PBS

Posted: February 16, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

David Sirota of Pando has written a fascinating article outlining some funny business at PBS.  One of PBS’s funders, John Arnold, has backed a series that is critically of public pensions.  Is this reporting or advertorial?  Sirota reports that PBS denies any conflict of interest.  However, they refuse to release any documents that would verify their claim.  Sirota also cites an expert who points out that grant payments could be made over time, which means that PBS needs to play ball with Arnold if they want him to pay the full grant.  So much for PBS being the voice of the “liberal media.”

What really bothers me about this story is that we have in Arnold another “poor” billionaire who wants to strip working people of their retirement security.  Why can’t billionaires be happy with their money and leave the little people alone?  Maybe they’re chess addicts who see the working and middle class as pawns that must be sacrificed.  Thanks to David Sirota and others who have reported on this story, we have the chance to see the game they are playing and understand its consequences.

Think twice before you give to PBS or NPR.  They have billionaire friends and well-endowed foundations who can pay to keep the propaganda coming.

P.S.  Sirota updated his story with one from the New York Times that PBS will return the $3.5 million given by Arnold’s foundation.  Will they keep spreading his message?  That’s the real question.

Posted: April 4, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

I never met Roger Ebert, but he’s always been a part of my life.  From PBS movie reviews in the 1970s to his writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebert talked about movies in language that a normal person could understand.  While he was brilliant, he never talked down to his readers.  Instead, he was one of us, the person sitting next to us, a fan of movies.

Roger Ebert died today after a long bout with cancer.  I’m assuming his death was unexpected because his friend the columnist Neil Steinberg wrote a great piece entitled: “Roger Ebert is not Going Away” in today’s paper.  Ebert announced yesterday that his cancer had returned and that he would be reviewing fewer films.  He described his decision as a “leave of presence.”  Responding to Ebert’s words, “I am not going away,” Steinberg wrote: “This is certainly true.  He couldn’t, even if he never wrote another word.  He is lodged in the culture he swayed, in the minds of readers across the world, and in the hearts of his friends at the Sun-Times.” I’d add the hearts of his viewers and readers of several decades.

A person like Roger Ebert does leave us at death – his presence remains as long as we live.

Posted: January 15, 2012
By: Clay Cerny

[On Sundays, this blog explores intersections of life and work in “Sabbath.”]

Bill Moyers retired from his PBS show Bill Moyers Journal a couple of years ago.  However, Moyers, now 77, has not retired.  He is back with a new venture called Moyers & Company.  Over the past years, he has also continued to write and give interviews.

Many on the right and some in the mushy middle condemn Moyers as a “liberal,” as if that label made someone not worth listening or respecting.  Moyers, on the other hand, presents his ideas without insult or name-calling.  If someone disagrees with his position, he listens and engages them in dialogue, a quality lacking in American politics and society today.

Moyers criticizes a political model of “winner take all” and argues that inequality is not simply the result of market forces, but political scheming.  Are these positions liberal?  Yes.  But, unlike many of his critics, Moyers and his guests lay out ideas in clear language, not talking points and phony statistics.  In another video essay, Moyers ponders the contemporary relevance of the folk singer Woody Guthrie.

In a time of simplified ideas and political campaigns based on finger-pointing TV commercials, Bill Moyers is a welcome antidote to the poison that threatens our democracy.  He wants his audience to think about an issue and understand its full complexity.  Agree with him or disagree, love him or hate him, Moyers offers his viewers real news, something we don’t get from corporate news readers. 

When Bill Moyers left PBS, American lost an important voice.  Now that he is back on TV and the Internet, we have more ways to engage with this interesting thinker. That’s a good thing to do on the Sabbath – Think about how to make life better for others and how to live a better life.