Tom­lin­son quits broad­cast­ing board, plans book on his tra­vails there

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Eric Pfeif­fer

Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors Chair­man Ken­neth Y. Tom­lin­son an­nounced that he is step­ping down af­ter four years on the job, cit­ing plans to write a book about his ex­pe­ri­ences in the pub­lic broad­cast­ing sec­tor, which many see as skewed by a lib­eral bias.

“I think it’s a good story that will help the pub­lic un­der­stand how Wash­ing­ton op­er­ates,” Mr. Tom­lin­son said on Jan. 9. “There’s been a crim­i­nal­iza­tion of po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences.”

Pres­i­dent Bush nom­i­nated Mr. Tom­lin­son to serve an­other term on the board, but the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee failed to act on the nom­i­na­tion.

A State De­part­ment in­spec­tor gen­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion or­dered by Demo­cratic law­mak­ers ac­cused Mr. Tom­lin­son of run­ning a “horse-rac­ing op­er­a­tion” from his gov­ern­ment of­fice and said he “im­prop­erly put a friend on the pay­roll.” Mr. Tom­lin­son runs a stable of Thor­ough­bred race­horses on his private farm in Vir­ginia.

The re­sults of the in­ves­tiga- tion were turned over to the Jus­tice De­part­ment, which has not brought charges against Mr. Tom­lin­son. The in­spec­tor gen­eral re­ported that Mr. Tom­lin­son spent fewer than three min­utes and sent one e-mail per day on his horse-rac­ing ven­tures.

Mr. Tom­lin­son de­scribed the ac­cu­sa­tions as “patently un­true.”

“My crit­ics will say this is an in­di­ca­tor that Ken Tom­lin­son is quit­ting pub­lic life,” he said. “But I’m just be­gin­ning to fight. This book will be a much more ef­fec­tive way to bring to light the in­jus­tices done to me.”

Dur­ing Mr. Tom­lin­son’s ten­ure, the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors worked to open news op­er­a­tions in parts of the world where au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes blocked ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion. As a re­sult of th­ese ini­tia­tives, an Ara­bic lan­guage satel­lite TV net­work now broad­casts in Iraq and other Mus­lim na­tions, Per­sian lan­guage satel­lite news is fed daily into Iran, and ra­dio and television broad­cast sig­nals are sent into Afghanistan and Cuba.

The trans­mis­sions into Cuba are jammed by what an­a­lysts think is a high-cost ef­fort of Fidel Cas­tro’s com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment.

“If what we were do­ing wasn’t im­por­tant, Cas­tro would not be spend­ing the money to block the sig­nal,” Mr. Tom­lin­son said.

Larry Hart, spokesman for the Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors, said Mr. Bush will se­lect a re­place­ment for Mr. Tom­lin­son and any other board mem­bers whose terms have ex­pired. Board mem­bers may serve un­til the Se­nate con­firms their re­place­ments.

“There may be a num­ber of nom­i­na­tions go­ing for­ward,” Mr. Hart said.

The board in­cludes four Democrats and four Repub­li­cans. The sec­re­tary of state serves as the ninth mem­ber, giv­ing a one­seat edge to which­ever party con­trols the White House.

“I am proud of my record of ser­vice dur­ing th­ese trou­bled times,” Mr. Tom­lin­son wrote to Mr. Bush on Jan. 9, “and I have ap­pre­ci­ated deeply your re­peat­edly sub­mit­ting my name to the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee for re­con­fir­ma­tion to this po­si­tion. Those who op­pose my nom­i­na­tion cite charges against me that sim­ply do not stand up to scru­tiny.”

Be­fore join­ing the board, Mr. Tom­lin­son served as ed­i­tor in chief of Reader’s Digest and was di­rec­tor of Voice of Amer­ica.

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