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Politicians are nothing if not creative and what they’re most creative about is making themselves look good. With the ‘Great Recession’ roaring along some politicians in state government decided paying UNC-TV to run programs to tell voters what a great job they’re doing spending money was a first rate idea.
You’d think the state’s ‘Golden Leaf Foundation,’ which Marc Basnight, Mike Easley and Company set up to dole out hundreds of millions of dollars in tobacco settlement money (and fund Democratic legislators’ favorite pork-barrel projects), would be happy to just go on doing good deeds. But, not so. The ‘Foundation’ felt the need to pay UNC-TV $300,000 to tell everyone about its good deeds.
And it worked. Public TV took the cash and ran glowing reports about the politicians without mentioning it was, in effect, paid for them.
I guess on UNC TV’s side of the table the logic is simple: They got the cash. The politicians got the ads. Everyone was content. Which makes common sense. But imagine the uproar if, say, Exxon paid CBS to run glowing news reports about its environmental record.
When the whole thing landed in the News and Observer UNC-TV went into defense mode, firing back it’s doing its job as “an information provider.” Anyone want to bet when UNC-TV will be airing negative information about the ‘Golden Leaf Foundation?’
In the past couple of years the politicians got their tentacles into NCSU (in the form of former Governor Easley’s wife’s $850,000 job as a ‘professor’) – until UNC President Erskine Bowles stepped in to put an end to that bit of ‘pay to play.’ Everyone from the Governor to the Attorney General has used government money to pay for TV ads on everything from the ACC Tournament to the Home and Garden Channel to make themselves look good. And now they’ve got their mitts into public television.


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6 comments on “The Star of UNC-TV

  1. AdamLove says:

    This is why the whole concept of “public” (read “government”) television is a bad idea to start with. A network that takes government money as a matter of course will always be hesitant to be too critical of its benefactors, and that’s when guys like Basnight and Easley aren’t deliberately setting out to use it to propagandize the electorate.

    Let’s toss ideas like state-run television into the dustbin of history, along with the Soviet Union, which mastered the concept so well.

  2. -1 says:

    And while we’re at it, let’s summon up the guts to finally pull the plug on public radio as well. We’ve been told for years that public radio receives “only” about 10% of its funding from the public coffers; if that’s true (it’s at least misleading) they should be able to survive just fine without it.

    It’s not that I don’t value the news and public affairs programing I get from NPR and it’s local affiliates. I have been an avid NPR listener for decades. And I can undestand how such an enterprise will inevitably be biased somewhat in favor of leftist causes, since all media tend to go that way unless they make a specific effort not to (truth is harder to come by than popularity, thus the natural slide of things is always to give in and go left).

    But I’m tired of being forced to pay for programing that sometimes borders on political propaganda for left wing causes. All of the public affairs talk shows on public radio–ALL of them–have left-wing hosts and mostly left-wing guests who espouse left-wing ideas. In the free market place of ideas, public radio represents the government’s finger on the scales in favor of the left. That’s just wrong, and to make people like me pay for it compounds the sin.

  3. -1 says:

    This political scam shows why we do not need Pravda-like institutions of public media in the US. All funding for public radio and TV needs to be axed.

  4. -1 says:

    Not only that, you pay for this crap on, your cable bill.
    I tried to get UNC canceled and was told, we are required to carry it.

  5. -1 says:

    Not only that, you pay for this crap on, your cable bill.
    I tried to get UNC canceled and was told, we are required to carry it.

  6. -1 says:

    We pay for public TV and radio in lots of hidden ways.

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