PBS President Ervin Duggan’s strongly worded opposition to advertising created a public rift in the “presidents group” that has been coordinating relations with Congress. In a speech April 11, Duggan said that public TV, if deprived of federal aid, would be tempted to turn to advertising, which he compared to prostitution.
The right-wing <em>Washington Times</em> promptly headlined, “PBS chief portrays Republicans as cruel pimps of privatization,” which upset some Republicans including House Appropriations Chairman Robert Livingston (La).
“I really can’t discuss this,” CPB President Richard Carlson told the newspaper later, “but we’re trying to do serious work here and I wish people would stop making speeches like this.”
Carlson called Livingston to disassociate himself from Duggan’s remarks, the <em>Times</em> reported, and sent a similar note to the CPB Board.
Duggan meanwhile complained to the <em>Times</em> that its reporter had “deliberately distorted” his speech, which “attacked no one” and was not disrespectful.