Will PBS Become the Protestant Broadcasting System? the experts say

My sleep was disturbed last night by a vision of PBS’ new schedule: “Not Now or Ever with Bill Moyers.” When I told the dog, he was suspicious: had I been thinking about the Mind/Body split before I went to bed?

Gadzooks, I expostulated, how did he know? In fact, I’ve been thinking about the Mind/Body split since my first grade class put on a show for our parents. We all wore the same thing—a white undershirt, black pants and a white and black Mickey Mouse mask—so I was mystified when my parents told me afterwards how good I was. How did they know which one was me? We were all costumed alike and wearing masks. I had no idea my body had given me away.

At six, my sense of myself as all head/no body may be understandable, particularly when—did I neglect to say this?—the school was in France, home of René Descartes, the French philosopher who invented the Mind/Body split when he said: “I Ain’t Got No Body.” Oh, no, wait, that was David Lee Roth, former lead singer for Van Halen. What Descartes said was: “I think therefore I am.” Which—trust me on this—amounts to the same thing.

For those lucky few who weren’t drilled in Cartesian rationality, the Mind in the Mind/Body split is the grand fromage. It’s not just Mind and Matter, it’s Mind over matter. Mind says Matter doesn’t matter. Mind dismisses the evidence of its senses, of its eyes and ears, like the jurors in the Rodney King trial or the Bush Administration’s jury-rigged insistence on WMD in Iraq. Or the “perception of a liberal bias in public broadcasting”— just in case you thought I’d forgotten my nightmare.

The man hawking the “perception of a liberal bias” is Ken Tomlinson, the Bush-appointed head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Congressional oversight committee intended to keep government out of public radio and television. That there is no actual evidence to support this claim is no worry to Tomlinson or anyone else in the Bush administration because they don’t believe in empirical data, they believe in Empire reality.

Yes, I know I already wrote about Empire reality in December’s Crackpot Theory but here it is in shorthand for those who missed it and are too lazy to click on Crackpot Archives and scroll down to December: Empirical reality is supported by evidence, it’s Science. Empire reality demands that we take it on Faith. Which brings us back to Tomlinson and the Mind/Body split.

Note that Tomlinson doesn’t say “there is a liberal bias”; there is a “perception” of one. The fact that surveys of PBS viewers and NPR listeners don’t reveal such a bias makes no never-mind to him. That would be empirical reality. Instead, he insists to the Senate that the perception requires correction. That’s why he put Paul Gigot, editorial director of the WSJ, on the air—in the name of “political balance”.

Which just goes to show how “unbalanced” Empire Reality is - “unbalanced” as in “crazy” or “insane”. It’s the Mind/Body split tipped into pathology, like anorexia, a perfect example of a perception—“I’m too fat!”—over-riding the evidence of your eyes and ears—“You weigh ninety pounds!”. That’s where therapy comes in, to try to bring the perception in line with reality. But hey, therapy’s for wimps, not for Empire builders.

Here’s how Empire builders deal with anorexia—by pandering to the perception. If the body politic were anorexic, the Empire builders would put it on a diet. No, wait—there’s no hypothetical “if” about it. That’s exactly what Tomlinson and his ideological cohorts are trying to do—starve the public of an evidence-based narrative. The “liberal” in “liberal media” means that the media promote a secular narrative. So the “political balance” Tomlinson’s talking about isn’t putting Paul Gigot on the air. “NOW with Ann Coulter” doesn’t cut it either. They’re aiming for “NOVA: how God created heaven and earth.” “NOVA: how the Rapture works.” “NOVA Scotia and the Christians who Live There”.

Hence, this month’s Crackpot Theory: The real agenda of the attacks on the “liberal media” is to replace Science with Faith as the author of our collective narrative.

You want proof? Just take my word for it.

Read the response of Professor Barbara Herman
Read the response of Earl Katz, producer
Read the response of Marliyn Levy, screenwriter

Barbara Herman, Professional Friend of the Mind and Professor of Philosophy writes, “No Cartesian, and few Frenchmen, will worry about stem cells, or gay marriage, or the Rapture. When we are trying to know and understand, the ideas we aspire to should be able to withstand the austere discipline of skeptical doubt.” Read on
Earl Katz, Executive Director of Public Interest Pictures, says, “They believe that every man is a sinner. Only God and His son Jesus Christ are perfect. Laws created by man are not valid in their eyes. Biblical law is the only true law.” Read on
Screenwriter Marilyn Levy writes, "Because the government’s “theories” seem so ill-conceived and so lacking in empirical evidence, we liberal, fact-based, godless intellectuals also overindulge in misperceptions. It’s hard to accept that fumbling, bumbling Bush and Company can out-organize and outsmart us. But they do it over and over again... Read on