Ramesh, Jonah, I completely agree with your points except for your surprise that the Post ran it. Also:
1. Smiley’s tiresome Stewart-wielding point — who needs a Crossfire-style partisan ping-pong show when you can have intelligent, sophisticated discussion which PBS specializes in — is standard liberal group-think. Liberals think conservatives are very good at “name-calling” shows, as evidenced by election results, while sophisticated blue-state viewers prefer a level of discussion beyond the bumper-sticker talking points echoed by those dopey dittoheads. That’s before you laugh again at the point where Jon Stewart thinks he’s performing some fabulous civic duty with his yuk-yuk satire show, WFB with a little seltzer water-spraying thrown in. He’s had way too much praise from pompous liberals like Tom Brokaw praising him as the voice of Athenian democracy. See here.
2. It’s easy to state that the CPB “wasted” $14,000 on Fred Mann studying shows. (In fact, you can look up the transcripts on the Tavis web page. You can see him last week challenging Sen. Jeff Sessions on how the courts are stripping away our civil liberties, for example.) But if I hired a 22-year-old college graduate to watch PBS programs, I’d have to pay him or her a couple of thousand dollars a month to sift through them. The conflict isn’t over the money it costs to review programs. The conflict is the liberal belief that no official should ever review programs, because it’s awfully difficult to claim PBS is fair to conservatives. What Smiley and other liberals think is a “misguided” PBS debate is that there even is a PBS debate. They don’t want one. They prefer the liberal status quo, and to foster the believe that the liberal status quo isn’t liberal, just the triumph of intelligence in broadcasting.
3. In short conversations or articles, the Smiley-is-liberal case begins with his book, titled “Hard Left: Straight Talk About the Wrongs of the Right.”