James Baldwin on PBS

From James Baldwin: Film Excerpt: Writer, Teacher, Preacher

An encore of James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket (original broadcast August 14, 1989) is scheduled for Friday, August 23 at 9pm on PBS in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (8/28/1963). This broadcast also coincides with the 25th anniversary of James Baldwin’s death (12/1/1987) and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (1/1/1863).

Also, James Baldwin: Film: James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket


James Baldwin (Aug. 2, 1924 – Dec. 1, 1987)

To Jimmy (and Jose), with Love: I Walk Freely Among Racism


Et tu, Liberal Media?

The erosion of support for the Commons is most distinct in the failure of foundational support for universal public education in favor of the more powerful interests of corporate America. Just as public schools and teachers have no political party, the so-called liberal media have also abandoned public education and America’s workers, teachers.

Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert have fallen into the corporate education reform trap by buying into and thus selling the “bad” teacher myth, the charter school scam, the Michelle Rhee self-promotion tour, and the Teach for America masquerade. NBC and MSNBC, along with CNN, have long been marginalized by the Right as shining examples of the liberal media, but all have fallen in line with the corporate education reform agenda through programming such as Education Nation—corporate reform propaganda pretending to be investigative media.

This week, PBS (certainly the gold-standard of liberal media, if we believe public perception) ran an episode of Frontline examining once again Michelle Rhee: “The Education of Michelle Rhee.”

Teachers, scholars, and education activists—including education historian Diane Ravitch—held onto the slimmest glimmer of hope that the unmasking of Rhee would finally come in the form of genuinely democratic media, free of corporate agendas.

However, the program with the tagline “FRONTLINE examines the legacy of one of America’s most admired & reviled school reformers” left educators and public school advocates saying, “Et tu, liberal media?”

On balance, PBS provided Rhee yet more media coverage, satisfying her self-promotion, but leaving a tremendous vacuum of things unsaid as well as truly accurate and confrontational responses to Rhee on the cutting room floor.

John Merrow and American journalism have once again failed the democratic purposes of public media and the promise of universal public education.

Merrow, however, has chosen to run a much more detailed and enlightening piece online, in writing, about Adelle Cothorne, leading many to wonder: Why offer the larger and more powerful TV audience Rhee propaganda-lite and bury something closer to Rhee confrontation in an online blog?

The answer is ugly.

The Commons in the form of journalism and education have been consumed by the consumer culture that feeds the Corporate Greed pooling America’s resources in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.

Public education, its students, and its teachers have no political party and have no media to fight for the truths that must be revealed if democracy, and not corporate interests, is our goal.