The Politics of Public Television
Created by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the present system of public television is by now one of the last El Dorados of the Great Society. From relatively modest beginnings it has grown into a $1.2-billion leviathan which is virtually free of accountability to the taxpayers who shell out an annual $250 million to pay for the system while also enabling it to get matching grants from private individuals, foundations, and corporations.
Of these private benefactors, the most important historically was the Ford Foundation, especially under the leadership of McGeorge Bundy in the late 60′s and early 70′s. Having helped orchestrate the Vietnam crusade for both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Bundy became one of a large crowd of liberals to leave the sinking ship of the policy they had charted. In 1966 he found refuge in the presidency of the Ford Foundation. Upon taking this new job, Bundy told intimates that he intended to make public television one of the special objects of his attention, and he then went on to do so.
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