Congress Targets Sesame Street
Stephen Labaton's latest story on the PBS beat, "Panel Would Cut Public Broadcasting Aid" runs in Friday's art section: "A House Appropriations panel on Thursday approved a spending bill that would cut the budget for public television and radio nearly in half and eliminate a $23 million federal program that has provided some money for producing children's shows that include 'Sesame Street,' 'Clifford the Big Red Dog,' 'Between the Lions" and "Dragon Tales.'
The presentation seems stacked from the start. An accompanying photo caption warns, "Financing for the Ready to Learn program is in jeopardy" over a cute logo from PBS of the program in question, while a cut-out line indulges in PBS nostalgia over one of its more popular programs: "A Congressional subcommittee's reductions would be felt on 'Sesame Street.'" Only deep into the story is it pointed out that most of the money for the children's shows in fact comes from license revenue, not the Ready to Learn program.
He writes: "Republican lawmakers said the cuts were not aimed at punishing public broadcasting but were the reality of preparing budgets at a time of growing deficits. But Democrats took a different view."
Labaton then quotes four supporters of PBS: Democratic Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the Iowa Public Broadcasting Board, John Lawson, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, and Gary Knell, president of Sesame Workshop. Sandwiched between those four supporting quotes is just one source with the other point of view: John Scofield, spokesman for the Appropriations Committee.
Again, reporter Labaton labels  the right but not the left in an article on the controversy over liberal bias at PBS: "The vote came as public stations and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are engaged in a debate over the editorial balance in programming and the independence of the stations. The head of the Republican-controlled corporation, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, has pressed public broadcasting to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias. That has prompted public broadcasting leaders - including the chief executive of PBS - to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence."
Labaton later lets NPR make a stereotypical liberal argument: "Officials at National Public Radio said rural and minority communities would be hardest hit by the cuts."
Click here  for the rest of Labaton on PBS.
The Times Finally Checks Up on Dr. Dean
It took a congressional photo-op, but the Times finally checks  on the state of Howard Dean's mouth. Reporter Anne Kornblut follows the Democratic party boss on his politically motivated visit to Capitol Hill in Friday's "Dean's Remarks Draw Fire From Both Sides of Aisle."
Kornblut notes: "Republicans have attacked him with glee for those remarks, which they have described as 'below the belt,' while Democrats have struggled to defend him yet have quietly acknowledged that Dr. Dean was showing signs of being as polarizing as they once feared."
The Times finally lets its readers in on the controversial statements from Dean that have party loyalists fretting: "Mr. Nelson was among those who admonished Dr. Dean, a former governor of Vermont, in private, cautioning him not to risk alienating Republicans with personal insults of the kind he delivered last week, when he said that many 'of them have not made an honest living in their lives.' Dr. Dean has tossed several other sweeping barbs at Republicans in recent days, saying that the party is made up only of white Christian conservatives who are intolerant of diversity and that he hates what they represent.The question of Dr. Dean's temperament has followed him from the start of his failed presidential bid and was embodied by the infamous scream he delivered after losing the Iowa caucuses, which Republicans used to portray him as an extremist liberal."
To read the rest of Kornblut on Dean, click here: 
Free Enterprise Wins a Round in Canada
Canada's mandatory system of socialized medicine was dealt a blow yesterday by its Supreme Court, correspondent Clifford Krauss explains from Toronto: "The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Quebec law banning private medical insurance in a decision that represents an acute blow to the publicly financed national health care system.The Canadian health care system provides free doctor's services that are paid for by taxes. The system has generally been strongly supported by the public, and is broadly identified with the Canadian national character. Canada is the only industrialized county that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services. But in recent years patients have been forced to wait longer for diagnostic tests and elective surgery, while the wealthy and well connected either sought care in the United States or used influence to jump medical lines."
Perhaps not surprisingly, the victory for free enterprise in Canada is portrayed in negative terms by a Times' headline writer: "In Blow to Canada's Health System, Quebec Law Is Voided."
To read more of Krauss from Canada, click here: