WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 21) – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s obligation to safeguard public television and radio from political interference does not conflict with its mandate to ensure objectivity and balance, U.S. Representative Steven R. Rothman (D-N.J.) asserted Thursday. Rothman, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, spoke out as a House-Senate conference committee considered funding for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies. The legislation included approximately $400 million for CPB to allocate to National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting Service and other non-commercial broadcast entities.
Rothman stated that he wanted “to call attention to CPB’s obligation to ensure unbiased and objective reporting.” The corporation’s legal mandate to protect public broadcasting from outside interference and to assure strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programming of a controversial nature “reinforce each other,” the congressman stressed.
“There should be no confusion … CPB must implement both [obligations] on behalf of Congress and the taxpayers,” Rothman added. “I strongly believe that the public’s trust in public broadcasting rests on just such standards and I will continue to fight to see that they are maintained.”
Andrea Levin, president and executive director of CAMERA – the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America – welcomed Rothman’s statement. Noting that former CPB chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson was criticized this week in a corporation inspector-general’s report for alleged partisan involvement in programming and hiring, Levin said: “It’s critical that Congress and CPB reaffirm their non-partisan oversight function. No one is entitled to tax funds without supervision – in this case the clear, legal requirement of meeting the objectivity and balance standard.”
Levin pointed out that CAMERA has documented a long pattern of anti-Israel coverage by NPR. “This chronic failure is just the kind of misuse of public money that makes non-partisan oversight, according to established journalistic standards of accuracy, comprehensiveness, objectivity and balance necessary. We applaud Rep. Rothman for his timely reminder.”
The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill, including CPB funding, was returned to conference committee by the full House for revision. “We hope other members of Congress will reaffirm Rep. Rothman’s position – that protecting public broadcasting from political interference does not exempt it from objectivity and balance as it spends the public’s money,” Levin said.
Rothman’s complete statement is posted on CAMERA’s Web site, www.camera.org, which also includes extensive documentation of NPR’s anti-Israel bias.