Investigative Journalist David Sirota wrote a brilliant series of articles about PBS taking $3.5 million about pension reform from the foundation of billionaire JohnArnold, a former Enron trader. After stonewalling, PBS decided there was a perception of conflict of interest since Arnold has been a prominent figure in the public debate about public pensions. And PBS returned the money.

Here is an analysis of the imbroglio by Felix Salmon of Reuters. It is an open secret that PBS has become heavily dependent on corporate funding, as Salmon notes here:

“There’s a whole world of subtext in that phrase, “we thought we were following the guidelines” — a lot of which my former boss Jim Ledbetter teased out in his 1997 book Made Possible By…: The Death of Public Broadcasting in the United States. The big problem is that public broadcasting has become dependent on corporate financing — and has become very good at coming up with programming which represents corporate interests.” I was reminded of a conversation I had with a high-level executive of Maryland Public Broadcasting a year ago; she said to me, “We no longer can do investigative journalism, we go where we find corporate sponsors.”

Sirota’s original pieces were “The Wolf of Sesame Street” and “How PBS is Becoming The Plutocratic Broadcasting Service.”