Prexy choice feeds furor

One member of Congress calls for investigation

The voices screaming for Corp. for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson‘s head reached fever pitch late last week.

Why? The CPB board appointed as its new prexy-chief his friend Patricia Harrison — an outspoken Republican with no broadcasting experience.

One member of Congress called for an investigation into the selection process, saying it “smells to high heaven of secrecy and partisanship.”

Democrats claim the appointment only confirms what they’ve been saying — that Tomlinson, who thinks pubcasting suffers from a liberal bias, should go.

Moreover, the CPB inspector general is looking into possible malfeasance by Tomlinson in hiring lobbyists and a consultant without board approval.

Should he be worried about his job?

Not yet.

“He’s secure until the general public starts to believe that he’s being unfair,” says James Gattuso, a research fellow in regulatory policy for the conservative Heritage Institute.

Gattuso says most people — meaning the majority that voted Republican in the last election — think Tomlinson is rightly trying to correct an imbalance in pubcasting.

Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the liberal Brookings Institution, agrees –though the inspector general’s investigation could pose a problem.

“He might be a bit more vulnerable because of charges that he misinformed — i.e., lied — to Congress about arrangements he made with consultants to monitor the political bias of public television,” Mann says.

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