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The NewsHour on Wednesday tapped retiring moderate U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) to discuss congressional dysfunction. Interviewed by Senior Correspondent Gwen Ifill, the two provided a free-wheeling inside view of what has happened over the last couple of decades on the Hill. They touched on the roll played by the media, no-tax pledges, no-comprise candidate platforms and sacred-cow entitlement programs. They also offered suggestions on what they would do, if they could, to address the gridlock that poll after poll suggests is detested by the vast majority of American citizens.
Colorado Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn has led the charge to strip government funds from public broadcasting, saying that outlets like PBS and NPR are biased against conservative politics and that the news shows are popular enough after 40 years to survive on advertising revenues. Surveys have consistently shown however that, in the era of overheated cable news, Americans like the product that the not-for-profit business model has delivered, ranking PBS, for example, the most trusted institution in the nation. This week the PBS Newshour was awarded the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for political television coverage. Gwen Ifill accepted the award in Los Angeles as PBS's cable news counterparts hosted "birther" conspiracy theorists and sent hundreds of reporters each to London to cover the royal wedding, many more than they sent to Japan to cover the natural and nuclear disasters last month and many more than they have stationed in the powder keg Middle East.