Red-headed bloviator Brent Bozell, whom we hate to love to hate, just can’t seem to make up his mind about whether “family friendly” programming is a good thing.
You probably know Bozell from his position as figurehead of the HMS Parents TV Council. Bozell and his army of easily offended proselytes are largely responsible for the siege on the FCC that resulted in record indecency fines in 2004.
Bozell’s PTC regularly excoriates broadcast television (and even cable, over which the FCC has no jurisdiction) for piping filth into our homes, and presumably into our children’s minds.
One might think, then, that Bozell would be the leading champion for a child-friendly TV network. Imagine a station that dedicated itself to educational programming instead of bash-’em-up daytime talk shows. Imagine a network that encouraged kids to love to read, instead of encouraging them to beg mom or dad for the latest PlayStation hit. Imagine —
Hey, wait a second. We’ve already got that. It’s called PBS! Rejoice, Bozells of the world!!
Or maybe not.
This morning’s Today Show had Bozell showing his true colors. It’s not kids he cares about; it’s politics.
REPORTER NORAH O’DONNEL: At “Sesame Street” they are waking up to a new reality as Republicans in Congress put public broadcasting on the chopping block.
Mr. GARY KNELL: We hope that these cuts are indeed restored.
O’DONNELL: Gary Knell is the president and CEO of Sesame Workshop.
Mr. KNELL: We need a public television sector that’s going to focus on children’s needs.
O’DONNELL: Ten years ago, Republicans fought to end taxpayer funding of public broadcasting. They failed. Part of the reason, no one wanted the blame for taking Big Bird off the air. Today, amid record deficits, Congress is proposing a 25 percent cut. Conservatives continue to make the case it should be eliminated all together.
Mr. BRENT BOZELL (Director, Media Research Center): Shows like “Sesame Street,” Barney,” that type of programming, they are making hundreds of millions dollars in profits on the sales of their merchandise. They don’t need a dime of taxpayer money.
O’DONNELL: But defenders of PBS charge the drastic cutbacks are just the latest move in a larger conservative
campaign against perceived liberal bias in programming.
Representative DAVID OBEY (Democrat, Wisconsin): The Republican thought police have just decided that they will either rule public broadcasting or they will ruin it.
O’DONNELL: The fight over content stems from incidents like this recent episode of “Postcards from Buster,” where Buster the bunny visited a pair of lesbian parents.
Mr. BOZELL: PBS is supposed to be cultural programming, not political programming. And there’s far too much left-lean political programming.
O’DONNELL: PBS denies claims of bias.
Ms. PAT MITCHELL (PBS President): You know, it’s not new that we have political pressures, and our resolve to resist them is as rock solid as ever.
First off, can we call a spade a spade and be honest about what the nattering PBS naysayers mean by “left-leaning”? They mean “tolerant of opinions not necessarily condoned by evangelical Christian churches.”
Can we all agree on that?
Secondly, Bozell is pulling a fast one on us Katie-happy Today Show viewers. Notice he hid his PTC nametag and donned his Media Research Center hat? Tricky, eh? He’s hoping we won’t notice that he’s the biggest self-proclaimed family programming advocate around — and that he just advocated for the defunding of Barney and Sesame Street. Slick one, Brent!
Barney and Elmo, according to Brent Bozell, are worth more to your kids as marketing tools than they are as educational tools. He seems to miss the point that the very idea behind public funding of these programs is that they can emphasize learning over buying — without having to worry about how well the latest toy is selling.
Why is Brent Bozell not behind such solid kids’ programming — the kind my generation grew up with?
‘Cause politics is more fun. And because he’s a blatant hypocrite.
And finally, a note to the Today Show producers and their colleagues. Why do you keep calling this guy? Call me for a change! I’m much cuter.