A scandal broke last May when WGBH-TV, the Boston affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service, admitted to sharing donor lists--a common nonprofit practice--with the Democratic National Committee. The scandal grew after a series of exposés by The Boston Globe revealed the extent of the practice, the possible violations of federal tax laws, and the fact that the station was disregarding its own ethics code. The scandal spread as several other public stations admitted to similar practices.
Such revelations came at the worst possible time for the PBS gang, which was all but assured of receiving a 40 percent increase in federal funding and an extra $749 million to buy digital broadcasting equipment. The events left Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), chairman of the committee that proposed the hike and the funds for the digital upgrade, and other congressional Republicans red-faced and furious. Not only did the scandal kill all hopes of increased funding for public broadcasters, but Republicans are set to prohibit future list swapping.
But wait. After the scandal broke, PBS affiliates in New York and Washington admitted to sharing their donor lists not only with Democrats but with Republican-backed groups as well. It turns out that only the Boston station, whose board includes a DNC official, didn't share their donors with the GOP.