February 17, 2014 |
A few days ago the Public Broadcasting Service announced it was returning a $3.5-million grant it had received from a Texas billionaire to fund a series of documentaries about the "pension peril" -- the costs to cities and states of their public employee retirement obligations. PBS took the action after a report in the tech news website PandoDaily exposed the conflict of interest underlying the original donation. That was the good news. The bad news was that PBS had accepted the funding from a self-interested billionaire in the first place.
January 7, 2014 |
Debuting Tuesday as part of the PBS series "American Experience," "The Poisoner's Handbook" offers a fascinating look back at how the chemical age changed police work. Based on Deborah Blum's 2010 book "The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York," it is divided into toxin-specific "chapters," (cyanide, arsenic, carbon monoxide, lead, radium, denatured alcohol and so on), but there is nothing particularly instructional about it. A certain sort of viewer might get ideas, of course, but should he watch to the end he will learn that poisoning is a hard crime to get away with anymore.
February 13, 2014 |
Pledge-break messages tend to be something that public television and radio audiences tolerate rather than welcome, but Steve Martin is riding to the rescue with a witty clip he shot for PBS stations to air during fundraising campaigns starting next month. “Hi, Steve Martin again,” he says at the top of the clip. “You know I'm not just asking you to make a pledge to PBS. I'm also asking my celebrity friends. Right now I'm going to text Tom Hanks, my big celebrity friend.” The response Martin reads when his cellphone dings isn't quite what stations look for, but the bit refreshingly avoids the stiff testimonials that typify these campaigns.
February 19, 2000
Re "Executive at CNN Taking Helm at PBS" (by Elizabeth Jensen, Feb. 7): I've watched KCET programming move progressively to the left, and with the naming of Pat Mitchell as president of PBS, that liberal bias appears likely to accelerate. The recent interview of President Clinton on the "NewsHour" exemplifies the liberal bias on PBS programs: a softball interview designed to provide a forum for Clinton to do what he does best--spin and lie. Obvious, tough follow-up questions were never asked.
July 24, 2005
Thanks to Robert Lloyd for a fun but well-written commentary about PBS ["PBS and Its Grand Ambitions," July 17]. I agree with his comments, especially regarding the "NewsHour." The only palpable left-leaning bias that existed on PBS was with Bill Moyers. Occasionally a leftward imbalance shows up on "Washington Week," but it isn't nearly as overbearing as it was until Mr. Moyers departed. However the issue I have with PBS isn't editorial as much as funding. I still don't understand why my tax dollars, which are taken by force of law, are needed to support entertainment television of any kind, especially when there is such a plethora of choices on the dial.
July 31, 2005
Reading Robert Lloyd's story about how public television ["PBS and Its Grand Ambitions," July 16] was created in 1967 as "a rebuke to free-market television" because the latter was depriving families of "a concert hall, a museum, a university, a forum," I was reminded of some of the schlock shows we peons of a certain age had to suffer through in front of our 19-inch screens when only three or four crassly commercial networks ruled. To name a few: Leonard Bernstein's "Young People's Concerts," Alistair Cooke's "Omnibus," "Playhouse 90," Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone," David Susskind's "Open End."