The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 30, 2012

Stephen Verotsky | PBS a good change of pace for Fox News junkies

“Information is the currency of Democracy.”

– Thomas Jefferson


It is ironic that many loyal viewers of Fox News are opposed to subsidizing PBS with American taxpayer dollars.

Programs on PBS cover a wide variety of topics including history, both U.S. and world; science and nature; health; and the arts.

“Sesame Street” and Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood” are popular shows for children. News programs, including those originating in Japan and Germany, are broad-  cast.

Those who receive their news solely from Fox generally describe themselves as political conservatives. One of their professed values is patriotism. Without a doubt, programs found on PBS provide information that fosters patriotism. Logically, conservatives should be the biggest supporters and financial contrib-  utors to PBS, instead of its biggest critics.

The irony does not end there. It is unlikely that many of those who get their news from Fox and can quote the network’s mantra, “Fair and balanced,” know who owns News Corporation, parent of Fox.

News Corporation, a global media conglomerate, was founded by media magnate Rupert Murdoch. He created Fox Broadcasting Co. in 1986, a year after he became an American citizen.

Murdoch owns more than 200 newspapers, from weeklies to major dailies. He has at least 15 movie and television production studios, and broadcast, satellite and cable outlets, both entertainment and news-oriented, in more than 50 countries, including the United States, Britain, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, Latvia, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, China, Hong Kong and throughout Latin America.

His wife, Wendi Deng, heads News Corporation’s office in China.

Rupert Murdoch was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1931. In 1949, he went to England to attend Worchester College at Oxford University.

When Murdoch’s father died in 1952, Rupert inherited his papers in Adelaide, Australia, the Sunday Mail and The News. He began to expand his operations four years later and never stopped.

Even as a young publisher building an empire, he was interested in more that just reporting the news.

“I sensed the excitement and the power,” he later said. “Not raw power, but the ability to influence at least the agenda of what was going on.” (

Critics have claimed that nothing that happens in the Murdoch empire is done without his approval, and that although he does not vet every story, he approves the tone and the approach and the views expressed.

What is good for the world is not necessarily good for America. Many nations, especially those that have business interests outside of their borders, and many international corporations, such as Murdoch’s News Corporation, benefit from the presence of the U.S. military around the globe. Stability is needed for businesses to flourish; at a high cost to the American taxpayers, our military satisfies that need.

In light of our federal government’s budget deficit and growing debt crisis, many Americans, including members of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, want cuts to be made to the Pentagon’s foreign budget, along with cuts to the general budget.

Arguably, it is the sensible thing to do.

Fox News and its ardent supporters are in opposition. Intead, they want the military’s budget to be increased and want all the cuts to be made to the general budget – cuts that will affect average Americans.

Is the foreign-born Murdoch using his controlling interest in Fox News to influence the decisions our nation makes relative to our military’s presense on foreign soils? Is he putting his interests before those of the nation?

Since he did not become a citizen until age 54, does he maintain a sense of loyalty to the Commonwealth of Nations and its needs? (The Commonwealth formerly was known as the British Empire and recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as its head.)

These are questions that should be discussed, especially by the conservative/patriotic viewers of Fox.

It is not suggested that the viewers of Fox News quit watching. It is suggested that they adhere to a modified adage. When in search of the news, “you should not get all of your eggs from one basket.”

An appropriate source for them to consider would be PBS. If an increase in the number of viewers of PBS results, it would be both ironic and fitting.


Stephen J. Verotsky of  Johnstown, a retired high school mathematics teacher after 36 years of service, is an occasional contributor to the editorial page.

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