Republican Hypocrisy and PBS

An institution long reviled by the opposition party somehow looks a whole lot different when that party is in power.

So it is with Republicans and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS and NPR, once denounced as government doing what private industry should – and liberal to boot.

Now CPB is headed by a Republican who is promising to root out liberal bias, and the new head of PBS is a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

That, plus the usual masterful PR campaign by public radio and TV stations, has led the Republican-run House to reverse a leadership-backed 25 percent funding cut – $100 million – for public broadcast and to eliminate another provision that would have ended all funding of CPB after two years.

In fact, the GOP leadership put up only token resistance. In the over-the-top rhetoric of these debates, no one wants to be fingered as the politician who killed Big Bird.

The restoration is all the more remarkable because the funding is part of a larger $142.5 billion spending bill – for federal health, education and labor programs – where the House is struggling mightily to find savings. Even President Bush’s signature No Child Left Behind Act faces an $806 million cut.

Television doesn’t usually look any different regardless of where you sit, but apparently – for lawmakers, at least – public television does.

(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)