Tag: PBS

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Tonight: Frontline: Trump’s American Carnage “From his first days as president to his last, how Trump stoked division, violence, and insurrection. Trump’s siege on his enemies, the media, and even the leaders of his own party, who for years ignored the warning signs of what was to come.” Preview Open

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Living in the Hate of the Common People, continued


In late December, I posted Living in the Hate of the Common People, which was inspired by the comment of an anti-Brexit Brit who said “I think we need to find a way to stop the working class from voting altogether” and also “Idiots and racists shouldn’t be able to ruin the lives of people who do well in life by voting for things they don’t understand. The problem in this country boils down to low information morons having the ability to vote.” I cited other examples of the same kind of thinking.

Yesterday, it was reported (by Veritas) that a lawyer employed by PBS had resigned after being caught saying things like it was “great” that coronavirus cases were spiking in red states because they might infect Trump voters and suggested that Republican voters should have their children put in re-education camps.

TV History Thursday Night, Part 4: You’re (Not) Watching PBS


That’s an article from 13 years ago, at a critical moment in the history of broadcasting. Yes, the American Cinema Foundation was hosting a big Hollywood event, a national online conversation about the future of PBS, sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Yes, the American Cinema Foundation was well known as a group of Hollywood conservatives. The irony of that title is that what keynote speaker Rob Long demanded wasn’t a seat at the PBS table at all. He wanted it ended, but in the nicest, wittiest, most reasonable way. For weeks, the “blob” of employees and administrators of PBS stations sputtered in rage. But what they didn’t do—the only thing that might have saved most of their jobs over the following decade—was to listen to us. We were polite. We were entirely polite. We said, “You’re doomed”.

Public broadcasting wasn’t always a political issue. Well, it was once only a mildly political issue. When the first college instructional stations signed on in the mid-Fifties, there was still widespread, bipartisan belief that TV could bring the very best teachers into every classroom within reach of an antenna. The US armed forces, faced with the Cold War job of instructing hundreds of thousands of recruits about the new mysteries of electronics and atomic energy, worked hand in hand with universities and the corporate world to explore the possibilities of mass teaching through television. This was true on the other side of the Iron Curtain as well.

Your local college TV station was probably started by a professor of electrical engineering who learned his stuff in the Army. It might have been built from donations of Raytheon, General Electric, and Texas Instruments parts. Those were the earliest, most naive days of educational TV. If you watched old Doc Jensen talk about Egyptian mummies and pyramids every morning at 7:45 and passed a test, you could get college credit.

“Hi, What Did You Do with the Confederacy?”


MercyStreetPosterwSawboneI live in Alexandria, VA, a close-in suburb of Washington. On a good day, I can be in DC in 10 minutes. On a great day, I wouldn’t be in DC (rimshot). I love it here, though. According to our local blog, Red Brick Town, “Alexandria, Virginia is the Most Liberal City in Virginia.” I live in a section of town called Del Ray, which is the tip of the liberal iceberg. I like to call it a hippie commune, with multiple yoga studios, holistic medicine practitioners, and coffee shops mere blocks from each other. One of the coffee shops has a Moms Demand gun control sign in their window. As a pretty hard right conservative, I don’t fit in at all, but, that is pretty much the story of my life.

Recently, I started taking water aerobics at the local YMCA. As a 44-year old man, I am 1) the youngest in the class and 2) the only guy. Not a problem as everyone is kind and welcoming, probably because I haven’t told any of them I work for NRA News. The only time I felt awkward was yesterday, when I couldn’t contribute to the classwide discussion of hot flashes. I just stared at the wall and prayed that it would end.

The water aerobics ladies also discussed “Downton Abbey,” another topic I have no clue about, but at least it’s not cringe-inducing. One of them mentioned PBS was coming out with a new series that took place here in Alexandria, called “Mercy Street.” I found that to be an interesting tidbit, then went back to trying not to drown as we did our underwater karate kicks.

Sesame Street Moving to HBO. A Nail in the Coffin for PBS?


Bert_and_ErnieFor the next five seasons, new episodes of Sesame Street will run first on HBO (and its online partners), then on PBS nine months later. As part of the deal, PBS gets the show for free.

So, is this 1) simply a creative funding arrangement for PBS; 2) a nail in the coffin for PBS’ very existence; or 3) best yet  — and my personal opinion — yet more proof that PBS does not need federal subsidies to stay alive and stay “public”?

For those of you still scratching your head over this partnership, it makes perfect sense from a business perspective. Though Sesame Street received funding from PBS, that money amounted to less than 10 percent of the funding needed to produce the series. The remaining cash was procured through licensing revenue from DVD and merchandise sales. However, as more and more people turn to streaming and VOD services, fewer and fewer people are purchasing the physical media which used to be Sesame Workshop’s bread and butter. According to The New York Times, approximately two-thirds of children who currently watch Sesame Street do so on demand rather than watching on PBS. Naturally, if we want more Oscar the Grouch in our lives, Sesame Workshop had to find alternate ways of financing his high-rolling, trash-dwelling lifestyle.