Throwback Thursday: PBS Ombudsman Supposed to Keep His Own House in Order–Not Throw Stones at Others!

Michael-GetlerSurely this is a joke: Michael Getler, the PBS Ombudsman, is now gratuitously stepping outside of his job description, denouncing Fox News.

Getler the citizen, of course, has a right to his liberal opinions, but Getler the ombudsman has less latitude, and more duty. But Getler has no right to do his Fox-bashing in his official capacity as PBS’s Ombudsman. Not only is he trashing another operation, but he is public employee trashing a private media company. Isn’t that an example of the dreaded “chilling effect” on the First Amendment? Or is it OK to chill a non-liberal media outfit?

As Getler concedes, his swipe at Fox “has nothing to do with PBS but has a lot to do, in my opinion, with broadcast ethics, the use of doctored photographs in a particularly degrading fashion, and a mainstream press that didn’t seem to take much notice.” Not taken much notice? That is even more b.s., because as observed here at TCG and everywhere else across the mediaverse, the MSM took abundant notice of Fox’s photo-altering.

But none of that should matter, either way, because the position of ombudsman, of course, is very specific. An ombudsman (or ombudswoman) is supposed to be a watchdog for a specific institution, sort of like an inspector general. An ombudsman is supposed to criticize, if necessary, his own institution. He or she is NOT supposed to criticize other institutions. And of course, that’s doubly true with a public entity, such as PBS.

Here’s what PBS own website says about the function of the ombudsman job at PBS:

As ombudsman, Michael Getler serves as an independent internal critic within PBS. He reviews commentary and criticism from viewers and seeks to ensure that PBS upholds its own standards of editorial integrity.

Now I am sure that Getler has a legal opinion–as many as he wants from ideologically sympathetic lawyers–saying that he is free to write about anything he pleases, including blog posts criticizing Fox. No doubt such Fox-bashing will help him with his liberal friends. But that doesn’t make it right. Not right for PBS, and not right for the taxpayers, who, one way or another, fund PBS.

And in view of the scathing criticism that PBS has reaped over its moral-equivalence-peddling WW 2 documentary hosted by Niall Ferguson,”War of the World,” one would think that Getler would be too busy addressing those criticisms to worry about much else, let alone worry about another TV network altogether, which is totally outside of his portfolio.

But you be wrong if you thought that. Admittedly, you have to reach deep into Getler’s post to get to this Fox-bashing, but there it is, folks–here’s Getler criticizing Fox:

Now, back to the item near the top of this column. The situation I am referring to involves the Fox News Channel broadcast “Fox & Friends” on the morning of July 2. On that program, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade labeled New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and his editor, Steven Reddicliffe, as “attack dogs” because of a June 28 news story in the Times that Steinberg, who covers television, had written about new cable channel ratings.

And he goes on and on, ragging on Fox, citing The New York Times as an authority on Fox:

This story reported on soon-to-be released cable news ratings that showed Fox in the top spot with those viewers of great interest to advertisers, but that for the first three months of the year, CNN had vaulted over Fox. And the reporter cited “a more ominous trend for Fox” in these numbers which showed that CNN and MSNBC “have added viewers at far more dramatic rates.”

Now of course, Getler makes no mention of the fact that Vanity Fair devoted a whole section to insulting caricatures of Fox talent. Now is such nasty photoshopping bad? Or is it only bad when Fox does it? Don’t hold your breath waiting for Getler to attack Vanity Fair for doing exactly what he attacked Fox for doing.

Once again, it’s worth repeating that all of Getler’s ranting against Fox has nothing to do with his actual job at PBS. Getler should be figuring out how to clean up PBS before he worries about Fox.

One more piece of evidence that PBS is always determined to push the liberal agenda.

Reposted from The Cable Game, 11 July 2008


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