Tomlinson, Bush-Appointed Crusader against PBS ‘Bias,’ Steps Down

TomlinsonKenneth Y. Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (which runs Voice of America and other overseas programming put out by the U.S.), has told the White House he is not seeking renomination to his appointed post. As the Washington Post notes, this is “something of a formality” with the Senate now controlled by Democrats. Tomlinson has been under fire recently over alleged ethical violations:

According to a report last summer by the State Department’s inspector general, Tomlinson violated federal rules by running his private horse breeding and racing operations out of his government office and improperly put a friend on the broadcasting board’s payroll.

In the letter, published by Human Events, Tomlinson writes that the charges “do not stand up to scrutiny,” but adds,

In recent weeks, however, I have concluded that it would be far more constructive to write a book on my experiences rather than to seek to continue government service.

“My critics will say this is an indicator that Ken Tomlinson is quitting public life,” Tomlinson said in The Washington Times. “But I’m just beginning to fight. This book will be a much more effective way to bring to light the injustices done to me.”

Indeed, with plans for a book, Tomlinson is well set up to continue his role as a martyr in the Right’s long-standing battle against public broadcasting. Human Events called him “A courageously outspoken conservative” who has been “fighting off constant attacks from the left to remove him from office.”

But neither The Washington Times nor Human Events mention what first catapulted Tomlinson to fame. Before his appointment to the board overseeing Voice of America, he was on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and from that perch he fervently pursued a campaign to combat the supposed “liberal bias” at PBS. As PFAW reported in June of 2005:

Claiming to have concerns about the “objectivity and balance” of PBS, Tomlinson has used his position as head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to enact an agenda designed to ensure that public broadcasting favorably reflects the Republican agenda, such as

Hiring a White House staffer to draft guidelines for a new PBS ombudsman to monitor programs for bias.

Hiring a Republican lobbyist who had recently resigned from his position as a top aide to Senator Mel Martinez of Florida after writing a memorandum describing how to exploit the Terri Schiavo case for political gain.

Secretly hiring a consultant to monitor broadcasts of “Now with Bill Moyers” for “anti-Bush,” “anti-business” and “anti-Tom DeLay” remarks. Just yesterday it was revealed that the consultant had formerly worked at the National Journalism Center, a right wing organization best known as serving as a training ground for figures such as Ann Coulter.

Pushing to appoint a former co-chairman of the Republican National Committee to be the CPB’s president and chief executive, despite the fact that she has no experience with public broadcasting.

Now Tomlinson will be free to prosecute his extremely dubious “bias” charges without the burden of accountability that comes with government funding. No doubt he will have a receptive audience on the far Right for his forthcoming book.