The long-awaited report by the Inspector General of the Corporation For Public Broadcasting (CPB) was released yesterday and it confirms the unethical and illegal behavior of the CPB’s former chairman. Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who sheepishly resigned from the board in advance of the report’s release, was found to have violated the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. This is one of those laws that have no criminal penalties attached to it. Very useful as a deterrant and for lawmakers who don’t want to actually hold their freinds accountable for anything.
But the violation, and the ethical lapses, are clearly spelled out by the IG. Tomlinson improperly hired partisan consultants to monitor PBS programming. The CPB was formed to be a shield to prevent political hackery from infecting public broadcasting. Obviously Tomlinson ignored that prohibition, but the contract itself violated internal rules and was not authorized through standard procedures. He even lied to Congress by claiming that the contract was signed by the then-CPB president, Kathleen Cox. As it turns out, it was Tomlinson’s signature on the contract which was dated five months before Ms. Cox became president.
The release of this report does not, however, wrap up the parade of mideeds. During Tomlinson’s tenure, he hand-picked the current CPB president, Patricia S. Harrison. She is a former chair of the Republican National Committee. The report shows that “political tests” were used as a major factor in her hiring. This matter cannot be considered to be resolved until she resigns and a legally recruited and approved president is installed in her place. How can anyone consider her to be a legitimate manager when the process used to select her was ruled illegal and/or unethical? There is a lot of cleaning up to do at the CPB after Tomlinson’s disgraceful mis-leadership. And it has to start with Harrison’s resignation.