The PJ Tatler

How Did Obama's Stimulus End Up Paying a Rich Hollywood Director to Produce a Web Video Show?

Drudge links a provocative Washington Times headline today, “Online soap cleans up with stimulus broadband cash.” Reading the story, we learn that Hollywood director Robert Townsend got nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to produce a web video series entitled “Diary of a Single Mom.” The series is a feature on a website called pic.tv, the “pic” being an acronym for “Public Internet Channel.” That implies a PBS-like status. Google “pic.tv” and you’ll see that Townsend’s “Diary” series is pic.tv’s marquee offering.

Townsend isn’t exactly a fringe, struggling artist. It’s probably fair to say that he’s among the 1%.

But the taxpayer money he received to produce “Diary” is just a tiny portion of the money that the various web sites the show lives on got, also in taxpayer money.

On pic.tv’s “About” page, we learn that while it claims to be a “network of free websites with videos and tools to help you live a better life,” it’s a production of something called One Economy. Follow the links on One Economy to discover, as the Washington Times noted, that One Economy is also feeding at the stimulus trough.

In 2010, One Economy received one of the largest federal grants through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand affordable access, digital literacy training and online tools and resources to low-income communities across the United States.

They’re not kidding; through the stimulus, One Economy received a nice chunk of your change. Townsend’s “Diary” money came from One Economy’s stimulus grant.

According to grant reports, One Economy so far has invoiced the government $18.9 million of the $28.5 million awarded under the grant, with 142.47 jobs created. The jobs include field supervisors, sales representatives and program managers, as well as numerous production-related positions, such as producers, cast members, casting director and an executive assistant to Mr. Townsend.

Aren’t you glad to be paying for an executive assistant to a Hollywood director who can surely pay for one out of his own ample pockets?

This story gets even better. Remember, the money for all this came from the stimulus bill. That bill was supposed to create jobs. But that’s not exactly how One Economy sees their grant money. From the Times story:

Officials at One Economy said the grant wasn’t primarily about creating jobs. Instead, they said, the primary purpose was to increase broadband access and adoption, as well as to increase the number of people interacting with content “local and relevant to their lives.”

Let’s tease the logic out of the statement a bit. One Economy wanted to increase broadband access, and then fund the content people would find “local and relevant to their lives.” That’s not so much a stimulus as a never-ending government gravy train. The content they’re talking about, by the way, isn’t limited to Robert Townsend’s online soap guest starring Billy Dee Williams. If you poke around the Pic.tv and One Economy network of “free web sites” that you paid for, you’ll find helpful links promoting…wait for it…ObamaCare.

Here’s how that works. Let’s go back to pic.tv’s About page, where we learn about some of the other “free” web sites.

On The Beehive, you can learn about taking control of your diabetes, managing your money, being a single mother, saving money by recycling, and so much more.

Let’s take a look at The Beehive, links to which are all over the pic.tv site. There’s a health care link up top at Beehive, let’s click on it. Click on the “Health Care Law: What Does It Mean For Me Today?” link to find what amounts to an online sales brochure for ObamaCare. And the very first sentence on the page gives President Obama credit for doling out all the benefits that are listed on the page. Unsurprisingly, “killing jobs and keeping capital on the sidelines” aren’t among the listed benefits.

Here’s what all this looks like. One Economy gets a pile of taxpayer money to “increase broadband access,” and to provide “relevant” content to these new internet users. Hello, gravy train. Robert Townsend et al get a little chunk of One Economy’s big pile to produce a show that amounts to bait to get people to discover pic.tv. This audience hunts around pic.tv’s helpful lifestyle links and finds pro-Obama propaganda disguised as free, helpful and neutral information to “live a better life.”

And you and I got to pay for it all.

Want to laugh out loud? Then go to this page and click on the “How is the Affordable Care Act going to cut health care costs?” link.