May 10, 2011

Political ambitions, inconsistencies behind Gov. McDonnell's line-item veto

When Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell used his line-item veto to slash another $424,000 in state subsidies for public broadcasting, it played well to his Republican conservative base, but his decision to target public radio and television stations was fueled more by political ambitions than fiscal responsibility, according to newspaper columnists who weighed in on the last minute, irrevocable cut.

McDonnell's supporters were "thrilled by the veto," writes Peter Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, but they probably don't recognize the inconsistencies in McDonnell's stances on various culture war issues. He pointed to McDonnell's endorsement of a $4.6 million package of tax breaks for a Stephen Spielberg movie about Abraham Lincoln that will be filmed in Virginia. Spielberg is "a symbol of the deep-pocketed, film-colony strain of Democratic liberalism that some conservatives say permeates public broadcasting," Schapiro wrote. Not only that, the moviemaker contributed more than $125,000 to Democratic candidates last year.

Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey ridiculed McDonnell for the veto, comparing him to a screeching peacock with outspread tail feathers. "This is what passes for political machismo in national GOP politics these days," Casey wrote. "It's a ploy to get McDonnell maximum notice during the presidential primary season that begins in earnest later this year....McDonnell's action is wrong. It shortchanges everybody and rewards nobody. Except McDonnell -- it could buy him a slot on the Republican presidential ticket."

Op-ed writers for the Times-Dispatch described McDonnell's rationale for cutting deeper into pubcasting's state aid as sound and compelling, but wrote that governor undercut his credibility by shelling out so much corporate welfare in the new budget. Pointing the Spielberg film, they asked: "Shouldn't movies, like radio shows, also be left to the private sector?"

Create's "Avec Eric" wins James Beard Award

Avec Eric on the Create channel is a 2011 James Beard Award winner for on-location television programs. Host Eric Ripert congratulated his team via Twitter from Le Bernardin in New York.

Genachowski, Minow discuss "Vast Wasteland" speech

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and former FCC Chair Newt Minow met to discuss the state of the media on Monday (May 9) in Washington, D.C., to mark the 50th anniversary of Minow's famous "Vast Wasteland" speech.

Broadcasting & Cable reports that Minow said that the two words he wished had been remembered from that speech were "public interest." Genachowski said the speech is still relevant today because it is "a speech for all time," primarily about the power of technology and communications to connect and empower people.

The event, at the National Press Club, was sponsored by George Washington University's Global Media Institute.

Help Youth Radio investigative team pick up its Peabody Award

Youth Radio won a Peabody last month for its series on child sex trafficking, and its investigative team would like to show up to claim the honor. The judges called it "a wide-ranging expose of America’s child-sex trade made especially powerful by first-person accounts by teen victims."

But the young journos need $20,000 to travel to the awards presentation in New York. They're so close — just $5,000 more. And the May 23 ceremony is quickly approaching. Want to help? Click here. And here's a May 1999 story from Current's archives on Youth Radio's early days as a Berkeley, Calif.-based media training program for at-risk teenagers.