Kenneth Tomlinson resigns, just ahead of another storm

The chairman of the board for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting leaves ahead of a report on an inspector general's investigation.

Published November 4, 2005 3:40PM (EST)

As one of the president's aides faces criminal charges, as partisans prepare for an ideological war over a Supreme Court nominee, as the economy sputters and as soldiers continue to die nearly three years into a war that was supposed to have lasted weeks, the controversy over the Corporation for Public Broadcasting seems almost, well, quaint.

Here we go anyway.

Kenneth Tomlinson, the former chairman of the board for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, stepped down from the board yesterday -- just as the CPB's inspector general was preparing what looks to be a critical report on Tomlinson's activities, including his efforts to push public broadcasting hard to the right.

In a statement issued late yesterday, the CPB board announced that it has accepted Tomlinson's resignation. "The board does not believe that Mr. Tomlinson acted maliciously or with any intent to harm CPB or public broadcasting, and the board recognizes that Mr. Tomlinson strongly disputes the findings in the soon-to-be-released Inspector General's report," the statement said. "The board expresses its disappointment in the performance of former key staff whose responsibility it was to advise the board and its members. Nonetheless, both the board and Mr. Tomlinson believe it is in the best interests of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that he no longer remain on the board. The board commends Mr. Tomlinson for his legitimate efforts to achieve balance and objectivity in public broadcasting."

Those efforts -- legitimate or not -- are likely to continue despite Tomlinson's departure. The current PBS chairwoman, Cheryl Halpern, and vice chairwoman Gay Hart Gaines are both longtime Republican Party fundraisers. At her Senate confirmation hearing in 2003, Halpern joined Trent Lott in questioning the objectivity of Bill Moyers and said that an "objective, balanced code of journalistic ethics has got to prevail across the board, and there needs to be accountability."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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