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Between corporate media giants and Trump, PBS has big challenges

Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, will talk with Recode’s Peter Kafka at Code Conference 2019.

2019 Winter TCA Tour - Day 5
PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger will speak with Recode’s Peter Kafka on Monday about the network’s place in an extremely competitive video environment.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

PBS has been a political football for years, and with Donald Trump in the White House, it’s only gotten more complicated for the public broadcasting channel. Some Republicans seem hell-bent on defunding it, even though the coverage it does is more important now than ever.

Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, will speak to Recode’s Peter Kafka at Code Conference on Tuesday. They’ll discuss what it’s like to cover politics with a White House that often lies and a president who decries any negative coverage as fake news. They’ll also talk about where PBS fits in in an era when video is becoming increasingly controlled by a handful of major corporations, including Comcast, AT&T, Amazon, Netflix and Apple.

Kerger, who joined PBS in 2006, is its longest-serving president and CEO, and under her watch, the network moved from the 14th most-watched to the sixth most-watched in the United States in the course of a decade. Alcindor took on her post at PBS NewsHour in January 2018 and previously worked for the New York Times and USA Today. At the Times, she covered the 2016 campaigns of Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Earlier this year, Kerger spoke with Recode’s Kara Swisher about how the network has been caught in the political crosshairs. Trump has proposed a federal budget that would strip financial support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS, as well as public television stations and NPR. Before Trump, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he wanted to defund the CPB as well. (It’s worth pointing out here that Congress decides the budget, not the president.)

“I don’t understand why we’re a political pawn,” Kerger told Swisher.

Kerger and Alcindor will discuss all this and more with Recode’s Peter Kafka starting at 3:55 p.m. PT on Tuesday, June 11.

How to watch the full interview: Each and every onstage interview at Code will be available to watch in full on Recode’s YouTube channel in the coming days.

You can also get live updates and breaking news from the stage. Follow Recode on Twitter so you don’t miss a beat. We’ll be live-tweeting our onstage interview with Kerger and Alcindor using #CodeCon. We’ll also feature some exclusive behind-the-scenes highlights from the conference on Instagram.

Recode and Vox have joined forces to uncover and explain how our digital world is changing — and changing us. Subscribe to Recode podcasts to hear Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka lead the tough conversations the technology industry needs today.