Tuesday, July 19, 2005

“National Republican Radio”

Office of the Board of Directors, Corporation for Public Broadcasting -

“Mr. Chairman?”

“Yes, Warren.”

“Isn’t it time that we get around to changing our name from ‘Corporation for Public Broadcasting’ to ‘Corporation for Republican Broadcasting’?”

“Now, Warren, you can’t hurry these things. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s more complicated than you think. Since we’re in charge of public radio, should we change that from ‘National Public Radio’ to ‘National Republican Radio’? Or public television from ‘PBS’ to ‘RBS’? Do we change all three names at once, or make the changes one at a time?”

“Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the reference to Rome from the minutes! The media don’t need anything else that hints at an ‘American empire’ parallel.”

“Point well taken, Bruce. Edie, please delete any references to Rome from the record. Now, before we get to new business, Harold is going to present us with an update on our accomplishments so far. All set, Harold?”

“Sure thing, Ken. I want to say, first of all, that we owe you a debt of gratitude for bringing your experience as former head of Voice of America in the Reagan administration and as an editor for Reader's Digest to our situation here at CPB. That’s the kind of balanced perspective we’ve been needing for a long time.”

“Thanks very much, Harold. I do what I can, and can who I have to—that’s a joke, Edie.”

“Okay, Mr. Chairman. Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far: Bob Edwards has been dumped; we’ve given the Wall Street Journal a show of its own to showcase the corporate worldview; we’ve hired Fred Mann, a Republican consultant and commentator who worked for Dan Quayle, to keep track of the guests' political leanings on Now with Bill Moyers; and we’ve brought a White House communications officer aboard as a special advisor. Whenever we need guidance on policy issues, he’ll let us know what the White House wants. And wait until you hear the best news. We’ve just installed Patricia Harrison, former co-chair of the Republican National Committee, as the new president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting! If ever there was somebody who was proud to be riding the elephant, it’s Pat. And here she is! Let’s all give Pat a big hand!”

“Thanks you for that nice introduction, Harold. I won’t say much at this point. Just that if you think right, you’re in the right place now!”

“I’m sure we are. Good to have you aboard, Pat. Bruce, do you have those new programming ideas your committee has been working on?

“You bet, Mr. Chairman. We’re proposing that we totally wipe out the witty liberal slant on NPR. We want to replace Terry Gross and Fresh Air with Hot Air, a conservative interview show hosted by somebody like Rush Limbaugh. Whodya Know, a quiz show pairing real-life lobbyists and Congressional staffers, would take the place of Whaddya Know with Michael Feldman. We want to drop This American Life, with Ira Glass and that array of misfits, and replace it with Our American Life, modeled on articles from Guideposts magazine—heartwarming stories of Christian faith and efficacious prayer. And for good measure, we’d like to replace Tom and Ray and Car Talk with Dick and Rummy and War Talk. We’re confident we can line up a ton of corporate underwriters for that one. ”

“I like your thinking, Bruce. That kind of program lineup really reflects where we want the country to go. Don’t stop when you’re on a roll.”

“Mr. Chairman, there’s somebody down there at the end of the table who has been waving his hand for a while.”

“Oh, yes. Sorry, I didn’t see you there. Are you one of those holdovers from the old bipartisan board?”

“Yes, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to say that this board was originally designed to shield public broadcasting from partisan political influence. I’m wondering if the changes you’ve made are really faithful to our founding mission, which was to ‘provide a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise be unheard,’ to serve as ‘a forum for controversy and debate,’ and to offer programs that ‘help us see America whole, in all its diversity’?”

“Good Lord, is that supposed to be our mission? I certainly appreciate your drawing that to my attention. There’s just so much to undo here that I know I overlook things sometimes. We’ll tend to that right now. Do I hear a motion to draft a new mission statement more in line with the White House’s vision? Good. Could I have a second?”

© Tony Russell, 2005

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