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WSJ Defends Tomlinson

CPB won't have the Wall Street Journal to kick around any more.

In an editorial Thursday that took up almost half a page, the paper said it had decided not to produce a third season of The Journal Editorial Report, the championing of which got former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson in such hot water.

The paper used the rest of the space defending the creation of the show and Tomlinson.

An investigation by CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz had concluded that Tomlinson had taken too active a roll in the programming, in violation of rules preventing the CPB from interfering in content.

The president gets to pick a majority of members of the board, but the board itself is not supposed to influence programming beyond insuring balance on controversial issues, as the fairness doctrine used to require of commercial broadcasting.

The paper countered Konz's findings, saying that Tomlinson had "zero influence over the show's format or content," and that Konz, who the paper called the "Inspector General Clouseau" of the proceedings, had "done his politicized duty by straffing Tomlinson with drive-by accusations."

Still, the Journal also made available e-mails from Tomlinson to WSJ Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot (be careful what e-mails you send editorial page editors, by the way) in which Tomlinson said: "I'm trying to pressure Pat Mitchell to produce a real conservative counterpoint to [Bill] Moyers."

"I have an informal agreement with [Mitchell's] chairman to have from our side an absolute duplication of what Moyers is doing," Tomlinson wrote the Journal's Paul Gigot about doing the show.

"This could be fun. But watch Pat.She is slick as grease[sic] lightning."

But in a July Senate hearing on his involvement in the show, Tomlinson seemed to suggest to Senate Commerce ranking minority member Daniel Inouye that he was not involved in securing such an agreement.

"The decision to add the Paul Gigot and Wall Street Journal editorial report was one that involved a lot of people at both PBS and CPB," he told Inouye, "It was a decision that I saw no opposition to, and I was not directly involved in negotiating any contracts involving it."

The Journal called Tomlinson's pushing the show "boasts"from someone who lacked the power to put in on the air, saying: "We are supposed to believe that the vast bureacracy that is PBS, with all of its inbred policies and interests, was somehow cowed by a single, conservative board member who lacked any real management power. Any regular PBS viewer knows the opposite is true."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.