In an interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson denied ever discussing the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) -- which Tomlinson has publicly criticized for airing programming that he says shows a liberal bias -- with Bush administration officials, a statement O'Reilly did not challenge. In fact, The New York Times reported that as CPB chairman, Tomlinson has previously worked with White House officials, including senior presidential adviser Karl Rove, on issues related to public broadcasting. Moreover, Tomlinson hired the director of the White House Office of Global Communications “on the recommendation of administration officials,” according to the Times.
On the May 12 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly asked Tomlinson, “Now, you said that you have never had any conversations with any Bush administration officials about PBS? Is that true?” Tomlinson replied, “That's true.”
In fact, according to a May 2 Times article, Tomlinson had worked with White House officials on “public broadcasting issues”:
Last year he enlisted the presidential adviser Karl Rove to help kill a legislative proposal that would change the composition of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's board by requiring the president to fill about half the seats with people who had experience in local radio and television. The proposal was dropped after Mr. Rove and the White House criticized it.
Tomlinson was elected chairman of the CPB board of directors in September 2003.
“On the recommendation of administration officials,” Tomlinson hired Mary Catherine Andrews, director of the White House's Office of Global Communications, as a senior staff member in late March, according to the Times. She helped set up the CPB's new ombudsman's office while she was still working at the White House, though she says that she “was careful not to work on this project during office hours during my last days at the White House,” the Times reported.
Media Matters for America previously noted the Times' omission of key facts about the two new CPB ombudsmen: One of the two, William Schulz, is an avowed conservative with close ties to Tomlinson, and the other, Ken Bode, is a former journalist and a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute who last year endorsed Indiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels.
O'Reilly also asked Tomlinson whether he was “firing any Democrats” at CPB; Tomlinson replied, “No,” adding: “No witch hunts in there at all. That's why I'm so surprised about this.” But according to an April 22 Washington Post article, “in recent months ... at least three other senior CPB officials” with “Democratic affiliations” departed or were dismissed following the appointment of Ken Ferree, a Republican who had been a top adviser to former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell, as CPB chief executive.
At the conclusion of his interview, Tomlinson thanked O'Reilly and stated: “We love your show.”
Though a “CPB representative” reportedly told The Washington Post in advance of a May 13 article that “Tomlinson was not giving media interviews,” Tomlinson seems to be doing just that, and not just on Fox News. He is also scheduled to appear on the May 13 edition of PBS' Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered.