Ask why. Like why is a former Enron trader covertly funding a public television series on pension systems?

According to David Sirota over at Pando Daily, billionaire and Enron alum John Arnold has financed a new two-year news series entitled “Pension Peril.” A program that, not surprisingly, pushes an agenda that companies like Enron would love.

The series, promoting cuts to public employee pensions, is airing on hundreds of PBS outlets all over the nation. It has been presented as objective news on major PBS programs including the PBS News Hour.

However, neither the WNET press release nor the broadcasted segments explicitly disclosed who is financing the series. Pando has exclusively confirmed that “Pension Peril” is secretly funded by former Enron trader John Arnold, a billionaire political powerbroker who is actively trying to shape the very pension policy that the series claims to be dispassionately covering.

Yep WNET has again been caught doing the bidding of politically active plutocrats. It’s just getting sad. First the Koch Brothers, now this?

Not surprisingly John Arnold has a reactionary “charitable” foundation to engage in the usual politics of the wealthy known euphemistically as “philanthropy.” What does the Arnold Foundation fund and promote? You guessed it, slashing public worker pensions.

Similarly, in each episode of the Arnold/PBS series that has aired, the reporting has followed the Arnold Foundation’s rhetorical lead by forwarding the idea that pension benefit cuts should be the primary policy solution to public budget problems. It does this by promoting the need for cuts to guaranteed retirement incomes and/or by refusing to mention that pension shortfalls are dwarfed by the amount state and local governments collectively spend each year on corporate subsidies (many of which do not create jobs).

What is the point of “public” television if it is just going to be a mouthpiece for special interests?

In fact, this is even worse than having PBS be yet another outlet for Neoliberal talking points. This program deceitfully presents a reactionary political agenda as fair and objective. PBS it is acting as a propaganda outlet while posing as a media group working for the public interest.

Totally shameful and this is not the fist time WNET has been caught doing this. Time for new leadership at WNET, preferably some people who will take into account the public – not private – interest when doing deals for programming.