I was honored to receive an email message from KCET, the PBS channel for Southern California, to let me know that they used my entry on Emergency Room closures on their Life & Times show. Life & Times is KCET's signature news and public affairs series. The specific story is here
What are my thoughts on PBS? I have mixed feelings for them.
When I was a child PBS was almost untouchable to me. I saw it as this great, almost godlike entity, which provided me with great knowledge. From early youth, through shows like Sesame Street to The Electric Company to 3-2-1 Contact, they taught things in an entertaining fashion. Back then things like Nova were "adults only" to me. Over my head.
As I grew older Nova became the epitome of collected knowledge. You could learn just about everything important there is to know about one subject in an hour. There was no bias and even today Nova pretty much is straightforward. Things like Frontline were "adults only" to me around this age. Boring and not interesting in my little bubble of a teenage life.
I have always loved PBS.
Then about 5 years ago or so I was an "adult". I started noticing a trend among the "adult" shows on PBS. Frontline was always interesting, but I started to notice a major bias in a lot of their reporting. Shows like Now with Bill Moyers were almost cartoonish in their slanting. I would watch them and just laugh at the ridiculous way they bent things to their viewpoint. Poverty was something that was forced on people by evil rich people. Illegal aliens were friendly neighbors who would volunteer to mow your lawn for free. Welfare was a good thing to live off of for life and to leave as a legacy to your children and funding for it should be increased.
This bias wasn't limited to those few shows. I noticed that the bias was spreading to all of their shows. It was seeping into even their straightforward science shows. There didn't seem to be one little bit of Conservative viewpoint. Not even a center viewpoint, it was all left wing. Was it always like that and I just didn't realize it?
It had evolved into that over the years. Now I look at PBS skeptically. I still watch it, but not with the luster and wide eyed amazement that I used to. It has been tarnished.
It grew so biased that in September of 2004 I wrote this article on why we pay for PBS. In it I wrote:
I recently have been thinking why we subsidize shows like his [Bill Moyers]. It's an obviously liberal slanted show always showing the "destruction" that the Bush Administration is doing to our country.
I ask myself "Why am I paying for this show?". I wouldn't mind if it was on cable or some network, but this is PBS! This is supposed to provide education and the arts. It's not supposed to be political and aimed towards one political view. It's supposed to present the facts and scientific knowledge and learning. It doesn't however and that's why I pose the question. PBS and the shows on it are paid for by the U.S. taxpayers. It's our money that goes to these people to provide a public means of educational programming.
You can go read the rest of that entry if you want to. Reading it two years later I realize that it is still apropos. I rail against shows like Motorweek and how it's basically a taxpayer funded infomercial on PBS.
Anyway, when I was younger I used to plan on being a friend of PBS. I watched the pledge drives they had and thought to myself Yes, I would give you money if I had it, you provide me with good educational information. Now I would have a hard time giving them a dime.
Bill Moyers is gone, but the show Now still rolls on with its obviously biased viewpoints against everything that America used to stand for. You won't see anything on there that capitalism is good, that working hard to get ahead is good, that patriotism is good, that we should have pride in things that our country does or that living off of public social services is bad. No, you'll continue to get your weekly feed of how everything about America is bad - especially the Republicans in Washington - and that only a left leaning government can solve your problems.
I long for the PBS of old, but they have become pretty much irrelevant for educational knowledge. If you want unbiased education there are plenty of politically unbiased shows on The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, The History Channel, The Science Channel or Animal Planet. Hell, cable even has their equivalent of politically biased educational programming, it's called The Discovery-Times Channel a mix of the bias of the New York Times and the truth from The Discovery Channel. I mean how many times can you show "Why Intelligence Fails", a multipart diatribe about how the Bush Administration is the sole fault for every terrorist attack, even those during the Clinton Administration (OK I'm stretching there, but that's what it feels like you're watching). They seem to show that every week, and more heavily during times like elections.
While I'm honored - and even totally surprised - that they picked a story that is against illegal aliens - and their part in forcing Emergency Rooms to close at the expense of citizens and legal residents of this country - I'll have a hard time trusting that PBS gives out accurate information ever again after the past few years.
Check out the Life & Times entry.