Big Bird as Red Herring

The New York Times' Frank Rich warns that Sesame Street's Big Bird is the "ornithological equivalent of a red herring." The right's latest assault on public broadcasting is "far more insidious and ingenious" than that seen under Newt Gingrich a decade ago. "The intent is not to kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them by quietly annexing their news and public affairs operations to the larger state propaganda machine that the Bush White House has been steadily constructing at taxpayers' expense. If you liked the fake government news videos that ended up on local stations - or thrilled to the 'journalism' of Armstrong Williams and other columnists who were covertly paid to promote administration policies - you'll love the brave new world this crowd envisions for public TV and radio," Rich writes. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Kenneth Tomlinson has had a "long career as a professional propagandist," including currently heading the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal body that oversees Voice of America, Radio Sawa, and Al Hurra. "That the administration's foremost propagandist would also be chairman of the board of CPB, the very organization meant to shield public broadcasting from government interference, is astonishing," Rich writes.