by Doug Richards, 11Alive
ATLANTA — Georgia Public Broadcasting canceled a popular political show after Georgia lawmakers cut GPB’s budget earlier this year.
"Political Rewind" was the only statewide daily radio show that covered Georgia politics in depth. According to some of its backers, the program may have run afoul of some of the Georgia politicians it covered.
While Georgia lawmakers were increasing budgets this year for law enforcement, education and other pet programs – Republican leaders quietly cut $1.2 million from Georgia Public Broadcasting. It may be best known for hosting a debate series during election seasons.
But GPB also hosted "Political Rewind," a daily show on its network that dug hosted by former state capitol reporter Bill Nigut. The show developed a devoted following among politically attuned Georgians.
As the new cut in GPB’s budget loomed, the network canceled "Political Rewind," announcing it Friday.
"The end of 'Political Rewind's' airing on GPB was part of a programming realignment that also impacted other GPB offerings. There have been no discussions with lawmakers about eliminating the program," GPB wrote in a statement to 11Alive News Monday. "We're proud of the work that Bill Nigut and the Political Rewind team put into the program, and there is no correlation in the program's ending with show guests."
Nigut declined to comment.
"This isn’t budget," said state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), who was a repeat panelist for nine years on the program. "I think it’s a strategic political decision of Georgia Public (Broadcasting) i.e. the (state) Republican leadership, to not support a civil bipartisan conversation."
Last week, the GPB show looked behind the appearance earlier this month of former president Donald Trump at the state’s Republican convention.
"Everything is 'witch hunt, scam, hoax'" said panelist Patricia Murphy, a columnist with the AJC who appeared regularly on the show. "Everything in (Trump's) mind is a huge plot to interfere with his own election. That is nonsense, obviously."
Her commentary was consistent with Political Rewind’s pattern of declining to invite onto the show Republicans who espouse conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
But Republicans like Georgia House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), and former state Rep. Ed Lindsey were regular guests on the show.
Efstration said Monday he didn't know why Senate Republicans led the effort to cut GPB's budget. He said he regrets the cancelation of the show.
Oliver, a longtime lawmaker, added that history guides the motivation. "It has always been true that the party in control of the state has been in control of public radio," she said.
GPB is expected to keep airing "Political Rewind" between now and its final scheduled broadcast next week – right before GPB’s leaner budget will take effect.