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November 17, 2018

YOU’RE (NOT) WATCHING PBS:

So conservatives never overthrew public broadcasting. NPR thrives. But PBS withered away. Oh, it still exists, and when a piece of luck like “Downton Abbey” comes its way, it can puff itself back up…to one twentieth the audience, and influence, it had a quarter century ago. PBS is now little more than America’s Official TV Network of White Guilt. To be fair, it also features Benny Goodman at pledge drive, Jewish guys in major league baseball history, and British drama, for which I thank them.

Go ahead, oppose them. Just don’t feed their delusions of grandeur. Public broadcasting was born in a 1950s world of limited information, limited bandwidth, and narrow choices. It dreamed of a world where you could be in Tupelo, Utica or Provo and still be able to see “Macbeth” on TV. In that world it had a real purpose. Today, you could be in Tupelo’s outer fringes and see virtually any version of Shakespeare ever filmed, on your phone, at any time of the day or night. PBS struggles with that new world. Wouldn’t it be wiser for them to declare victory over cultural deprivation, mission accomplished!–and then fold their tents for good?

Indeed. Even Sesame Street is now a Time-Warner-CNN-HBO production.