(Updated) Why is Public Television against public schools?

I’ve written off and on about PBS, NPR and the fact that these self-styled “public” media outlets appear to have been captured by the billionaires (like James Tisch and David Koch) who control the major content-producing stations — WNET in New York, WGBH in Boston and WETA in Washington.

But wait, there’s more. Thanks to the Stars Hollow Gazette, we find this, from Peter Dreier at Huffington Post (my emphasis and paragraphing):

Why Is Public Television Against Public Schools?

You’d think that that public television would support public education, but you’d be wrong. The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has gotten in bed with the billionaires and conservatives who want to privatize our public schools.

Money doesn't talk; it buys everything in sight.

Money doesn’t talk; it buys everything in sight, like PBS.

PBS has nary a word to say about the big money — from folks like the Walton family (Walmart), Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Eli Broad, business titan and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klein (former NYC schools chancellor and now a Murdoch employee), and their ilk — that has been funding the attack on public schools and teachers unions. They’ve donated big bucks to advocacy groups, think tanks, and candidates for school boards who echo the their party line.

[But] PBS and its local stations have fallen all over themselves to promote “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary film that could easily been mistaken for a commercial on behalf of charter schools. In contrast, missing from the lineups on most PBS affiliates is a remarkable new documentary film, “Go Public,” about the day in the life of a public school system in California. The film celebrates public schools without ignoring their troubles. Americans who care about public schools should contact their local PBS affiliates and urge them to broadcast “Go Public.”

And a list of PBS’s “crimes” against truth in education advocacy:

On PBS, there’s a virtual broadcast blackout of major critics of this assault on public education. One of them is historian Diane Ravitch, author of ten books about education …

PBS has failed to report on, much less investigate, one of the most well-funded political campaigns in the last few decades — the propaganda crusade to disparage public schools and public school teachers. …

The billionaires supply the money but others do most of the talking. The chief cheerleaders include Michelle Rhee (former Washington, D.C. school chief who now runs Schools First, a corporate-funded lobby group), Wendy Kopp (founder of Teach for America), Geoffrey Canada (founder of Harlem Children’s Zone), [Obama’s hand-picked] Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Klein. They routinely get to spew their propaganda on PBS. …

One horrid, telling example of the intersection of big money, charter schools and anti-public school propaganda:

Should you be financing the "new PBS"? Let the billionaires do that.

Should you be financing the “new PBS”?
Let the billionaires do that.

Last month, for example, Families for Excellent Schools — a pro-charter school group funded by the Walton family (Walmart heirs) and Wall Street financiers — spent $3.6 million on TV ads over a three-week period to attack New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his opposition to giving charter schools free space in the city’s public schools. The ringleader of this business-funded lobby is Eva Moskowitz, a former NYC councilwoman who operates 22 city charter schools with millions of dollars in assets and earns a $475,000 salary.

And there’s more; read the article for all that PBS does to promote the billionaire anti-public education agenda. What’s really going on? Last quote; Dreier nails it here:

The corporate big-wigs are part of an effort that they and the media misleadingly call “school reform.” What they’re really after is not “reform” (improving our schools for the sake of students) but “privatization” (business control of public education).

All you need to know.

Did PBS sleep next to a pod?

I think PBS went to sleep in the Reagan 80s, and woke up next to a pod. We’re watching — and financing — the result, as if the “old PBS” were still alive.

It isn’t. And about that financing … don’t. Let the billionaires spend their own money to keep their “public” propaganda machine oiled. Don’t you do it. I’m serious — stop financing PBS today.

If you’re interested in the documentary mentioned above, “Go Public”, the trailer is here. Enjoy.

Update: For a note about terminology, see this good comment. The key idea is that the major “public television” stations, like WNET, WGBH and WETA, as noted above, create content (programs) that are made available by PBS, the distributor, to all “public television” stations, who decide what to run. Frontline, for example, is produced at WGBH. That horrible anti-pension propaganda series Pension Peril was produced by WNET and run on News Hour. If you think WGBH is “clean,” think again. David Koch sits on their Board of Directors.

So what is “public television”? It’s the whole thing. In other words, they’re all in bed with each other. My point stands — don’t give money to any public television entity involved in the promotion of billionaire propaganda, like that described here. Don’t give to WGBH until David Koch resigns.

If you want to keep Bill Moyers in business, or Terry Gross, give to them directly.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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