Saturday, November 05, 2005



You know all the spoof e-mails you've gotten over the years about how NPR was about to be voted out of existence? Every year or two some of my savviest friends get sucked into that and take part in an orgy of Nina Totenberg hysteria that sweeps the net. But, with this right-wing Congress it's no wonder that people fall for it. I mean if they can cut billions of dollars from food stamps and Medicare and education, who's to say they won't turn around one sunny day and defund public broadcasting?

This weekend, however, there is an NPR-related story circulating that is very true and this one fits in with the Bush Regime's concerted efforts to undermine the very foundation of an informed public able to participate meaningfully in our democratic institutions, as well as in that which Bushism has become synonymous with: cronyism. It is the story Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, a very bad character, who was kicked off the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Thursday, where, as Chairman he sought to force more conservative programs on public radio and television. (Owning the commercial airwaves and spewing out all their lies via Fox, MSNBC, CNN, Clear Channel, Limbaugh, O'Liely, Hannity, the vast network of right-wing religionist broadcasters, etc isn't enough for them. The authoritarian Right will always seek a uniform message of lies and distortions they can control and depend on.)

Even before the Bush Regime installed Tomlinson on the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in order to undermine it from within, he was already being used as a kind of Bush-league version of Nazi propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels (sorry Rush) through his position as head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries (like the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Marti, Radio Sawa and al-Hurra), with over 100 million listeners a week. Tomlinson hasn't been fired from the job yet, although it is likely that momentarily he will decide he needs to spend more time with his family and resign.

So the question is who the hell is he and why was he fired? Basically he's a Rove crony, an unabashed right-wing loon with a penchant for opportunistic self-serving as big as his pronounced tendency towards partisan propaganda (which is, after all, the reason Rove installed him in both his positions). Unfortunately for the disintegrating Rovean empire, Tomlinson has been caught misusing federal money in a great number of ways and his criminality is so clear that even BushCo can't worm out of this one.

The Inspector General of the State Department has been investigating Tomlinson since July when it came to light that he was stealing taxpayer dollars for himself personally and for his partisan right-wing projects. He was using board money for corporation activities, using board employees to do corporation work and hiring ghost employees and unqualified employees (ie- cronies). Several secret Tomlinson contracts, disclosed in the investigation, provided for unauthorized and possibly illegal payments to a researcher who monitored the political content of several shows, including the much-admired and, by the Far Right, much-feared Bill Moyers show, and payments to at least 2 Republican lobbyists who he illegally hired to help defeat a proposal in Congress that would have required greater representation of broadcasters on the corporation's board. And everything he did was directed by... Karl Rove, as e-mails the Inspector General has seized show.


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