You suspect political bias in your programming. Who you gonna call?
If you’re CPB chairman Ken Tomlinson, you ring up lib-buster Frederick W. Mann, the most mysterious figure in Washington now that Deep Throat has outed himself.
But Mann’s work — which reads like a rewrite of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in Hollywood 50 years ago — offers some clues about Mann the man.
Mann is the “consultant” Tomlinson hired to monitor pubcasting for liberal slants. It seems he worked on former VP Dan Quayle‘s 1980 campaign for the Senate, then joined the National Journalism Center — which trains conservative media acolytes — and recently retired.
That’s about all the media have learned.
Paid nearly $15,000 of the CPB’s federal money, Mann watched several public affairs shows on PBS with an eye out for liberal bias, labeling guests either liberal, conservative or neutral based on their comments.
Never mind that misspellings and typos abound, and that Mann ended up faxing his results to Tomlinson from a nearby Hallmark card shop. The most revealing facts about Mann are found in analyses like his take on actor Mark Wahlberg‘s appearance on “The Tavis Smiley Show”:
“Regarding the movie ‘Passion of Christ,’ Wahlberg said it was a good thing, and commended Mel Gibson for standing up for what he believed in.” For this, the former juvenile delinquent who played a porn star in “Boogie Nights” is labeled a conservative.
Despite having fought in two wars, thesp James Garner is tagged a liberal for saying war won’t work in the Middle East. Comments about personal finance earn former Nixon speech writer and gameshow host Ben Stein a neutral. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx draws an unexplained label of “X” for his comments about Ray Charles, as does pansexual rocker Prince for thoughts about music.
Henry Rollins, former lead singer of a nihilistic punk band, is labeled conservative for saying even people who disagree with the war in Iraq should support the troops, while father-and-son thesps Melvin and Mario Van Peebles don’t get labeled at all.
Question for Mr. Mann: Are you now or have you ever been a scientific observer?