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Alan Chartock - Blog
Alan Chartock shares his thoughts for today....
Monday, June 20, 2005

Save public radio from government censors
New Yorkers who listen to public radio may be in real trouble. To begin with, let me just state that I am the President and CEO of a fourteen facility radio network, Northeast Public Radio, that covers a large part of New York State. My colleague, Laura Walker, runs WNYC in New York City. Other areas of the state have others in charge of their local public broadcasting facility. All these stations have three means of support. Most of the money comes from the folks who listen. A second big chunk of money comes from underwriters and foundations - businesses and organizations that choose to support presentation of particular programs - and a much smaller percentage of public radio money comes from the federal and state governments. The state gives very little while the feds give a fairly sizable chunk of money. 
We all know the facts. The neocon Republicans have captured the government, all four branches of it: the Presidency, Senate, House and the Supreme Court. The name of the game for them is to control the political messages that potential voters receive. We’ve watched their corporate pals buy up most of the commercial broadcasters, leaving very few independently owned operations. That’s why commercial radio has consolidated and has, in my opinion, gotten what it deserves - a declining listenership. Anyone who listens to AM radio hears fat mouths like Limbaugh and O’Reilly and their ilk mouthing the Republican Washington line. 
But as commercial radio listenership has dwindled, public radio listening has been on the rise. This is a dilemma for the Karl Roves of the world whose jobs involve keeping George Bush and his minions in power. If people are eschewing the Republican line on commercial radio and are listening to public radio with its far more balanced and fair- minded approach, the obvious answer is to try to take over public radio or at least to scare the people who run these stations into a state of submission and fear. Sadly, there are some signs that they have succeeded. It is important to remember that many of these stations around the country are owned and operated by colleges and universities and the last thing those folks want is the government coming down on their cases. Some stations, and I think National Public Radio itself, are toning down their most important and hard-hitting stories because, I think, of the fear of losing the big bucks. 
Public radio stations have long been giving voice to all sides of the story. Smart people listen to public radio and Rove and his people know that. So, the Rovians attack. For example, they have taken the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was designed by people like Bill Moyers to keep government interference away from public broadcasters and made it into what is looking more and more like a censoring organization by appointing so-called Ombudsmen. What they really have done is to appoint potential government censors like the kind you see in China and Russia. 
The New York Times reported that the CPB’s new chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, actually went so far as to tell a group of public television executives that they should do more to reflect “the Republican mandate.” When outed for his outrageous words, he said what amounted to, “Just kidding.” He also hired a White House consultant to do a political content analysis of Bill Moyers’ PBS program, “Now.” To understand how this threatens our First Amendment rights, think about the government using tax payer money to check out the content of stories in the New York Times or any other newspaper. To his credit, Moyers fought back. 
Now a key committee in the House of Representatives has voted to defund public broadcasting and people are asking why we just don’t give up the money. We may just have to do that but the whole idea is infuriating. We are talking about taxpayer money, not Republican money. How dare these people act like it is theirs. As for me, I intend to fight them in the courts and maybe on the beaches and then, if we must, we will go to the listeners and say, “You just have to do more if you want to save public radio.” 
More and more, these folks, including the President and Karl Rove, are acting as if they don’t give a damn about democracy and the First Amendment. They are much more concerned with winning. Shame on them. I wonder what they are going to say when they meet Saint Peter at the Gate. My bet is that they’ll have a hard time getting beyond the patio.
Alan Chartock shares his thoughts for today....

Are sex stories the hope of the future?
I, Publius
By Alan Chartock 

"Colonial President, Executive Director Reveal Romance"
OK, here's the deal. Chartock's Law No. 100 stipulates: "Sex is a function of opportunity." Law No. 101 reads: "When the masses have serious questions of public policy before them, offer them sexual distraction. They'll fall for it every time."
When I saw a Michael Jackson headline in the New York Times that rivaled the announcement of the end of World War II, I knew once and for all that sex stories were the hope of the future for print journalists. We all know that young people do not read newspapers, and that it is the job of the publishers and editors to get them to. They all hire consultants, and the consultants tell them what works. If the editor and the publisher don't go along, trust me, the corporate people who own these newspapers will find others who will.

When Bill Clinton got caught doing the dirty in the Oval Office, there was hell to pay. Karl Marx is often quoted as having said that religion is the opiate of the masses. Not anymore -- now it's sex. Some people escape. Others are hung out to dry and twist in the wind. For example, if Chartock's Law No. 100 is correct, and sex is indeed a function of opportunity, you had better believe that sex between consenting workplace adults will happen. There is enough survey research on this matter to make that assessment incontrovertible. We have seen the leaders of many major corporations lose their jobs over exposed secret liaisons.

"Because I could" is the reason Clinton gave for entering into his affair with Monica Lewinsky. He wasn't alone. There are millions of people in such relationships right now. They are there because their marriages leave something to be desired. They are there because being there adds to their lives.

It's like income tax evasion. I am scared to death that if I were to do anything wrong, I would be the one guy in a million who got caught, despite the fact that I believe I ought to pay my share of our taxes. We all know that very few tax cheats get caught. Nevertheless, the law allows those who are at the top of the government to make decisions about who becomes a target. We do know that President Nixon ordered the IRS to go after specific political enemies. The same thing is potentially true here.

Many of us know folks right here in our region who have had affairs. Some of us know people in these beautiful hills who have met, fallen in love, had sex and even married. The Libertarians and the liberals seem to agree that people should be free to lead their lives.

I know what you're thinking. I've read my mail. "What about the people who lose out on promotions because the boss is sleeping with his secretary?" "What about the companies that are paying for the boss's expensive lunches and dinners with his paramour?"

As for me, I would rather see people left alone. If, like me, you are lucky to be married to a wonderful woman, then you are fortunate. Not everyone is, and I am not about to pass judgment on the behavior of others.

The Eagle recently ran a spate of stories on the Colonial Theatre's board president and its executive director falling in love and moving in together. Hey, that's the way it goes.

It happens all the time at the university. I once had to listen to a sociologist tell my department that "any romantic relationship between two people of different rank" was verboten and could lead to abuses. Yeah? When I asked her whether that meant an assistant professor couldn't date an associate professor, she allowed as how that would be a no-no. I then told her that I thought this was the French Revolution and she was Madame Defarge.

Her boss called me up and asked me if I had said it. "Yes, indeed," I replied. We had words, and I invited her to appear on my Sunday morning television show. I told her that I would be fascinated to see if the viewers agreed with her. She accepted, only to call me back and tell me her superiors wouldn't permit it.

This kind of thing could lead to a McCarthy-like witch hunt. Do you think a situation like this has never happened in the newspaper business? How about at a major Berkshire cultural institution on some mountain? Do you remember Kripalu? Sometimes lovers beat the odds, other times they do not. As far as I'm concerned, it's all hooey, and it's dangerous. Marriages that might otherwise have survived will not because of the media trying to advance itself. I find the whole thing repulsive, and I wish that all of us who work in the communications industry would just cut it out.


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