Mitchell to Leave PBS, Bush Administration Offers Network Little Help

Working for PBS is the nether world of television; it's a sort of lesser purgatory with no chance of getting to heaven and a strong chance of slipping back into hell.

Pat Mitchell, chief executive of PBS, working hard between the devils and angels that she answers to - Bush Administration conservatives and liberal producers -- announced yesterday she'll not renew for a third three-year term. She'll be leaving as controversy surrounds her.

Under pressure from conservatives and the Bush Administration for a show called, "Postcards From Buster," which featured lesbian parents, Mitchell pulled the show, which promptly angered liberals.

The liberal-leaning Mitchell tried to appease conservatives, adding "Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered" and a new public affairs program hosted by Paul Gigot, a conservative editor of The Wall Street Journal.



But that just angered liberals.

She then added Bill Moyers, hosting a liberal talk news show called "Now." That angered conservatives.

Sounds like a great job -- with, no doubt, highly used medical, dental, and psychoanalytical health benefits.

Longtime PBS producer Rory O'Connor said Mitchell came in, changed a lot of shows, and promptly witnessed rating tailspins. (To be fair, over the course of five years, most all established TV network shows have witnessed sizable drops in ratings.)

The Bush Administration pushed PBS to be more of a free-market network, a self-funded organization where the government could eliminate the $60 million a year it gives directly to PBS and push it to become a private commercial enterprise - possibly in adding more sponsorship elements.

PBS attempted to do move in that direction, with increased advertising sales, a partnership with Comcast, another with children programming producer HIT and Sesame Street for a new kids network, and a deal with Google.

The Bush Administration has been of no help. Anyone taking the top PBS job should immediately start writing a script focusing on the business of TV martyrdom.

I'm calling Michael Moore right now.

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