Playbook of Panic: PBS President Suggests Trump Will Shut Down Tiny Alaska Stations

Variety reported the summer tour of the Television Critics Association included PBS president Paula Kerger inveighing against the Trump administration plan to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in its budget. It's an easy bet that Congress won't accomplish that, but the usual statist arguments are being made: 

“PBS itself will not go away, but a number of our stations will,” Kerger said, talking about the possible outcome should CPB be defunded. “There isn’t a Plan B for that. For all of us in public media, we have linked arms to make an effective case because we know what’s at risk if that funding disappears.”

Kerger singled out Alaska as one state where public broadcasting would be especially hard hit.

"Linking arms" means "let's pretend the small stations will go out of business, when we all know one station in Los Angeles normally gets more taxpayer money than ten in Alaska." They also use this argument to suggest PBS or NPR somehow isn't a liberal sandbox because it plays in rural red states (and tries to turn them blue as well). 

This playbook has been in use for decades. Let's travel back to 1995, when Newt Gingrich wanted to defund public broadcasting, and an NPR-defending puff piece on 60 Minutes: 

CBS tried to disprove liberal elitism at NPR by showing non-political programs. [Morley] Safer proclaimed: "This side of NPR is not exactly a Republican congressman's idea of effete liberalism at work. Meet Alice McChesney, star of KCAW, Sitka, Alaska." Displaying an accordion-playing grandmother does not answer the argument that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting could make massive cuts and still fund rural stations.

But unlike 1995, Alaskan consumers can get all kinds of programming online and on Netflix, and even Sesame Street now airs first on HBO. Kerger's liberal publicists in the media won't tell you why funding PBS stations isn't necessary any more, or what kind of unbalanced liberal propaganda they are still broadcasting with our conservative money.


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