June 14, 2005
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
401 9th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004-2129
Dear Board Members,
I was troubled to read in The Washington Post that former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman Patricia de Stacy Harrison is the “leading candidate” to be the next president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a position to which the CPB board of directors would appoint her.
As you know, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was established to shield American public broadcasting from political pressure. While Ms. Harrison has an impressive resume as a Republican activist and political appointee within the Bush administration, she lacks any experience in public broadcasting or independent journalism. I find it implausible that CPB chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson and your board cannot find a leading candidate who has the kind of extensive, relevant experience the position demands.
More troubling, by appointing a Republican activist to manage an organization designed to protect public broadcasting from political pressure, the board would be signaling to those who have treasured public broadcasting as a bastion of fairness and balance that it is now vulnerable to political manipulation. From Rush Limbaugh to the Fox News Channel, there is no shortage of conservative media in the United States. If CPB is committed to continuing to provide a nonpartisan alternative to such outlets, turning over the reins to a former co-chairwoman of the Republican Party is on odd way to accomplish that goal.
I urge you to find another candidate to lead CPB, hopefully one with more experience in public broadcasting than in partisan politics.