and Little House on the Prarie ect.

    Too bad - it's the only reason we watch KBYU.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 1:55 p.m.

    JoeBlow

    Any more, right wing is a term used to mean anything left of Jane Fonda.

    Today, Gorbachev would be lambasted as a conservative.

    Does that mirror piece inspire you to switch teams? Do you think your comments were any more effective?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 1:19 p.m.

    Re: "Your problem lies with your refusal to let reality shape your opinions, not with the medium that conveys uncomfortable truths to you."

    No, our problem lies with the concept of government forcibly filching money from our pockets to pay an exorbitant salary to a talentless leftist, to dictate what he believes to be -- but demonstrably is not -- the truth.

    We should all agree with our founders, that government cannot be trusted to faithfully and evenhandedly perform duty as the ultimate arbiter of truth. The danger and folly of such an idea may be lost on a small cabal of academics and rigid political liberals, but it's an article of faith to real Americans.

    I'd be just as unwilling to force you to support Rush, Glenn, Sean, and Bill, as I am to countenance your forcing me to support Frosh Air, Weakened Sedition, All Things Ill-Considered, and Big Bird.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 23, 2012 12:53 p.m.

    Any more, Liberal is a term used to mean anything left of right wing.

    Today, Reagan would be lambasted as a liberal.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 12:23 p.m.

    Nate: "And if you want programming that helps you to feel better about your liberal positions, pay for it yourself."

    Nate, please describe exactly how PBS programs such as NOVA, Masterpiece Theatre, Sesame Street, Electric Company, Great Performances and Ken Burns documentaries support a "liberal" position.

    If you're going to claim that PBS is biased then it's up to you to provide concrete, real-world evidence of that bias - not just a basesless assertion of bias because you don't like what you're hearing.

    Do you know how tiny the portion of total PBS funding is that goes to news and analysis programs like PBS Newshour and Frontline?

    Are you saying that when one of these news programs accurately reports on and provides evidence-based analysis that discomfits the current incarnation of conservative political thought, that this constitutes political bias?

    I can appreciate that today's brand of conservatism finds historical, scientific and political reality offensive, and that evidence-based news reporting that runs counter to contemporary conservative beliefs annoys conservatives.

    Your problem lies with your refusal to let reality shape your opinions, not with the medium that conveys uncomfortable truths to you.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 11:37 a.m.

    Re: ". . . fox [sic] and am [sic] radio fans are the must [sic] uninformed folks out there."

    Hmmmmm. Perhaps the writer's intent was to parody Fox and AM radio fans, suggesting this is the way THEY would write his post, being among America's most uninformed.

    But frankly, the diction, spelling, grammar, and misuse of capitalization suggest otherwise.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 11:35 a.m.

    @Happy Valley Heretic
    "Republicans and especially conservatives "Hate" an educated public,"

    Such "I am tolerant and anyone who disagrees is a bigot" type statements are actually why this highly educated person dislikes a passive/aggressive popular culture who does not seem to comprehend that they personify everything they claim to despise.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Oct. 23, 2012 11:33 a.m.

    From a recent Washington Post article:

    It's worth noting that Congress funds the Corporation on Public Broadcasting, which divvies up the money according to formula. A big chunk goes to TV programming, with the rest going to 581 local television and radio stations around the country. Most of those stations, in turn, pay to license and run shows like Morning Edition or All Things Considered.

    Now, if Congress took this funding away, NPR and PBS would likely survive, PBS gets just 15 percent of its budget from the government and NPR just 2 percent. Sesame Street survives on corporate sponsorships and merchandising deals. But a number of federally-funded public stations around the country might get shuttered. In many rural areas, local stations receive more than 50 percent of their funding from state and local governments.

    Is that a problem? Can't people in poorer or rural areas just watch other TV channels? Listen to other radio content? Perhaps, but the second argument is that public television tends to be more educational than what the private sector offers. For families that can't afford cable, PBS is the sole option.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 11:12 a.m.

    Republicans and especially conservatives "Hate" an educated public, it's harder for them to convince literate people of their agenda. It's been pointed out that fox and am radio fans are the must uninformed folks out there.

    Money and profit are the only motivators acceptable by the right wing.

    They are sore losers because their propaganda they think is news would never make the cut on PBS because the Truth is important to some of us something that your radio entertainment seldom shares.

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    Oct. 23, 2012 10:58 a.m.

    Bottom line - if PBS can be self supporting with minimal government funding - then that's a given. Our trilion $ national debt demands frugality in every possible way. Suggestion: If one wants to feel good about oneself and others - switch to "BYU-TV and see the Good in the world."

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 10:53 a.m.

    Re: "I bristle at the idea that PBS is partisan."

    Why? PBS/NPR are universally acknowledged as having a bias to the left of center. Unless you're ashamed of your leftward leanings, this shouldn't make you bristle.

    But, that's not even the point.

    Left-of-center Americans should be as willing as conservatives to support an entity that supports and plays to their biases. There's no real basis to assert that leftist media are somehow more deserving of taxpayer support than conservative media, just because there are fewer of them.

    The Endangered Species Act doesn't apply here.

    The real issue is what we, as a Nation can afford. PBS, and, to a lesser degree, NPR, acknowledge they'd do fine without tax subsidies, so why do left-of-center politicians continue to filch money, albeit a small amount, from our pockets to support them?

    It's a political, not an existential issue -- buying votes for leftists.

    But, it's cynical and arrogant to require ME to support YOUR media.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 10:52 a.m.

    JoeBlow
    "Why is it that PBS funding was never an issue until the Juan Williams incident?"

    Because it was

    The legitimacy of government funding of television (and particularly news services; which, based upon experience in other governments with publicly financed news services, runs the risk of devolving into government propaganda) has been in question ever since PBS was founded (and was even an oblique story line in the Murphy Brown sit-com in the 80/90's)

    Bottom line: Big Bird is richer than Romney and Obama together and financing of television is NOT central to the primary function of the federal government.

    Big Bird will live on without corporate welfare (particularly welfare provided with borrowed money)

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    Nate, when you wrote: "And if you want programming that helps you to feel better about your liberal positions, pay for it yourself," you proved ECR's point.

    And Blue, you said exactly what I was going to say. Thanks for saving me all that typing.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 23, 2012 9:08 a.m.

    Why is it that PBS funding was never an issue until the Juan Williams incident?

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 9:05 a.m.

    @ECR "I mean all of us."

    And I'm saying, speak for yourself.

    And if you want programming that helps you to feel better about your liberal positions, pay for it yourself.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 8:15 a.m.

    "obscenely large amounts of money that the government has been granting to PBS..."

    I guess I have a different notion of what constitutes an "obscene" amount of money.

    Federal support for PBS is equal to what we spend on the war in Afghanistan every 36 hours.

    The total amount of funding for all of PBS is less than 5% of the taxpayer-provided subsidies our government gives to the oil industry alone.

    You want to know what's genuinely "obscene?" Exxon-Mobile, which is posting record-breaking profits, claiming it deserves billions annually in federal subsidies.

    Rural America would get no PBS without the small level of support it receives through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from the federal government.

    I regard such support as a wise and frugal public investment, on par with supporting libraries, universities, national parks and museums.

    When for-profit corporations no longer receive taxpayer subsidies, and the US military has been shrunk so that it's "only" twice the size the defense budgets of China, Russia and all of Europe combined, _then_ you can talk to me about taxpayer support for Big Bird.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Oct. 23, 2012 8:07 a.m.

    Nate - I mean all of us. It doesn't matter what our political stripes are. "These facts differ from my previously held political beliefs, therefore I reject them" is how my son recently described, in jest, how we often respond to evidence that differs from our personal beliefs. In my opinion, the reason many people feel that PBS is a liberal propaganda machine is because some of the issues they present in their programming reveals uncomfortable truths that support a liberal point of view. And in a more partisan thought I will say that PBS often presents evidence that supports liberal perspectives - not because they are partisan but because those perspectives reflect truth. Plain and simple.

    But they also present programming that supports a more conservative perspective as well. Maybe not as often as the liberal story but it does happen. And, of course, the best programming is that which has no political overtones but just warms the heart and expands the mind. That is what PBS does best.

    And just to be fair, I accept that many will disagree with my position on this matter.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    Oct. 23, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    @ECR "I have also noted that when the truth reveals that our point of view is wrong, we often call it propaganda."

    What do you mean, "we"?

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Oct. 23, 2012 6:29 a.m.

    I grew up in a moderately liberal household. My parents both grew up in the the Great Depression and had experienced the benefit of a strong community, with everyone doing their part to make life better for everyone.

    My wife was raised in a more conservative household. Gun rights and low taxes were major issues of their discussion. Our life together has been one of attempting to respect the beliefs of both sides of the issue and if I am totally honest I would say that my wife is more moderate than her parents and I am about the same as my parents in my liberal opinions. We never discuss who we vote for and we always vote.

    I state that background to make the point that I believe I try to be objective in my observations, especially about politics. When someone suggests, as the author did, that "It is a ... a political propaganda machine" I bristle at the idea that PBS is partisan. I have heard and seen both political perspectives presented on PBS with professional skill. But I have also noted that when the truth reveals that our point of view is wrong, we often call it propaganda.