Washington, D.C. (December 23) – Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) has reaffirmed the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s “requirement to ensure “˜strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature’.” Brownback, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, made his remarks December 21 during consideration of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill. The legislation includes about $400 million for CPB.
According to Brownback, the corporation’s obligation “to see that recipients like the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio uphold the objectivity and balance standard does not stem from congressional micro-management or partisan interference. Rather, it is a matter of complying with the law under which CPB dispenses taxpayers’ money.”
The senator noted that the corporation is mandated to see to both “”˜maximum freedom of the telecommunications entities’ and their “˜strict adherence to objectivity and balance.'” He stressed that these requirements are not conflicting but complementary. “To maintain Americans’ confidence in public broadcasting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting must see that both mandates are fulfilled. Congress and the taxpayers expect nothing less.”
The president and national executive director of CAMERA – the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America – Andrea Levin, praised Brownback’s statement. “CAMERA long has urged CPB and Congress to reaffirm their oversight function when it comes to tax-supported public broadcasters. It remains true that no one is entitled to government subsidies without supervision – in this case the clear, legal requirement of meeting the objectivity and balance standard.”
Levin noted that last month Rep. Steven Rothman (D-N.J.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, issued a similar statement during consideration of the Labor, Health and Human Services bill in the lower chamber. “The reaffirmation of CPB’s obligation to uphold the “˜objectivity and balance’ standard on behalf of Congress, by members of both parties, reinforces the bi-partisan nature of the standard.”
She added that CAMERA has documented unobjective, unbalanced Israel news coverage by National Public Radio. “NPR’s long pattern of biased reporting on this issue is the kind of misuse of public funds that necessitates oversight according to established journalistic standards. We thank Senator Brownback, as we previously thanked Representative Rothman, for his timely reminder.”
CAMERA is a 50,000-member, non-profit, non-partisan news media monitor and educational organization.