Are Democrats raising hackles on trimming PBS funding just to score political points? I hope so, because politically, it’s a winner. Policy-wise, though, it’s wrong. Leave policy to the governing majority, I suppose.
PBS is a relic of the Golden Age, when public institutions matter in (white) America. Just as its probably not a mere corrolation that school funding declined in response to desegregation, (white) America’s interest in other public institutions has declined the more people feel like it gives advantage to people who, you know, don’t work as hard as they do.
I don’t usually engage in this kind of New Left identity politics tripe, but in this case, I think it would be totally intellectually dishonest to deny that racism played a role in the decline of the public square post Brown.
But whatever the cause, the public square is dead in America outside of a few blue-state urban enclaves. Public transportation is characteristically un-American (agian, outside of these few enclaves), unions are in single digits. And not all of this is bad.
Just compare American television to the rest of the world. Most of the rest of the world’s broadcast television makes PBS look like Cinemax on Saturday night. It’s horrible. American television in 2005 is not a public thing. It’s driven by consumer choice, and mostly through cable and satellite.
This is a tough argument for Democrats to support, because the media out there is so skewed to the right that it seems that there must be some causal connection between the rise of Right Wing media and the end of the fairness doctrine and the rise of privately held satellite. It may smell funny that large corporations and deregulation ideologues pushed a lot of this through, but there is nothing stopping left-wing media. Just look at AirAmerica–it’s kicking butt, and I can listen to it anyone on satellite radio.
Even though it’s not a news channel, you are insane to deny that HBO is, if not itself “liberal”, is aimed at liberals. Larry David loses his erection when attempting to have sex with a Bush supporter. Bill Maher … heh… enough said. Peter Krause constantly bitches about Bush on Six Feet Under. Michael Imperioli underhandedly digs at Bush on The Sopranos by having his nimwit character voice support for the President.
There is “liberal media” even if there isn’t much liberal news or talk radio, and that statement doesn’t even account for the internet. It’s there if you want it, and it’s there because of deregulation. It’s in the minority, yes, but that can and will change.
The fairness doctrine and public broadcasting may have created a perceived “liberal” bias, but it was nothing more than mealy-mouthed milquetoast Establishment centrist garbage, which is more or less what you get from the Washington Post, The New York Times, et al.
Saving PBS is stupid. It’s a relic of a bygone era. It doesn’t contribute a thing to Democratic causes, and it will be preserved locally where it’s wanted, like New York and San Francisco, and, perhaps by DirecTV and Sirius satellite subscriptions.
So take yourself out of your partisan bickering mode and ask yourself if you’d rather have HBO and Air America… or PBS. Maybe that’s a false dichotomy, but its also a false dream to imagine that we can go back to the airwaves and media of the 60s, or that doing so will somehow stop the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.