Corporate fantasies of PBS

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Out in Nebraska, when they say something is "janked," they mean it's all messed up. Well, PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, seems to be janked.

The original idea of establishing a "public" network was that it would present a noncorporate view of the world. But in recent years, PBS has been taking more and more corporate "underwriting," which is another way of saying advertising, and more and more of its programming now mouths the corporate line.

For example, a recent feature on public radio's "All Things Considered" news show told about a new game called the Stock Market Game. This is a blatant piece of Wall Street propaganda being directed at 11- and 12-year-olds -- just the kind of thing that PBS was created to expose and lampoon. But, no, the new, corporate-friendly public radio broadcast the feature without an iota of journalistic skepticism, much less criticism or outrage.

In playing this "game," teams of elementary school kids are given $100,000 each in pretend money to invest in the stock market. Stop right there. Who in the real world has $100,000 to invest? Maybe 5 percent of Americans -- but the public radio reporter asked no embarrassing questions. Instead, a "game coordinator" in one of the schools was interviewed to tell us that sometimes the kids make a lot of money with their virtual investments, and sometimes they don't. Not a whisper that sometimes you lose everything! Another perky proponent of the Stock Market Game was interviewed and gushed that it was a great way "to teach students about the American economy."

Yeah, if you want to teach them fantasy. If you want to teach reality, the game would include news that the profits the kids make on their stocks are based on downsizings of workers, foreign sweatshop labor, environmental contamination, CEO greed, corporate welfare and other abuses that would appall an 11-year-old. But "All Things Considered" didn't consider these things.

Jim Hightower is an author, radio commentator, public speaker and political sparkplug from Austin, Texas. For more populist commentary, visit his website.

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