Public Broadcasting: Your Taxes Fund Liberal Bias

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the bill included language insisting that fairness and objectivity should be observed in “all programming of a controversial nature.” These words were routinely ignored on PBS television broadcasts and NPR news programming. In 1992, Congress toughened that language, and public broadcasters still ignored it. How have PBS and NPR displayed a liberal tilt over the years? How have they dealt with challenges to their taxpayer funding? Take a look at MRC’s archive of articles for examples: 


pbsBran050623June 9, 2005 Media Reality Check: PBS on Tom DeLay: Favors "Virtual Slavery"?

Exhibit A of a liberal bias at PBS is still the program Now, first hosted by Bill Moyers, and now by David Brancaccio. On Friday night, the blatantly partisan ghost of Moyers was still hanging over the broadcast in an attack on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

May 4, 2005 Brent Bozell Column: Alleged Tilt at PBS

From the sound of the New York Times front page on May 2, they must have been waving smelling salts in the face of liberal reporters. CPB’s chairman was getting serious about assessing accuracy and fairness on PBS.

February 22, 2005 Brent Bozell Column: PBS Is "Slightly" Liberal?

Liberal lobbyists inside and outside PBS, including the New York Times editorial page, are once again trying to convince the Congress to allow them to create a massive $5 billion endowment so they may achieve "financial independence."


December 28, 2004 Brent Bozell Column: Bill Moyers, Hypocrite

Bill Moyers ended his tenure at the show Now by raging against harsh attacks on conservative talk radio. But no one has heaped more invective, waved more bloody shirts, and uncorked more pure propaganda than Moyers in the last three years on his weekly PBS drone-fest.

December 14, 2004 Media Reality Check: Moyers Ends With A Silly Whimper (With Real Video)

PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers told the AP that he would end his show by uncovering the major story of our time, the media's conservative bias: “We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line.”


October 4, 2004 Media Reality Check: Gwen Ifill, No Moderate Moderator

Selected to moderate the vice-presidential candidate debate, PBS Washington Week host Gwen Ifill has boldly declared that Republicans conduct “procedural assassinations,” that campaign “reform” opponents are like terrorists, and the Starr Report is like a “truck bomb.”

September 29, 2004 Media Reality Check: Lehrer Favored Liberal Questions in 2000

PBS anchorman Jim Lehrer did not have a promising record as a moderator. In the 2000 debates, Lehrer asked about the need to end racial profiling and for greater control of gun sales, but he found no time to challenge the two candidates from a conservative direction on the divisive effects of racial quotas or the failures of gun control, for example.


Best of Notable Quotables: Bill Moyers Sanctimony Award (With Real Video)

In the most biased winning quote, Moyers compares people who wear American flag pins on their lapels to the Chinese communists who hallowed Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book.

November 11, 2003 Brent Bozell Column NPR’s Kroc-Pot Bubbles Over

NPR received a $200 million contribution from the estate of liberal McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc. She must have felt that putting her money on All Things Considered and Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation was in line with the rest of her political giving.


October 21, 2003 Brent Bozell Column: NPR Admits a Liberal Bias


June 3, 2003 Media Reality Check: Can Moyers Be An Anchor And a Funder?

Stephen F. Hayes reported that Moyers is doing something no commercial network would allow. He’s both the taxpayer-supported network’s most prominent prime-time journalist, and he moonlights as the President of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation.


Best of Notable Quotables: Bill Moyers (Subsidized) Sanctimony Award

In the winning, most biased quote, Moyers attacked the Heritage Foundation for being soft on terrorism.


June 21, 2001 Brent Bozell Column: Another Pro-Gay PBS Summer

Scouts' Honor didn't need to have words beeped out, and it didn't get graphic about gay sex. But it was a remarkable salute to Steven Cozza, a 16-year-old kid whose idea of fun is demeaning the Boy Scouts of America at gay pride rallies.

March 27, 2001 Media Reality Check: The One-Sided “Badge of Honor”

PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers produced a documentary slamming the chemical industry entitled Trade Secrets. They said his complete omission of industry supporters from the documentary was "journalistic malpractice." Moyers said their complaints were “a badge of honor."


October 19, 2000 Brent Bozell Column: The Debates Tilted Left

If the 15 questions that Lehrer chose are in any way indicative of mainstream political opinion, the "uncommitted" voters are stuck between voting for Gore...or Ralph Nader. Eight of them may as well have been Gore campaign press releases.

chavez051300May 25, 2000 Brent Bozell Column: Incivility Reigns at PBS (With Real Video)

On the PBS female-pundit show To The Contrary, host Bonnie Erbe insulted conservative Linda Chavez on her need for a gun to defend herself: "you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning, Linda, than living where you live, and at your age, being raped. Sorry.

October 18 Media Reality Check: Lehrer Picks Pile of Liberal Questioners

PBS anchor and moderator Jim Lehrer reported the questioners were "voters who were identified as being uncommitted by the Gallup organization." Lehrer chose which of the more than 100 people would ask questions. Only one asked a conservative question.

October 12 Media Reality Check: Lehrer Repeated Shaw’s Liberal Questions

Presidential debate moderator and PBS anchor Jim Lehrer asked more liberal questions, mostly by repeating the most liberal questions CNN’s Bernard Shaw asked at the vice presidential debate.

October 3 Media Reality Check: Stop the Church of St. James Lehrer

The media touted the fairness of PBS anchor Jim Lehrer. He does have a "quiet, self-effacing style," as NBC reported. He is not Bryant Gumbel. But his journalism has historically followed the liberal pack.


October 14 Brent Bozell Column: Bill Moyers, Scaife of the Left

Reporter Frank Greve discovered that PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers is the Scaife counterpart of the vast left-wing "campaign finance reform" conspiracy, earning $200,000 a year as president of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, a major funder of campaign “reform” groups.

September 10 Media Reality Check: PBS Misleads Congress

A magazine reported "the Corporation for Public Broadcasting acknowledged late Wednesday that CPB and PBS executives provided inaccurate testimony to a congressional panel,” claiming that they swapped direct-mail lists with Republicans. But the swaps were only with Democrats.

July 20, 1999 Press Release: Partial Transcript of Testimony of MRC’s Tim Graham

MRC Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection on the direct-mail list swaps between PBS stations and the Democratic National Committee.

July 15 Brent Bozell Column: The PBS-Democrat Complex Is Exposed

For five years, PBS stations were direct-mail list-swapping with the Democratic National Committee. Not only do Republicans surrender their tax dollars to get defamed by liberal programs, stations like WGBH take their tax dollars and helps the Democrats with their direct-mail fundraising.


October 19, 1998 MediaWatch Review: Democrats Greedy, But GOP Worse

Bill Moyers returned to PBS after a long absence for the latest liberal installment on October 6, titled "Washington’s Other Scandal." Frontline apparently couldn’t stand the thought of devoting an hour to a President lying to Congress, a grand jury, and the entire public, since it was "just about sex.” It was another sermon for campaign finance “reform.”

October 16 Media Reality Check: Public Broadcasting, Still A Partisan Tool

Once again, NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who broke Anita Hill's unproven sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas in 1991 and compared her Hill leaks to Watergate, covered the Paula Jones case as a politically injurious "Clinton-bashing" enterprise.

February 26 Brent Bozell Column: PBS Remembers Reagan – For A Reason

PBS’s The American Experience remembered Ronald Reagan for winning the Cold War, but without noting the war PBS waged on the Reagan foreign policy, including live coverage of the Iran-Contra hearings. Its domestic-policy minutes contained the same old liberal slurs.

January 6 Brent Bozell Column: Garrison’s Friendly Fire at NPR

Garrison Keillor, the star of public radio’s Prairie Home Companion, was mad that PBS failed to be leftist enough. He would just as soon pull the plug on public TV altogether: "I don't think there's any reason for public television to exist anymore, I honestly don't.


November 1997 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: Washington Week in Revisionism

Instead of live coverage of congressional hearings into illegal fundraising, the PBS show Washington Week in Review devoted parts of four shows to an analysis of campaign funding. But instead of focusing on law-breaking, host Ken Bode promoted campaign finance "reform."

November 13, 1997 Brent Bozell Column: The Profiteering Barney Scam

The makers of the PBS show Barney & Friends sued the “San Diego Chicken” for copyright infringement. Barney the dinosaur was the third richest entertainer on the Forbes list in 1994. What's gone utterly forgotten in this story is that taxpayers paid millions to start Barney off.

July 24 Brent Bozell Column: Where’s PBS’s Gavel-to-Gavel Coverage?

PBS cleared the decks for live coverage of the Watergate hearings, the Iran-Contra hearings, and the NPR-prodded kangaroo court known as the Hill-Thomas hearings. But in the Clinton years, only four to six percent of PBS stations covered Whitewater or Waco hearings, and PBS passed on the Senate hearings into illegal Democratic fundraising from foreign donors.

June 12, 1997 Brent Bozell Column: Two New Developments of PBS

A former PBS president explores the idea of running commercials on public TV, and Frontline does its first Clinton-scandal hour on Asian fundraising and Oklahoma power politics.

February 6, 1997 Brent Bozell Column: NPR, Voice of Hypocrisy

National Public Radio hasn't shrunk from presenting itself as the scourge of corporate bigotry, but this champion of the onerous anti-discrimination regimes was pecked by the chickens coming home to roost. NPR has been sued for race discrimination and sexual harassment.


January 1996 MediaNomics Article: Donations Rise As Funding Threatened

In 1995, Newt Gingrich's talk of zeroing out of federal funding, which even haughty public broadcasters took seriously, led to station donation increases of 15 to 40 percent.

December 5, 1996 Brent Bozell Column: Before You Pledge to PBS...

Read Laurence Jarvik’s book PBS: Behind the Screen.

November 1996 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: James Fallows on Press-Hating

James Fallows' book Breaking the News: How the Media Undermine Democracy led a new, liberal attack on the media: too wealthy, too distant from the common people, too conservative. So Frontline aired a Fallows-boosting documentary titled "Why Americans Hate the Press.”

October 10, 1996 Brent Bozell Column: PBS Puts Its Power (And Your Dollars) Behind Clinton 

Frontline’s documentary on the presidential choice showed Bob Dole as the dark figure from the harsh plains of Kansas whose mentor was...Richard Nixon. Clinton, by contrast, was the seductive charmer from the gentle terrain of Arkansas, who was like a Baptist minister.

October 1996 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: PBS Argues Media Out of Touch

PBS funded -- without any rebuttal -- Hedrick Smith's four-hour documentary on how Washington works, The People and the Power Game, which devoted the first hour to his claim that Bill Clinton has been abused by the media, while Newt Gingrich employed “extremist polemics.”


June 1995 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: All Things Ill-Considered

CBS's 60 Minutes aired a one-sided NPR-boosting segment with accordion-playing grandmas in Sitka, Alaska, suggesting there is no effete liberalism on NPR.

February 1995 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: Clinton Fails Liberal Litmus Test

Three months after a dramatic conservative electoral wave, PBS's Frontline focused on how President Clinton had failed to be liberal enough in three areas: gays in the military, campaign finance reform, and government "investments" in job training.


February 1994 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: Moyers Confirms Bias

Bill Moyers' Journal featured a unanimous panel of nine experts who believe wealth is ruining democracy. The Clinton administration always let corporations win. Democratic bills on campaign-finance "reform" were always too weak.


August 1993 MediaWatch Study: Stacking the Deck at Frontline

MRC analysts reviewed every new Frontline broadcast during the last three seasons (72 programs) and found conservative arguments and experts were completely ignored in eight programs on race relations and seven shows on the environment.


September 1992 MediaWatch Article: Mrs. Bush Fights Back

As PBS anchor Judy Woodruff pounded Barbara Bush about uncivil comments made about Bill Clinton just before the GOP convention, the First Lady took Woodruff to task: "Look, you're saying nothing nice ... where were you during the Democrat convention defending us?

May 1992 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: Oops on the October Surprise

Frontline attempts a documentary digging out of its collapsed reporting on the supposed Reagan-campaign conspiracy, but digs a deeper hole. (Scroll down for more on this and on Bill Moyers.)

February 1992 MediaWatch Article: Bill "I Have No Agenda" Moyers

At a PBS press tour, Moyers claimed conservatives have offered "no substantive analysis of my work that would confirm their desire to label me, as I think he [David Horowitz] said yesterday, 'a left-wing Democrat.'"


November 1991 MediaWatch Article: October Surprise Unravels

Newsweek and The New Republic debunked the Frontline claims of a 1980 Reagan-campaign conspiracy to delay the release of American hostages in Iran for political gain. (Scroll down for PBS/NPR coverage of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings.)

August 1991 MediaWatch Article: Critics Love "Tongues Untied"

The PBS series P.O.V. (Point of View) aired the Marlon Riggs film Tongues Untied, parading his gay lifestyle. With its profanity, frontal nudity, large caricatures of penises, and gay lovers in bed, Tongues Untied displayed graphic sexual language and images, but liberal TV critics rained praise on courageous PBS.

April 1991 MediaWatch Article: Moyers Roots for Democrats

Speaking at a Democratic Issues Conference, PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers declared his heart still pounds for the Donkey Party: "Down there in Texas I was raised on mother's milk and Roosevelt speeches and over the years I still cherish the party's defining stands."


December 1990 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: PBS Planet Panic

The ten-part PBS series Race to Save the Planet urged viewers to support an "environmental revolution" of drastic government measures or face "enormous calamities in a very short time." When asked why an opposing view was not included, a producer declared, "There are ways of confusing the public in putting ping-pong matches onto television which we did not particularly think was useful."

December 1990 MediaWatch Article: Not Exactly Seoul Brothers

The six-hour series Korea: The Unknown War hailed North Korea's Stalinist leaders for rebuilding "the North's powerful industries. They improved the position of education and women."

September 1990 MediaWatch Article: Prisoners vs. Propagandists

After two years of dismissal, PBS aired the anti-communist documentary Nobody Listened, when it could be balanced by Saul Landau's film The Uncompromising Revolution. Landau lauded Castro: "Fidel touched this young machine adjuster and the man enjoyed a mild ecstasy. I know the feeling."


December 1989 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: "America's Century"

Harper's Editor Lewis Lapham was awarded a six-part series loaded with liberals (five times as many liberals as conservatives), and sulfurous in its attacks on American imperialism. In supporting the Contras, President Reagan "sold out his oath of office and subverted the Constitution."

October 1989 MediaWatch Article: One-Party PBS

In a PBS series titled The Struggle for Democracy, Canadian journalist Patrick Watson claimed that "compared with some African horror stories, Zimbabwe has to be a democratic success, despite the one-party state."

July 1989 MediaWatch Article: PBS: Only Liberals Allowed

While PBS aired plenty of liberal fare, films with a different point a view were spurned. The Other Europe by Jacques Rupnik and Soviets at the Crossroads were apparently insufficiently optimistic about the Soviet Union. But old Moyers specials were recycled.


June 1988 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: Joining the Christic Cause

The PBS documentary series Frontline laid out the lawsuit of the leftist Christic Institute charging a "Secret Team" of CIA operatives tried to assassinate a leader of the Nicaragua Contra freedom fighters, with special attention to the conspiracy theories of a liberal Senator named John Kerry.

January 1988 MediaWatch Janet Cooke Award Article: Moyers on "God and Politics"

PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers complained about the growing conservatism of the Southern Baptist Convention, but praised the communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua as "a movement that is fueled with Christian passion and Christian commitment."