Who Needs Big Bird, Anyway?
The latest battle over funding for the Public Broadcasting Corporation really should be a defining moment for liberals and leftists-especially those with a little spare change in their wallets or pocketbooks.
Anyone who is genuinely on the left should have no problem watching right-wingers in Congress slash the tax subsidy for PBS and NPR. Both outfits long ago ceased to be alternative media resources. If anything, they have been contributing to the right’s agenda by offering up such pabulum in the guise of liberal culture and news.
The truth is, we’d be better of if they both either went under or became just another pair of right-wing mouthpieces. That might force people who are sick of being lied to to go out and find real sources of progressive news and culture.
Jim Lehrer and Juan Williams might have to go and find real jobs.
Of course, there’s always the possibility-remote, I grant–that if PBS and NPR were yanked off the government teat, and forced to go to their viewers and listeners for all their operating budget needs, they might actually listen to what their dwindling audience base has been saying: that they have lost their way and need to be edgier in their cultural programming-maybe bringing back indy documentaries and maybe covering the news from something other than a white male perspective. Maybe NPR would stop acting like a long-winded version of the commercial news stations.
Nah. It’s a pipedream. Any outfit that can take dirty money to burnish the reputation of the likes of an Archer-Daniels Midland or a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is not going to become a beacon of progressivism.
Let them go to sink or swim in their own swamp or compromise and mediocrity.
Just ignore the panicked appeals of MoveOn and other breathless liberal groups. The kids’ll get by just fine without Big Bird and Telly Monster teaching them how to have 30-second attention spans along with their ABCs.
Your money would be much better spent buying your kids books at your local independent bookstore, or buying yourself a subscription to Counterpunch or In These Times (or even a This Can’t Be Happening! T-shirt).
Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org