Former Corporation for Public Broadcasting board Chairman and GOP operative Ken Tomlinson resigned from the CPB board today after delivery of an investigation by CPB Inspector Kenneth Kontz. The report has not yet been made public.
Tomlinson was under investigation for hiring outside consultants to monitor perceived liberal bias on PBS programs like NOW with Bill Moyers and other shows. He also enlisted a White House staffer to write rules for two new ombudsmen, one a former Reader’s Digest colleague of Tomlinson’s.
The investigation of whether Tomlinson violated the Public Broadcasting Act followed a request by Reps. David Obey (D-Wis) and John Dingell (D-Mich) that was prompted by over one million irate petitions and phone calls from the public several months ago.
When Tomlinson’s term as Chairman was up, he moved to a regular board position, named Cheryl Halpern, a major GOP donor, as chairman, and tapped Gay Hart Gaines, also a prominent Republican, as vice chair. In addition, amid howls of protest, he earlier named Patricia Harrison, former Republican National Committee co-chair, as CPB’s president.
Harrison promptly hired several GOP operatives to senior staff positions, all of whom previously worked with Harrison at the State Department when she served as assistant secretary for educational and cultural affairs and acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs. They followed close behind when she joined the CPB:
Tim Isgitt, now CPB's vice president for government affairs, was a driving force behind a campaign to place pro-American propaganda in Arabic media worldwide to win Arab support for the war on terror. Under Isgitt's direction, the State Department produced Arabic-language television and radio ads that were widely ridiculed for attempting to package U.S. policy as a commercial "brand."
Mike Levy, the new CPB vice president of communications, served as Harrison's chief of staff when she headed the RNC. At the State Department, Levy developed "pro-active media strategies" to increase support for U.S. counter-narcotics initiatives in more than 100 countries as part of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. He also previously worked as special assistant to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and as press secretary to several GOP congressional campaigns.
Helen Mobley, hired as CPB's senior director of corporate communications and planning, worked closely with Harrison to manage the State Department's efforts to bring Afghan women to America to showcase new freedoms after the downfall of the Taliban regime. Mobley also was deputy director of scheduling during George W. Bush's first presidential run and has been active in GOPUSA.com, Bobby Eberle's Texas-based campaign "to spread the conservative message throughout America."
Public interest groups are now pushing to make the CPB report public and investigate partisan meddling by CPB's new leadership.