Conservatives in Congress Split on 'American Idol' vs. PBS

By Pete Winn | May 7, 2009 | 10:15 PM EDT

Contestant Allison Iraheta on "American Idol" (Photo courtesy of American Idol/Fox))

( - Which better reflects American values – Fox’s “American Idol” or PBS? got a mixture of answers when it asked conservative congressmen that question Thursday.
For Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the choice was easy.
“I have to think it’s got to be ‘American Idol,’ ” Franks said. “At least the people get a chance to vote there. With PBS, they just have to pay for it and have no voice.”
He explained: “With ‘American Idol,’ the people get to vote on the stars they think are better than the others, and there’s the voice of the people there, and the survival of the program is really founded on the people’s response. With PBS, the people are forced by their taxes to have to pay for it, but PBS does not have to listen to viewers – they just have to convince Congress to keep giving them money.”
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), the co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, said he “wouldn’t choose either one.”
“I have to leave that to everybody else to make their decision,” Forbes told “I don’t think most people look to either ‘American Idol’ or PBS broadcasting for all of their values.”
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the chairman of the House Republican Conference, was equally diplomatic -- “I think the length and breadth and height of American taste is encompassed by both.”
But when pressed, Pence added: “Well, I’m still broken-hearted that Allison was voted off the show. And I’m pretty sure that ‘American Idol’ doesn’t air on PBS.”
On Wednesday, ‘American Idol’ viewers voted 17-year old Allison Iraheta off the Fox program.
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), meantime, held out for another option.
“How about c): none of the above,” Harper said. “‘American Idol’ is very much a cultural phenomenon, and certainly there are more viewers of that than the PBS system, but I enjoy both of them.”