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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Catch You Later

I'm on my way to Boston. Y'all have a great day.

And stop by Alton Foley's ImNotEmiril blog this morning. He's hosting this week's Virginia Blog Carnival (link) and has done a great job rounding up the many entries and giving them his special send-off.

Setting The Record Straight

One problem the editorial staff at the Roanoke Times has is that the men and women there just don't read enough. I get the impression that the folks there get faxes from MoveOn.org or the DNC and print them without forethought.

Take the case of Ken Tomlinson's abrupt resignation from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). You may recall, he was the guy - well, actually he wasn't just some schmuck; we was Chairman, but no matter - who tried in vain to make the taxpayer-funded CPB and its progeny, PBS, more balanced and less liberal.

Tomlinson stood accused of - hold onto yourself - doing what chairmen do. He tried to influence programming. The fact that he failed and resigned tells you how successful he was - and how liberal the CPB monolith really is. It rose up, en masse, and crushed him. There'll be no conservative trends here, bub. And oh, by the way, we are already fair and balanced. Just ask Michael Moore.

Anyway, the Roanoke Times decided to kill some trees today and kick him one more time. Perhaps the editorialist who wrote "Public Broadcasting Bias Was Conservative" shouldn't have wasted the hardwood. Here's a portion:

Kenneth Tomlinson, during his reign atop the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was no King Friday XIII, who reigned over Mr. Roger's Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

A federal inspector general last week reported evidence that Tomlinson had abused his position to inject conservative politics into programming and hiring decisions.

Imagine that. He ran the CPB and had the audacity to "inject" his views into the process. If you've ever worked in the corporate world you know how preposterous that sounds. I once worked for a chairman who had to have a say in every decision every manager working for him ever made, more often then not fouling things up in the process. I worked for another for a few years who "injected" himself into the process by seeing to it that his wife (his former executive assistant), his son (by his first wife - ahem), his daughter-in-law (ditto), and three of his best friends were put on the payroll - despite the fact that all were woefully unqualified.

He was also notorious for coming up with really goofy ideas. I once sat in a meeting with him and the president of the company. I was reviewing for them the progress of a project that I'd put together and launched and, in the middle of my presentation, the chairman interrupted me and began offering radical - and stunningly idiotic - changes to my plan. The president listened to him courteously and, when the chairman came up for air, the president looked at him and had this response:

That is the stupidest f**king thing I've ever heard.
Anyway, a chairman is allowed to do such things - stupid or otherwise. Chairmen sometimes "inject" themselves into the decision-making process. That's why he or she is generally referred to as chairman of the board of directors.

But I might not have brought this up had I not read this:

Then the Bush administration arrived in Washington, and ideologues replaced idealists. Tomlinson became chairman of the board in 2003 and embarked on a crusade against an alleged liberal bias. Conservative commentators have long claimed public broadcasting to be just a mouthpiece of the left, and Tomlinson believed their shtick.

To gauge the political leanings of programming, he hired an underqualified researcher to measure liberal bias. Before the results were even in, Tomlinson helped the conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal land a panel show.
For the sake of brevity, I'll leave the ideologue vs. idealist remark alone except to say, if you can separate the idealist from his ideology, I'll plant my lips on your butt.

And I'll not argue the "Conservative commentators have long claimed public broadcasting to be just a mouthpiece of the left" line again - because the entire western world came to accept the fact that PBS is rabidly liberal (and boring beyond words). We also came to accept the fact that there ain't anything you, the people who pay for the God-forsaken network, are going to do about it.

No, the reason I make mention of this particular editorial is because it contains two misleading characterizations. Not inaccurate, mind you, but deceptive just the same.

First, it is true that Ken Tomlinson became chairman of the CPB board in 2003. But what you didn't read in that "Then the Bush administration arrived in Washington, and ideologues replaced idealists. Tomlinson became chairman of the board in 2003 and embarked on a crusade against an alleged liberal bias," was that Tomlinson was actually appointed to the board by Bill Clinton (who had his own ideologies relating to employers and sexual assault of female employees) in 2000. (link) Conservative bastard.

Secondly, and more importantly is this:

Tomlinson helped the conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal land a panel show.
The reason I suggest the folks at the Roanoke Times should maybe read before they write is that The Wall Street Journal on Thursday provided us with the details of Tomlinson's involvement in the development of that panel show. Here's the rest of the story:

The first time we heard from anyone at PBS about doing a WSJ program was well before we'd ever heard from Mr. Tomlinson. In early 2003, Linda O'Bryon of the Miami PBS station contacted our publisher. PBS wanted to start up another public affairs show, and would we be interested in working together?

Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot and WSJ vice president for television Kathryn Christensen worked with Ms. O'Bryon to develop a proposal for a 30-minute program. We went so far as to pitch it in the spring of 2003 to a panel of CPB and PBS potentates. We were later told they'd chosen "Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered" instead, which was fair enough.

Only months later, in December 2003, did Mr. Tomlinson first contact Mr. Gigot to suggest that perhaps another show would be possible. The two never did meet in person, but in emails and a couple of phone calls Mr. Tomlinson urged Mr. Gigot to pursue the idea.

... in his former role as chairman of the CPB board Mr. Tomlinson lacked the power to put any show on the air. CPB is a funding and oversight body but it can't decide to broadcast so much as a 30-second spot. That decision rests with PBS itself and its member stations. And in the case of "The Journal Editorial Report," that meant PBS President Pat Mitchell, who contacted Mr. Gigot in a phone call in early 2004. Could she come by and talk?

The two met, along with Ms. Christensen, on February 6, 2004, in Mr. Gigot's office. Ms. Mitchell said she wanted to get Mr. Gigot back on PBS--on "Now" with Bill Moyers immediately, and on a separate Journal program down the road. We should explore the first option with Mr. Moyers, she said, and the second with some of her PBS deputies and folks from CPB. She never mentioned Mr. Tomlinson.

Our point here is that PBS came to us, not vice versa. Ms. Mitchell gave every appearance to us, then and since, of believing a Journal editorial-page program would be an asset to her network. If she or anyone else at PBS had ever thought Mr. Tomlinson's efforts were illegal or unethical or otherwise out of bounds, they could have said so. Since when is the president of a broadcast network a potted plant? (
link requires subscription)
There's the rest of the story. The whole story.

Speaking of potted plants, does the Roanoke Times op/ed page editor expect his employees to research the subject matter about which they write or are they there to simply suck up oxygen? And to write misleading columns.

Just asking.

Quote Of The Day

HOW TO LOSE A WAR

QUIT. It's that simple. There are plenty of more complex ways to lose a war, but none as reliable as just giving up.


Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can't win the game if you walk off the field at half-time. That's precisely what the Democratic Party wants America to do in Iraq. Forget the fact that we've made remarkable progress under daunting conditions: The Dems are looking to throw the game just to embarrass the Bush administration.

Forget about the consequences. Disregard the immediate encouragement to the terrorists and insurgents to keep killing every American soldier they can. Ignore what would happen in Iraq — and the region — if we bail out. And don't mention how a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower, the champ who knocked out Uncle Sam in the third round.

Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media. After all, one way to create the kind of disaffection in the ranks that the Dems' leaders yearn to see is to tell our troops on the battlefield that they're risking their lives for nothing, we're throwing the game.

Forget that our combat veterans are re-enlisting at remarkable rates — knowing they'll have to leave their families and go back to war again. Ignore the progress on the ground, the squeezing of the insurgency's last strongholds into the badlands on the Syrian border. Blow off the successive Iraqi elections and the astonishing cooperation we've seen between age-old enemies as they struggle to form a decent government.

Just set a time-table for our troops to come home and show the world that America is an unreliable ally with no stomach for a fight, no matter the stakes involved. Tell the world that deserting the South Vietnamese and fleeing from Somalia weren't anomalies — that's what Americans do. (link)

Ralph Peters, "How To Lose a War," The New York Post, November 21, 2005

Quote of the Day II

I know what Bush believes: He thought Saddam should go in 2002 and today he's glad he's gone, as am I. I know what, say, Michael Moore believes: He wanted to leave Saddam in power in 2002, and today he thinks the "insurgents" are the Iraqi version of America's Minutemen. But what do [Senators] Rockefeller and Reid and Kerry believe deep down? That voting for the war seemed the politically expedient thing to do in 2002 but that they've since done the math and figured that pandering to the moveon.org crowd is where the big bucks are? If Bush is the new Hitler, these small hollow men are the equivalent of those grubby little Nazis whose whining defense was, "I was only obeying orders. I didn't really mean all that strutting tough-guy stuff." And, before they huff, "How dare you question my patriotism?", well, yes, I am questioning your patriotism -- because you're failing to meet the challenge of the times. Thanks to you, Iraq is a quagmire -- not in the Sunni Triangle, where U.S. armed forces are confident and effective, but on the home front, where soft-spined national legislators have turned the war into one almighty Linguini Triangle.

Mark Steyn, "Senate adopts 'exit strategy' from reality," Chicago Sun-Times, November 20, 2005 (link)

Such Hypocrites

On the same day that I read this in the New York Times:
Krugman: Murtha Is Right
I read this in the New York Times:
Accountability Begins at Home
We're happy the administration pressed for a full accounting of abuse of Iraqis by Iraqis. Now, about the abuse of Iraqis by Americans ...
Want to know how you can tell when Americans have become anti-Americans?

When they shed tears (ad nauseum) over the plight of a bunch of Iraqis who had panties stuck on their heads at Abu Ghraib but demand that our military retreat from Iraq and leave the Iraqi citizenry - men, women, and children - to be tortured and murdered by the terrorists.

These people are despicable.