Nov 1 1988

Anderson’s Fairy Tale

Jack Anderson

A deluge of stories commemorated the 25th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death–from Time to the National Enquirer, from Geraldo Rivera to MacNeil/Lehrer–including over 30 hours of primetime programming. The media took a second look at the possibility of a second gunman in reports ranging from the serious (PBS Nova’s probe of the scientific evidence) to the ludicrous (Time’s theory that Oswald was aiming at Connally not Kennedy). Perhaps worst of all was Jack Anderson’s American Expose: Who Murdered JFK?, a two-hour syndicated special which claimed–with flashy graphics and flimsy proof–that Fidel Castro masterminded Kennedy’s death in retaliation for CIA plots […]

Nov 1 1988

The Corporatization of Public TV

Why Labor’s Voice Is Seldom Heard on PBS

Ad for MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour

“Look Mom, Star Trek.” “Hey, I thought you said you were going to watch public TV.” “This is public TV!” “Then how come I just saw Tony the Tiger on an ad?” Mom’s wrong. First of all, that was no ad, it was “enhanced underwriting,” a plug for a corporate contributor. Second, Junior’s as likely these days to see Star Trek, Lassie and other syndicated shows on public TV as Mom is likely to catch National Geographic on a commercial channel. Despite the recycled shows and sponsors’ plugs, working people still like public TV. You can tell by subscriber donations […]

Nov 1 1988

Election Post-Mortem

It Can't Happen Here, by Robbie Conal

If the presidential campaign often resembled a circus, television was its distorting mirror—turning election realities upside down. The winning candidate carried around four names–George Herbert Walker Bush–degrees from elite schools Andover Academy and Yale, residences in many states. Yet on TV he ran as Joe Sixpack, while his opponent spent most of the campaign denying he was an elitist outside the mainstream. The winning candidate was linked to extremists who pledge allegiance to fascist ideologies. On television, this story came and went in a matter of days, while Dukakis spent months fending off charges of links to purportedly extremist ideologies–liberalism, […]