Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s Fifth District in Congress. He proudly identifies himself first and foremost as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. With a little help from Karen Hunter (as he notes in the Acknowledgements), he has now written the memoir cum manifesto My Country, ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future. Ellison writes in chapter 14 (“What’s the Matter With Congress?”):
Some media outlets are not disseminating news but are replacing news with opinion and entertainment. Others focus on reporting personalities and “the horse race” in politics, presenting “both sides” of any question with no effort to sort fact from falsehood. Too few focus on giving voters the information they need to make up their own minds.
During the 2012 election cycle, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney proposed defunding the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). I was opposed to this proposal, as all Americans should have been. PBS provides one of the best outlets where we can get news and information that’s accurate. And he wanted to get rid of it?
The existence of PBS and National Public Radio (NPR) is crucial for having informed citizens. They provide an important alternative. Some people may not want to tune in because they’re not “entertaining” enough, and the right wing claims they have a liberal bias (I disagree). But it’s necessary. Without PBS and NPR, and other fact-based outlets, we would be worse off.
The Constitution says that Congress should make no law abridging freedom of the press. Congress [sic] also says you have a right to a lawyer if you’re charged with a crime. But what do we do if people can’t afford one? We give them a lawyer. If we aren’t getting a free press, I believe the government should at least support public broadcasting.