Non-profit

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Website:

www.cpb.org/

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

13-2607374

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $510,471,231
Expenses: $479,456,253
Assets: $186,563,032

President and CEO:

Patricia de Stacy Harrison

President's Compensation (2017):

$482,000 [103]

In operation since 1968, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a non-profit corporation funded by the U.S. government that is the main support for the nation’s network of public television and radio stations. [1] The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) – the national public television network – was incorporated in 1969, and National Public Radio (NPR) in 1970. [2] The federal subsidy for CPB – $445 million for Fiscal Year 2018 – is approximately 15 percent of total funding for public television and radio stations, with private foundations, corporate sponsorships, and donations from audience members providing the rest. [3] [4] Since 2001, seven large private foundations with a history of giving to left-of-center advocacy (such as the Ford Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation) have collectively given more than $50 million to CPB, the PBS Foundation, and the NPR Foundation. [5]

While the architects of the CPB, most notably Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, envisioned educational and cultural programming to be the purpose of public broadcasting at the time of the agency’s creation, the left-of-center Ford Foundation, a major provider of content for public broadcasting in the years before creation of the CPB, had de-emphasized educational and cultural programming in favor of news and public affairs. [6] Bill Moyers, the stridently left-wing former communications director for President Johnson, was one of the earliest on-air personalities hired by PBS and remained a major contributor of public affairs and news content for more than four decades afterward. [7] The audience for public broadcasting reflects its news and public affairs programming: A 2014 Pew Research Center survey revealed 60 percent of the PBS audience identified as either “mostly” or “consistently” liberal, versus 15 percent identifying as some variant of “conservative,” while the NPR audience skewed 67 percent liberal and 12 percent conservative. [8]

Several major controversies have occurred at the CPB, NPR, and PBS. During the fall of 2017 through February of 2018, at least five major employees and/or on-air personalities working for NPR and PBS resigned or were terminated due to allegations of sexual harassment or other inappropriate workplace behavior. [9] Beginning in 1993, WGBH in Boston, one of the most prominent public television stations in the PBS orbit, initiated an arrangement to swap donors with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that lasted until it was exposed in 1999. [10] In 2011, an NPR fundraising executive was captured on a hidden video denouncing the right-of-center tea party movement with pejoratives such as “racist” and “xenophobic,” leading to his resignation and the resignation of the NPR president. [11]

Background

In operation since 1968, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a non-profit corporation funded by the U.S. government that is the main support for the nation’s public television and radio stations. [12] It received $445 million from U.S. taxpayers for Fiscal Year 2018. [13] According to former CPB board member Howard Husock, local public television stations affiliated with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and local radio stations affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) received $320 million of this total in grants, but the “bulk of these funds do not stay in their local communities” because “local stations use the funds to purchase national programming and for dues to NPR and PBS.” [14] PBS was incorporated in 1969, and NPR in 1970. [15]

The federal subsidy is approximately 15 percent of total funding for public broadcasting stations. The remaining funding is from sources such as private foundations, corporation sponsorship of programing, and donations from its audience. [16]

The CPB is governed by a nine-member board, with six-year terms, selected by the President of the United States. No more than five board members may be from any single political party. [17]

In 1975 President Gerald Ford signed a five-year advance appropriation for CPB. [18] So called “forward funding” – allocating budgets many years into the future for CPB – was intended to remove politics from the federal funding process and afterward remained a regular feature of CPB budgets. [19] As such, during the summer of 2019, Congress approved a $50 million increase to the 2022 CPB budget, which would increase total federal funding to $495 million. [20]

Patricia de Stacy Harrison has been CEO and president of the CPB since 2005. As of 2017, her total compensation was $482,000. She was one of 16 CPB officers and employees whose total compensation exceeded $200,000. [21]

As of 2018, PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger’s total compensation exceeded $1 million. She was one of 15 employees dividing up total compensation of more than $7.2 million, an average of more than $480,000 each. [22]

Jarl Mohn was the president and CEO of NPR as of 2019. His total compensation for 2017 was $686,000. He is one of 24 employees with total compensation in excess of $200,000. [23]

Birth of CPB as Educational Programming

The CPB was created in November 1967 when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. As envisioned by President Johnson and as stated in the law, the CPB was originally designed to enhance educational and cultural opportunities for Americans, regardless of economic or geographic boundaries. The preamble of the law states the intention of Congress to “encourage the growth and development of public radio and television broadcasting, including the use of such media for instructional, educational, and cultural purposes.” [24]

Johnson had been an advocate of government support for educational television since at least 1956 when, as a U.S. Senator from Texas, he had dinner with Leonard Marks, then the legal counsel for the National Association of Broadcasters. Marks explained to then-Sen. Johnson that television (then still an emerging media) could potentially be used to revolutionize teaching by allowing the transmission of the best lessons and instructors to a theoretically limitless number of students, regardless of where the students lived. Johnson, a former schoolteacher in rural Texas, became very excited by the idea and invited Marks to help him and other lawmakers craft legislation to launch it into practice. The result was the Educational Television Facilities Act of 1962, which provided a taxpayer appropriation of $25 million ($212 million in 2019 dollars) for educational television. [25]

Shortly after Johnson became president in 1963, the Carnegie Corporation participated in what became known as the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, with the support of Johnson. Johnson wrote a letter to the Commission stating that the nation’s “freedom depends on the communication of many ideas through many channels” and that “educational television has an important future.” When the Carnegie Commission recommended creation of the CPB, Johnson endorsed its request. In his 1967 State of the Union address he stated: “We should develop educational television into a vital public resource to enrich our homes, educate our families and to provide assistance to our classrooms.” [26]

At the end of that year, as he signed the bill, Johnson again advised that the CPB remain true to its educational mission. Otherwise, he warned that “in weak or even in irresponsible hands, [the CPB] could generate controversy without understanding; it could mislead as well as teach; it could appeal to passions rather than to reason. If public television is to fulfill our hopes, then the Corporation must be representative, it must be responsible, and it must be long on enlightened leadership.” [27]

Departure from Educational Mission

Independent public radio and television stations had existed before the CPB’s creation, and National Education Television (NET) – a project of the left-leaning Ford Foundation – had been created to fund programing. By the early 1960s, seeking larger audiences, NET/Ford had already made the decision to move away from purely educational and cultural programming toward the incorporation of news and public affairs shows. A 1964 grant of $6 million from the Ford Foundation to NET ($49.7 million in 2019 dollars) came with a stipulation that half be used for public affairs and international coverage. [28]

This programming clashed with both the vision of President Johnson to create over-the-air classrooms, and the stated intent of the legislation that would later create the CPB. But before CPB formally launched in 1968, public affairs had already become a major feature of public broadcasting.

Following Johnson’s 1967 State of the Union address in which the president advocated creation of the CPB, NET stations aired a panel discussion featuring news commentators criticizing the speech. [29] The Philadelphia Bulletin praised the effort as NET’s “first venture” into live public affairs programming. [30] NET also released Inside North Vietnam during 1967 – a controversial documentary produced with the assistance of the communist government of North Vietnam that was rejected by many local public television stations. [31]

A $10 million grant from Ford to NET in 1967 ($76.8 million in 2019 dollars) was used to launch Public Broadcasting Laboratory. Two of the first correspondents hired for Public Broadcasting Laboratory were Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, the team that would soon co-anchor PBS’s nightly news broadcast. [32]

Ford Foundation president McGeorge Bundy, previously an architect of U.S. intervention in Vietnam as national security advisor during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, defended NET’s distribution of Inside North Vietnam and other controversial public affairs programs, such as a documentary about the communist revolution in Cuba. [33]

The model for what became National Public Radio was drafted in a 1968 white paper authored by Hartford Gunn, then president of WGBH public radio in Boston. Titled “A Model for a National Public Radio System,” the essay argued for shelving the nation’s purely educational public radio stations in favor of a public affairs focused network, headquartered in Washington, DC, that provided news, analysis, criticism and commentary. [34] In 1970 Gunn became the first president of PBS. [35]

By 1971 PBS estimated 40 percent of its programming was dedicated to public affairs. This inspired a telecommunications policy official in the administration of President Richard Nixon to ask why it was necessary for taxpayers to fund news programming when commercial broadcasters had already been providing the same service. Twenty years later in 1991, New York Times television critic Walter Goodman provided an answer:  “In its role as an alternative to the commercial networks, public television is almost forced into an adversarial role. Its very existence is a rebuke to a profit-driven society.” [36]

Left-of-Center Financial Support

CPB and two related foundations connected to PBS (the PBS Foundation) and NPR (the NPR Foundation) have received a combined total of more than $50 million since 2001 from seven foundations with a history of giving to left-of-center advocacy organizations: the Annenberg Foundation ($32.7 million), Ford Foundation ($5.2 million), John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($4 million), John S. and James L. Knight Foundation ($3.5 million), Gruber Family Foundation ($2.5 million), WK Kellogg Foundation ($2.3 million), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($945,000). [37]

Audience

NPR and PBS audiences skew strongly to the political left and have higher than average incomes.

A 2014 Pew Research Center survey revealed 60 percent of the PBS audience identified as either “mostly liberal” (25 percent) or “consistently liberal” (35 percent), versus 15 percent identifying as some variant of “conservative.” The NPR audience skewed 67 percent “consistently” or “mostly” liberal, versus only 12 percent “conservative.” [38]

Howard Husock, a CPB board member until 2018, wrote in 2017 that only one of the top ten NPR affiliates (Atlanta) was located in the south or southwestern part of the country, and that the “major, ‘producing stations’ of television programming — locals that provide the lion’s share of content broadcast on smaller affiliates — are based in liberal bastions Boston, New York and Washington.” [39]

In his July 2005 testimony before an appropriations subcommittee in the U.S. Senate, David Boaz, executive vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute, quoted NPR and PBS estimates from 2003 regarding the wealth of their listeners and viewers. Compared to the typical American, NPR claimed its listeners were “152 percent more likely to have a home valued at $500,000 or more” ($697,000 in 2019 dollars). PBS claimed its viewers were 132 percent more likely to own such a home. NPR boasted its listeners were 194 percent more likely to visit France, while PBS viewers were “278 percent more likely to have spent at least $6000 on a foreign vacation in the past year” ($8,400 in 2019 dollars). [40]

“Tax-funded broadcasting is a giant income transfer upward: the middle class is taxed to pay for news and entertainment for the upper middle class,” Boaz concluded. “It’s no accident that you hear ads for Remy Martin [cognac] and “private banking services” on NPR, not for Budweiser and free checking accounts.” [41]

Left-leaning Staff and Opinion

For more than five decades after its launch in 1968 many of the most prominent personalities leading and appearing on NPR and PBS have come from the political left-of-center.

Bill Moyers

In 1971 PBS hired former Johnson White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers to host what Moyers’s website described as a “weekly news show that provided in-depth coverage of the top stories of the week and also examined a wide range of important issues of the time, including segregated schools, the role of (the new) public television in America, strip mining, rising food costs and the Vietnam War.” [42] Moyers remained a regular contributor of content for PBS for most of the next 43 years. [43]

Prior to his PBS career, Moyers had been the press secretary for Democratic President Lyndon Johnson and was responsible for approving the so-called “Daisy Ad” – a political commercial aired during the 1964 U.S. Presidential campaign that implied Republican candidate Barry Goldwater was likely to start a civilization-destroying nuclear war. [44] A 2008 New York Times report stated the advertisement was so controversial among both Democrats and Republicans that it was pulled after a single airing, and is “credited with heralding the arrival of ferociously negative political advertising in the United States.” [45]

Moyers believes his career has provided balance against a press biased to favor the right-of-center. Commenting on an upcoming show to the Associated Press in 2004, he said: “I’m going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. We have an ideological press that’s interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that’s interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don’t have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people.” [46]

“I think my peers in commercial television are talented and devoted journalists, but they’ve chosen to work in a corporate mainstream that trims their talent to fit the corporate nature of American life,” he said in the same interview. “And you do not get rewarded for telling the hard truths about America in a profit-seeking environment.” [47]

Editorial Content

The legislation creating the CPB in 1967 originally prohibited the radio and television stations it assisted from providing editorial/opinion commentaries. [48] This portion of the law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1984. [49]

Testifying before the U.S. Senate in 2005, David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute described where this had led. After stating he was “sympathetic to some of public broadcasting’s biases, such as its tilt toward gay rights, freedom of expression, and social tolerance and its deep skepticism toward the religious right,” Boaz listed numerous examples of explicitly and unbalanced left-of-center commentary from CPB-supported stations. [50]

“In Washington, I have the luxury of choosing from two NPR stations,” Boaz told the committee. “On Wednesday evening, June 29, a [left-of-center economist] Robert Reich commentary came on. I switched to the other station, which was broadcasting a [left-of-center journalist] Daniel Schorr commentary. That’s not just liberal bias, it’s a liberal roadblock.” [51]

Frank Mankiewicz

In June 2005 the CPB board elected Patricia Harrison as president of CPB. According to the authors of A History of Public Broadcasting: “Major public broadcasting groups opposed the [Harrison] appointment because Harrison had been co-chair of the Republican National Committee.” [52]

The hiring of public broadcasting executives with left-of-center affiliations has led to less concern. Frank Mankiewicz was named president of NPR in 1977. [53] Both before and after his stint running NPR, Mankiewicz worked as a Democratic political strategist, including the presidential campaigns of Robert F. Kennedy (1968), George McGovern (1972) and Gary Hart (1984). [54]

In a 2014 obituary honoring Mankiewicz, Democratic political strategist Bob Shrum credited Mankiewicz’s work on the 1972 McGovern campaign with mentoring “a generation of young progressives who would win the future long after that election was lost.” Shrum noted that he, President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, Democratic pollster Pat Caddell and “many others” worked on the 1972 race and still carried a “piece of Frank and the legacy of George McGovern.” [55]

2011 Resignation of NPR President

In March 2011, right-wing activist James O’Keefe released a video of an NPR fundraising executive, while acting in his official capacity, denouncing the right-of-center tea party movement with pejoratives such as “racist” and “xenophobic.” The fundraising official resigned the day the video became public. The next day NPR president Vivian Schiller, having lost the support of the NPR’s board of directors, also resigned over the incident. A Los Angeles Times report on the controversy stated the board’s action was taken in part because NPR hoped to show Republicans in Congress “that NPR could hold itself accountable.” [56]

1990s List Swap with Democratic National Committee

Beginning in 1993, WGBH in Boston, one of the most prominent public television stations in the PBS orbit, initiated a “list swapping” arrangement with the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The arrangement to trade the names and contact information of donors lasted until it was exposed six years later in 1999. At that time the station manager confirmed the station had also been paid “a few thousand dollars” by the DNC for some of its donor names. [57]

In July 1999, a DNC spokesperson confirmed that WGBH had initiated the agreement in November 1993 and accused Republicans of using the controversy to play “partisan games” aimed at harming public broadcasting. A WGBH station manager stated a policy against such deals, supposedly implemented in 1994, had been ignored.” [58]

Efforts to Cut Taxpayer Subsidy

Starting with the administration of President Richard Nixon, Republican Presidents and leaders in Congress have repeatedly tried to reduce or end the taxpayer subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Nixon Era

In 1969 the new administration of President Nixon initially budgeted an additional $5 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($33 million in 2019 dollars), with the objective of having the federal government funding compete with and replace the left-of-center Ford Foundation’s funding of National Education Television programming. [59]

The new president was seeking to establish the federal government, rather than private foundations, as the funding influence guiding the public broadcasting system that had recently been created by his predecessor. This failed, as NET continued to produce content President Nixon and his staffers found objectionable. The problem was compounded by other early public affairs broadcasting choices made by PBS, such as hiring left-of-center political operative Bill Moyers. [60]

Next, the Nixon administration tried to influence the composition of the CPB board and force an end to public affairs programing on PBS/NPR. At an October 1971 speech to the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, Nixon staffer Clay Whitehead criticized public broadcasting for its fixation on public affairs, accusing it of taking direction from the Ford Foundation and ignoring the educational and cultural vision suggested by the Carnegie Commission. [61] He asked his audience: “are you devoting enough of your resources to the learning needs of your in-school and in-home audiences?”[62]

In 1972 Nixon once again proposed an increase in the CPB budget for FY 1973, a plan to increase it to $45 million ($260 million in 2019 dollars). Instead, Congress passed an even higher budget and two years of funding: $65 million for FY 1973 and $90 million for FY 1974. Inflation-adjusted, the 1974 funding would have been $468 million, or more than the 2018 CPB appropriation. Nixon vetoed the bill, causing the CPB president and its chairman to resign in protest. The veto was not challenged, and the president eventually wrangled a smaller appropriation than Congress sought. [63]

Reagan Era

In his first budget plan, introduced March 1981, President Reagan proposed cutting CPB’s FY 1983 budget by $88 million. He succeeded in gaining a cut of $35 million ($90 million in 2019 dollars). [64]

Newt Gingrich

In the 1994 mid-term elections Republicans won control of the U.S. House for the first time in a generation after running on a “Contract with America” – a set of conservative policy proposals they promised to vote on if elected into a majority. Reining in the CPB was one plank in the “Contract” and in 1995 new Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich declared his intention to eliminate all funding for the CPB. [65]

The zero-out failed, but Congress voted for modest reductions to previously appropriated funding for FY 1996 and FY 1997. In August 1995, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Michigan) introduced an amendment to zero out the FY 1998 CPB appropriation of $240 million, but this proposal also failed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Congress (with both House and Senate controlled by Republicans) eventually agreed to a $250 million FY 1998 appropriation ($378 million in 2019 dollars). [66]

George W. Bush Era

Republicans in control of the U.S. House Appropriations committee approved cuts to CPB aid in 2005, but in June 2005 the full House voted to restore the funding. [67]

Testifying in favor of eliminating the CPB funding before a U.S. Senate Appropriations committee in July, David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute argued that federally funded national news networks are just as inappropriate as a federally funded newspaper. [68]

“If anything should be kept separate from government and politics, it’s the news and public affairs programming that informs Americans about government and its policies,” said Boaz. “When government brings us the news — with all the inevitable bias and spin — the government is putting its thumb on the scales of democracy. Journalists should not work for the government.” [69]

Romney 2012 Campaign

During an October 2012 U.S. Presidential debate with incumbent President Barack Obama, Republican challenger Mitt Romney responded to a question about the federal debt with a pledge that he would eliminate CPB funding if elected. After saying he “likes PBS” and “loves Big Bird,” Romney noted “I’m not gonna keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.” [70]

Three years earlier, December 2009, the Democratic Obama administration had both approved increased funding for the CPB and granted a one-time $25 million additional appropriation for “fiscal stabilization” funding. [71]

Trump Era

In each of his first three budgets President Donald Trump proposed phasing out the federal subsidy for the CPB. The first two failed (2017 and 2018) and in the summer of 2019 the Democratic-controlled Congress responded with a proposal to increase future CPB subsidies. [72]

In its 2019 budget message regarding the status of the CPB’s federal subsidy, the Trump administration noted the taxpayer support provides just 15 percent of total NPR/PBS funding and that “alternatives to PBS and NPR programming have grown substantially since CPB was first established in 1967, greatly reducing the need for publicly funded programming options.” [73]

In response, CPB CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison said: “There is no viable alternative to the federal investment to accomplish the mission that Congress assigned to public media and that the American people overwhelmingly support. Without the federal investment, the entire public media system and the unique services and value provided to rural, small town and urban communities would be devastated.” [74]

Commercial Interests

PBS and NPR are frequently characterized and promoted as “non-commercial” or “commercial free” broadcasting, implying an independence from the need for advertising and the profit-seeking motives that drive commercial television and radio. However, throughout their history PBS and NPR have participated in significant financial deals with commercial clients and broadcasters.

Corporate Advertising

In 1984 the Federal Communications Commission passed new rules allowing for “enhanced underwriting” for sponsors of public broadcasting programs. This allowed PBS and NPR to show sponsor logos (PBS), promote corporate slogans, and generally reference products and services that identify sponsors (advertisers), so long as the promotions do not interrupt the broadcast once it has begun. [75]

Sesame Workshop

Originally known as the Children’s Television Workshop and a creation of National Educational Television, Sesame Workshop is the non-profit creator of the “Sesame Street” children’s show, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and many other iconic PBS shows and characters. It has frequently been the subject of commercial ventures, both in conjunction with PBS and independently.

Licensing arrangements selling rights for likenesses of characters through toy companies such as Hasbro and Fischer-Price have brought in tens of millions per year for Sesame Workshop (more than $40 million, as of 2014). [76] The potential value of these characters in a for-profit environment led Washington Post commentator George Will to note in 2017 that Big Bird “is more a corporate conglomerate than an endangered species” and that if “”Sesame Street” programming were put up for auction, the danger would be of getting trampled by the stampede of potential bidders.” [77]

Yet, by 2014 Sesame Workshop reported an $11 million operating loss, leading to an August 2015 deal with HBO that would allow the premium cable company exclusive, first-run access, to new episodes of “Sesame Street.” Under the deal children without access to HBO see “free” rebroadcasts of the episodes nine months later on PBS. In exchange for the exclusivity, HBO pays a licensing fee covering ten percent of the production cost. [78]

Similarly, in October 2004 Sesame Workshop signed a deal with cable-tv provider Comcast and Hit Entertainment to produce the PBS Kids channel. Despite sharing the name of the “Public” Broadcasting Service, the channel was only available on pay-tv cable systems. Similarly, the PBS Kids Sprout cable channel was later named simply “Sprout,” and in 2015 Sesame Workshop sold its 15 percent stake in Sprout to for-profit entertainment giant NBCUniversal. [79]

In 1998 Sesame Workshop (then the Children’s Television Workshop) began a venture with for profit entertainment giant Viacom to create the Noggin television show for Nickelodeon – a Viacom-owned for-profit cable television station targeted at children. [80]

Spectrum Auction

Public broadcasters pocketed a combined $1.9 billion during the Federal Communication Commission’s auction of the television spectrum in 2017. Some public television stations earned large rewards by agreeing to channel sharing or swapping with commercial broadcasters, while others sold off their channel rights entirely and went off the air. [81]

Roku Streaming

In 2013 Roku, a for-profit video-on-demand streaming service, began offering downloads of popular PBS programs such as “Nova,” and “Antiques Roadshow.” [82]

Google Video

In 2006 PBS begins selling though Google Video $1.99 downloads of popular programs such as “Nova,Antiques Roadshow,” and the children’s show “Arthur.” [83]

Passport

In 2015 PBS launched Passport, a streaming service offering exclusive access to a wide range of PBS shows for “members” of Public TV – financial donors and supporters of non-commercial television. [84]

Controversies

NPR Insolvency

In spring 1983 NPR president Frank Mankiewicz was informed by his executive vice president that the non-profit radio network was $5.8 million in debt ($15 million in 2019 dollars). Mankiewicz resigned in early May amid program cuts and 84 staff layoffs aimed at shoring up the organization’s finances. In August the CPB loaned NPR $7 million ($18 million in 2019 dollars) to assist with its financial shortfall. [85]

Two years later CPB funded a study revealing 90 percent of public radio listeners do not support the stations – the study is informally nicknamed the “Cheap 90.” In September 1986, NPR repaid the last of its $7 million debt to the CPB. [86]

Fake Concentration Camp Documentary

In November 1992 PBS’s American Experience premiered The Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II, a feature-length documentary film purporting to tell the story of how African American soldiers participated in the liberation of Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. Narrated by American cinema stars Denzel Washington and Lou Gossett Jr., the film was nominated for a 1993 Academy Award in the “Best Documentary” category. [87]

But in February 1993, a story in the the New Republic revealed major factual errors with the film, and a subsequent investigation unraveled most of the story as a fabrication. PBS and its New York affiliate WNET (the station that had produced the film) pulled it from circulation shortly after the New Republic report was published. A PBS internal investigation later determined the film’s portrayal of the African Americans liberating the two camps was without factual basis. [88]

A surviving senior officer from U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton’s 6th Armored Division, the unit that liberated the Buchenwald camp, was among those who lodged protests with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for giving an Oscar nomination to The Liberators. The AMPAS did not rescind the nomination, but the film did not win the award. [89]

Sexual Harassment Allegations

Between October 2017 and February 2018 numerous NPR and PBS staffers faced allegations of sexual harassment committed over several decades.

In October 2017 NPR senior vice president Michael Oreskes resigned following a Washington Post report detailing several accusations of harassment against him that allegedly occurred in the 1990s. In February 2018 NPR’s board was informed by an outside investigator that concerns about Oreskes’s alleged behavior had been raised with executives at the network before Oreskes had been hired. [90]

In November 2017, the chief news editor at NPR left his job after an investigation found two harassment complaints made against him. A Washington Post report that month revealed multiple accusations against long-time PBS host and news commentator Charlie Rose, leading PBS to cancel Rose’s show. And Minnesota Public Radio ended its association with long-time left-of-center Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor after being presented with harassment allegations against him. [91]

In December 2017 shows hosted on PBS by Tavis Smiley were cancelled after an internal investigation uncovered allegations of misbehavior. [92]

In February 2018 NPR announced investigative reporter Daniel Zwerdling was no longer working for the network, following internal accusations of harassment made against him. [93]

Juan Williams Firing

In October 2010 NPR and Fox News analyst Juan Williams commented during an on-air Fox News discussion that it sometimes worried him when a person dressed in Muslim religious apparel shared an airplane with him. NPR fired Williams because of the comment, which it declared in conflict with its corporate ethics. In January 2011, the NPR executive who fired Williams resigned after a law firm investigating the incident submitted its report to the NPR board of directors. [94]

Shortly after the NPR firing, Fox News signed Williams to a new, 3-year, $2 million contract. [95]

“I don’t fit into their box,” said the ideologically left-of-center Williams of NPR, on another Fox News broadcast. “I’m not a predictable black liberal.” [96]

Moyers Conflict of Interest

Since the early 1990s, long-time left-wing PBS media personality Bill Moyers has also been the president of the Schumann Media Center (previously the Florence and John Schumann Foundation). Schumann is a non-profit foundation that has donated to a large number of left-of-center media and advocacy organizations, such as The Nation, Mother Jones and In These Times. [97] As of 2017, Moyers remained the president of Schumann, with a total compensation of $180,000. [98]

In two reports for the right-of-center Weekly Standard during 2002 and 2003, reporter Stephen F. Hayes revealed numerous instances of Moyers conducting favorable interviews on his PBS shows with recipients of Schumann grants, but not disclosing to PBS viewers the financial connection Moyers had with his interview subjects. Hayes alleged that Moyers was guilty of both a conflict of interest and hypocrisy, given the PBS host’s frequent criticisms of the influence of money over politics. [99] [100]

Of his February 2002 report, Hayes said: “The gist of the piece was simple: Bill Moyers flagrantly indulges in the same conflicts of interest, Washington log-rolling, and mutual back-scratching that he finds deeply objectionable in, well, everyone other than Bill Moyers.” [101]

Hayes compiled a list of 16 organizations that had received funding from Schumann and a related foundation during Moyers’ time as Schumann president – a total of more than $4.8 million for all of them, covering a period from 1991 through 2001. Each of them, over a 16-month period prior to Hayes’ 2003 report, had been featured on a Moyers’ PBS broadcasts without any disclosure of the financial connection between the host and subjects: [102]

References

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  3. Eggerton, John. “Trump Takes Aim at CPB Once Again.” BroadcastingCable. March 18, 2019. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/trump-takes-aim-at-cpb-once-again ^
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  5. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Queries conducted September 5, 2019. ^
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  8. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
  9. Everhart, Karen; Mike Janssen and Steve Behrens. “Timeline: The History of Public Broadcasting in the U.S.” Current: News for People in Public Media. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://current.org/timeline-the-history-of-public-broadcasting-in-the-u-s/ ^
  10. Stern, Christopher. “WGBH, Dems traded lists for 6 years.” Variety. July 15, 1999. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://variety.com/1999/biz/news/wgbh-dems-traded-lists-for-6-years-1117743009/ ^
  11. Oliphant, James. “NPR president’s resignation fuels foes of public broadcasting funding.” Los Angeles Times. March 10, 2011. Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-npr-resign-20110310-story.html ^
  12. “CPB Financial Information.” Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.cpb.org/aboutcpb/financials ^
  13. “CPB Operating Budget.” The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.cpb.org/aboutcpb/financials/budget/ ^
  14. Husock, Howard. “Local News Needs Federal Help.” New York Times. July 8, 2019. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/08/opinion/pbs-news-local.html ^
  15. Everhart, Karen; Mike Janssen and Steve Behrens. “Timeline: The History of Public Broadcasting in the U.S.” Current: News for People in Public Media. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://current.org/timeline-the-history-of-public-broadcasting-in-the-u-s/ ^
  16. Eggerton, John. “Trump Takes Aim at CPB Once Again.” BroadcastingCable. March 18, 2019. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/trump-takes-aim-at-cpb-once-again ^
  17. Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.cpb.org/aboutpb/act/ ^
  18. Everhart, Karen; Mike Janssen and Steve Behrens. “Timeline: The History of Public Broadcasting in the U.S.” Current: News for People in Public Media. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://current.org/timeline-the-history-of-public-broadcasting-in-the-u-s/ ^
  19. Eggerton, John. “House Approves Full Funding-Plus for Noncoms.” Broadcasting Cable. June 19, 2019. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/house-approves-full-funding-plus-for-noncoms ^
  20. Eggerton, John. “House Approves Full Funding-Plus for Noncoms.” Broadcasting Cable. June 19, 2019. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/house-approves-full-funding-plus-for-noncoms ^
  21. Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 2016 IRS Form 990 ^
  22. Public Broadcasting Service. 2017 IRS Form 990. ^
  23. National Public Radio. 2016 IRS Form 990. ^
  24. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
  25. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
  26. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
  27. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
  28. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
  29. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
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  32. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
  33. Gonzalez, Mike. “Is there any justification for continuing to ask taxpayers to fund NPR and PBS?” The Knight Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://www.knightfoundation.org/public-media-white-paper-2017-gonzalez#_ftn21 ^
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  37. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Queries conducted September 5, 2019. ^
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  49. Everhart, Karen; Mike Janssen and Steve Behrens. “Timeline: The History of Public Broadcasting in the U.S.” Current: News for People in Public Media. Accessed August 29, 2019. https://current.org/timeline-the-history-of-public-broadcasting-in-the-u-s/ ^
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  73. Eggerton, John. “Trump Takes Aim at CPB Once Again.” BroadcastingCable. March 18, 2019. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/trump-takes-aim-at-cpb-once-again ^
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  76. Siegemund-Broka, Austin. “B Is for Broke: Why ‘Sesame Street’ Is Moving to HBO.” Hollywood Reporter. August 19, 2015. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/b-is-broke-why-sesame-816105 ^
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Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Bill Moyers
    Employee
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: September - August
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 1968

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Sep Form 990 $510,471,231 $479,456,253 $186,563,032 $93,987,077 N $504,646,344 $4,347,737 $972,662 $3,621,096
    2015 Sep Form 990 $461,414,619 $472,506,141 $156,461,315 $94,900,338 N $457,856,656 $2,193,509 $585,696 $4,126,841 PDF
    2014 Sep Form 990 $463,642,558 $461,876,035 $163,929,860 $91,277,361 N $459,111,995 $3,397,752 $525,828 $4,633,072 PDF
    2013 Sep Form 990 $446,332,515 $465,128,118 $168,355,200 $97,469,224 N $440,381,040 $4,614,955 $1,026,341 $3,303,437 PDF
    2012 Sep Form 990 $473,225,376 $446,812,750 $202,026,503 $112,220,791 N $458,480,148 $12,699,316 $1,673,148 $3,125,813 PDF
    2011 Sep Form 990 $459,877,360 $496,155,869 $224,665,220 $161,499,900 N $449,919,620 $6,601,314 $2,271,346 $3,253,458 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Corporation for Public Broadcasting

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