The top PBS station in New York is marketing itself to potential new donors in the most natural way: by snobbishly mocking commercial TV as “a sea of madness.” Sadly, commercial TV stations probably won’t fight back by mocking prissy British period dramas like “Downton Abbey.” (I might suggest a mop-topped Muppet that looks like Ken Burns that constantly boasts of his own importance as a national story-teller.)
The New York Times reports WNET is undertaking a subway advertising and Twitter campaign mocking fake shows that sound like the “reality” shows currently airing on The History Channel or TLC, channels that conservatives have argued were airing programming similar to PBS fare:
During a discussion of the new film Lincoln on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, documentary film maker Ken Burns ranted about one of the supposed lessons he took away from the movie: "Race is always there in America....Do you think we'd have a secession movement in Texas and the other places, faddish secession movement, if this president wasn't African-American? Do you think the vitriol that came out of some elements of the Tea Party would have been at the same level had this President not been Africa-American?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Tuesday, USA Today topped their front page with an "Essay by Ken Burns" headlined "National parks feed the American soul." Naturally, this liberal PBS filmmaker/sermonizer began by celebrating Barack Obama, which the newspaper put in large type.
"Just before our documentary film series on the history of our national parks was first broadcast on PBS in the fall of 2009, I had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to share scenes from the film with President Obama in a small screening room at the White House. It was a great honor." He had to confess his wife and kids were "blurred into the background" as he shared his work with this special president:
If Ken Burns ever decides to stop making documentaries, he could always go into comedy . . .On today's Morning Joe, Burns claimed he was non-political, despite repeatedly attempting to draw parallels between Prohibition, the subject of his current film, and themes in current conservatism, particularly immigration. At the same time, Burns ignored the modern-day prohibitionist sitting right across the table from him--Mika Brzezinski--the neo-Carrie Nation who would ban everything from cigarettes to soft drinks, transfats to fast food. Video after the jump.
"I just don't think they have fully thought through what they're doing," Burns said of House Republicans who want to eliminate or significantly reduce funding for the arts, humanities and public media. Such cuts would devastate film producers, he said.
Liberal filmmaker Ken Burns on Sunday highlighted conservative William F. Buckley as an example of the diversity of PBS. He also claimed Ronald Reagan as a supporter of public financing public television.
Writing in the Washington Post, the director lobbied, "[PBS] contributes to cradle-to-grave continuing education services that are particularly appreciated in rural states - belying the canard that this is programming for the rich and bicoastal. It also gave William F. Buckley a home for 30 years." [Emphasis added.]
Of course, Buckley ended his run on Frontline in 1999, 12 years ago. If Burns has to go back that far for a strong conservative presence, perhaps this isn't the strongest argument.
Fresh on the heels of slamming Sarah Palin, film documentarian Ken Burns is now upset at John McCain. Why? Because McCain is being too aggressive in waging his campaign and not politely allowing Obama to ride over him to victory in November. Burns begins his New Hampshire Union Leader Op-Ed piece moaning that this is not the John McCain he used to know, the one who would happily allow Obama to defeat him:
WHAT HAPPENED to John McCain? What happened to the man so many of us in New Hampshire have admired and respected for so long? The fierce bipartisan warrior, the straight talker, the maverick whose ideas nearly everyone found some common ground with now seems missing in action. He seems to have betrayed the very attributes that originally commended him to us and earned our earlier trust and support.
From Reuters and the Hollywood Reporter comes news that PBS filmmaker Ken Burns used a New York panel discussion preceding the news and documentary Emmy Awards as a forum to denounce the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, as proof the selection process devolved "into a high school popularity contest and an American Idol competition" and insisted "in the whole history of the republic there has been no one with as thin a credent
PBS demonstrated it clearly isn’t afraid to fly the flag of liberalism when it allowed one of its multi-millionaire stars, filmmaker Ken Burns, to not only make a syrupy socialist tribute to Ted Kennedy, but then to appear late Monday night on MSNBC to add his own personal tribute to the star of his film: "He was talking not just about the audacity but the possibility of hope. And that’s a wonderful, wonderful message to be carrying on. He's so committed to health care. He’s so committed to national service. He's committed to an honorable end to this horrific war." He mentioned Teddy’s "martyred brothers," and added: "we endow them with the immortality that they so clearly deserve. And yet here is the youngest brother, the little engine that could that keeps going every single day, adding something to our agenda, adding something to this country."
About ten minutes before midnight, the tributes to this "amazing, amazing man" began. MRC's Colleen Raezler took it down:
In the October 1 issue of Time magazine, TV critic James Poniewozik interviewed PBS star Ken Burns -- star filmmaker, to be sure, but still a star, someone they rush out to Congress at PBS funding time -- and he bashed the Bush administration along a traditional liberal line on the subject of his new World War II documentary. Comparing the sacrifices of that era to now, Poniewozik wrote "Today the government is loath to lay out a price, or ask one." Added Burns:
"People yearn for the memory of shared sacrifice that the Second World War represents," Burns says. "Now we're all free agents. We don't give up nothin'. We were asked after 9/11 to go shopping. It was sort of 'Don't worry your pretty little head about it.'"