NYC PBS Pres. Freaks Out Over Documentary Critical of Koch Bros., Offers David Koch Unprecedented Rebuttal

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Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

Thom Hartmann recently wrote an extremely widely read article on how the Public Broadcasting Service has evolved into a sometimes self-censored television network, in large part because major donors represent the 1% who would be the subject of discussion when it comes to economic concentration in the hands of a few.

Hartmann entitled his commentary, "The Corporate Dictatorship of PBS and NPR." The primary example Hartmann offers of how critical analysis necessary for formulating public policy is de facto censored concerns how PBS dropped the funding of a documentary called "Citizen Koch." [...]

Enter Alex Gibney, who won a 2008 Academy Award... Gibney filmed a documentary for WNET, "Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream" that focused on one of the wealthiest residential buildings in New York City: 740 Park Avenue.

According to Jane Mayer, who had written about the Kochs before in a celebrated New Yorker article in 2010, it would be difficult to do a film about 740 Park Avenue without examining the Koch empire that created their wealth, as well as their political activities. What did WNET President Neal Shapiro do when he realized that "Park Avenue" might offend David Koch? Why, he called him and offered him a rebuttal, a roundtable discussion, a written response: anything that would appease a 1% donor who was on the board of the station (Koch has since quit) and was about to give a bundle to WNET. [...]

Gibney was told that the most pressing problem was Charles Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York. Schumer’s staff had called WNET, arguing that “Park Avenue” falsely accused the Senator of supporting tax loopholes for hedge-fund managers. Gibney double-checked his research and stood by his interpretation. [...]

[T]he WNET battle over "Park Avenue" clearly intimidated, according to Meyer's New Yorker Piece, other documentary makers in terms of what appeared to be a growing PBS bias to protect wealthy donors and board members from on-air criticism.

Please read the entire post here.

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  • KDelphi

    why in the world trust them with funding??

  • jeanabella

    Kochs & their ilk (Romney) want to defund PBS & NPR so they are in fact beholden to their large donations.
    The answer is to fully fund them with public money only. No Corporate influence for our public airwaves from at least one outlet!

  • Sally

    Gee, maybe it is time to defund PBS and NPR. They are no longer unbiased journalism, but more puppets of the right.