PBS

School Inc. Under Attack: Milton Friedman, PBS, and the Quixotic Pursuit of “Balance” in Public Broadcasting

Our departed colleague Andrew Coulson spent the last years of his life producing School Inc., a wonderful and informative documentary about the possibilities of private, choice-based schooling. I highly recommend it. Amazingly, at least to me, PBS agreed to air the documentary, and in April it debuted on PBS stations around the country.

Unsurprisingly, a chorus of critics are angered that PBS would air such a program. Media Matters for America seems to call for the outright censorship of any critique of public education on public television by wondering, “why would a public broadcast channel air a documentary that is produced by a right-wing think tank and funded by ultra-conservative donors, and that presents a single point of view without meaningful critique, all the while denigrating public education?” Diane Ravitch, a prominent critic of private schools, complains that “uninformed viewers who see this very slickly produced program will learn about the glories of unregulated schooling, for-profit schools, [and] teachers selling their lessons to students on the Internet,” but “what they will not see or hear is the other side of the story.” Now a petition has been started calling for PBS to air “the other side” of the story by showing the anti-private school film Backpack Full of Cash.

I have nothing against showing the “other side” to Andrew’s series, but we need to put this debate in context. When it comes to PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the “other side” that doesn’t get heard is usually the conservative or libertarian side, and CPB has generally been deeply antagonistic to those ideas. That Ravitch and others are now the ones complaining is at least somewhat ironic.

‘We’re All In This Together’

Today POLITICO Arena asks:

Given that Planned Parenthood’s online donations have shot up over the last two months, is Mike Pence (R-Ind.) correct to say it could – and should – operate without taxpayer funds?

My response:

Given that many Americans believe that abortion is murder, of course Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider, should not be publicly funded. (And please don’t say that no taxpayer funds go for abortions: money is fungible.)

Privatizing Public Broadcasting

I appeared on WFPL, the NPR affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky, today to argue for ending the federal funding for NPR and PBS. Sort of like Daniel in the lion’s den. But since I survived, and since NPR stations are using all their government dollars to mount a vigorous radio and internet campaign to get more government dollars, I thought I would pull together some of my writings on the topic.

Rose Friedman Passes

Rose Friedman, co-author of several books with her late husband and Nobel laureate economist Milton, passed away this morning. Rose and Milton co-wrote Free to Choose the wonderful book that formed the basis of Milton’s PBS television series, as well co-writing their joint auto-biography “Two Lucky People.”

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