Big Brother is alive and well. I met him in Lafayette Square on a park bench, where he was eating lunch.
Big Brother works in the White House, and is charge of monitoring TV. He keeps track of how much time the stations devote to President Bush.
"What's new?" I asked.
"I think I've got control of public television. I'm going to make sure they don't put Bill Moyers and other left-wing liberals on the air ever again."
"How are you going to do it?"
"We're going to appoint all the president's men -- and women -- to key management positions. We'll make sure that PBS stations carry only 'fair and balanced' programs."
"Seems to me Fox uses the same slogan."
"They said we could have it."
I asked Big Brother how he could control the stations.
"We'll do it through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS programming. The money comes from Congress, and the Republicans don't like Bill Moyers any more than the White House does."
"How will you know when a show is too liberal?"
"We'll have ombudsmen monitoring content. They will report on what they see to the chairman of the corporation. If a station violates the 'fair and balanced' doctrine, it will be cut off from future funding."
I said, "Some people may complain that it's too political, but I think you're doing the right thing. What are your plans for 'Sesame Street'?"
"We'll probably dump it. Only kids watch it, and we would like to appeal to the 18-to-49-year-old group, even though we don't sell advertising."
"But you announce sponsors at the beginning of the show."
"We don't call them sponsors. We call them donors. Once the large companies know who controls public television, they will underwrite any program we want to put on the air."
"I imagine you'll hire more conservative commentators."
"The public is more conservative, so why shouldn't we be?"
"Poor Bill Moyers," I said.
Big Brother told me, "The president received a mandate from the people in 2004 and he has a right to put anyone he wants in charge of public broadcasting, as long as it's not political."
I said, "I didn't think he had time to get involved."
"He doesn't. That is where I come in. I'm his watchdog."
"It's not a Cabinet position, is it?"
"It's not, but it should be. Don't get me wrong. We have no intention of dictating what goes on the air. All my staff and I will do is advise the producers."
He continued, "We hope there will be more upbeat stories about anti-abortion activists and heterosexual marriages, and more religious content."
I agreed. "That is what Americans want, and if you don't give it to them, Rupert Murdoch will."
"I guess I'd better get back to the White House," he said. "I want to make sure Charlie Rose doesn't interview any liberals."
I told him: "It was nice talking to you, Big Brother. You're a great American."
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