Halpern as CPB chairman may mean more politicizing for public broadcasting

The election of Cheryl Halpern as chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting “may mean more politicizing for public broadcasting,” Common Cause President Chellie Pingree said Monday.

“Given Halpern’s close ties to one political party, and her stated opinions implying that the CPB ought to be able to intervene to ensure ‘balance’ in particular programs, we do not have much faith that Halpern will set a new course for the CPB after former CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson’s rocky tenure,” Pingree said.

“Nevertheless, Common Cause will reach out to the new chairman, and hope to engage her in a more positive dialogue. We hope that we can persuade her to see that an open, transparent process for decision-making at the CPB is absolutely necessary. We also hope that we can begin a discussion about public broadcasting and its crucial mission to provide fact-based journalism and substantive investigative reporting to the American public.”

Pingree’s comments came after the CPB board of directors voted to name Halpern to succeed Tomlinson.

Celia Wexler, Common Cause’s vice president for advocacy, testified before the board during that meeting, urging more transparency for the CPB.

“Particularly in these perilous times, the public has a right to know how you reach the decisions you make to spend their money,” Wexler said. “We’ve called for process reforms because we believe that too much of the real work of the CPB gets done in private, behind closed doors. Public broadcasting is known for its fine mystery programs. The workings of the CPB should not be one of them.”

Click here to read the full text of Pingree’s statement on Halpern.

Click here to read the full text of Wexler’s testimony.

For more information on Halpern that includes a look at comments she made during her confirmation hearing and her political contributions, click here.

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