More Bush Cronies Get Recess Appointments

This president, who has repeatedly demonstrated his disdain for democracy and the rule of law, is again bypassing the senate to install a pair of unqualified and partisan cronies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The BBG is the agency that oversees federal media operations like Radio Free Europe and Voice of America.

On the heels of his re-nomination of the corrupt Kenneth Tomlinson to chair the Board, the president has now used his executive power to plant Warren Bell and Mark McKinnon on these boards while the senate is in recess. Neither of these appointees are suitable for service on the board and both would likely have failed to get confirmed by the senate. Allow me to introduce you to these new board members.

Warren Bell, appointed to the CPB:

As a television producer and writer, he worked on programs like “According to Jim” and “Coach.” He had a reputation as an outspoken and controversial conservative. He has had no experience managing the sort of administrative operation that would be expected of a board member and no experience in public television. What he does have is a record of provocative statements that call into question his temperment and impartiality. Here are some choice excerpts from columns he wrote for the National Review Online…

“I could reach across the aisle and hug Nancy Pelosi, and I would, except this is a new shirt, and that sort of thing leaves a stain.”

“I am thoroughly conservative in ways that strike horror into the hearts of my Hollywood colleagues. I support a woman’s right to choose what movie we should see, but not that other one. I am on the Right in every way.”

Mark McKinnon, appointed to the BBG:

As a consummate Republican insider, McKinnon was the media director for both Bush presidential campaigns. His Maverick Media collected half of the campaign funds paid to the top 50 recipients of Bush/Cheney spending – totaling over $170 million. He is also vice-chairman of Public Strategies, Inc., a Texas-based lobbying and political-image firm. Amongst other things, PSI has lobbied in support of Video News Releases that are distributed to television stations for them to run without identifying the source, which is commonly a government agency or an invested corporation. He also has no professional credentials requisite to the duties he will now assume.

While Bell’s strident partisanship is problematic, McKinnon’s appointment seems even more troubling. His career has been spent almost exclusively on getting Republicans elected to office or winning legislative plums for big business. More recently, McKinnon was hired as chief media advisor for John McCain’s aborning presidential campaign. I have been unable to ascertain if he intends to serve on the board and run McCain’s media at the same time. That would be ethically questionable in my opinion. But that hasn’t stopped them before.

These appointments will not expire until the end of the next congressional session. That’s a lot of time to inflict a lot of damage on our nation’s public media. They will also have additional opportunities to damage our international standing through partisanly manipulated broadcasts by an administration that has virtually demolished our reputation as it is.

I truly hope that I can impress upon you the potential for harm that exists, not merely from these unconscionably inappropriate appointments, but from the president’s willful avoidance of Constitutional process. Any responsible senator ought to be concerned about this usurpation of their jurisdiction. And responsible citizens should be calling their senators now to urge them to be responsible.