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Guest Thinkers

Let NPR Be NPR (by not being PR)

Here’s an artice that explains well why Congress should get the national government out of the radio and TV business.  A taste:

NPR’s defenders would respond indignantly to this argument by proclaiming that NPR is the nation’s highest form of journalism, that it’s utterly nonpartisan and unbiased, unlike those low-brow partisans Rush and O’Reilly, and that terrible calamities will befall Americans, especially poor and rural folks, if NPR is taken off the federal dole.

Unfortunately, these claims become harder and harder to justify, especially in the wake of conservative muckraker James O’Keefe’s video showing NPR’s top fundraiser, Ron Schiller, sucking up to what he thought were two wealthy donors affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Schiller casually berated Jews (especially ones who own media companies), the Tea Party, evangelical Christians, and Republicans.

But even leaving that sting video aside, evidence that NPR leans leftward is not hard to find. Take NPR itself, for example. The host of its own “On the Media” show, Bob Garfield, recently confessed: “If you were to somehow poll the political orientation of everybody in the NPR news organization and at all of the member stations, you would find an overwhelmingly progressive, liberal crowd.

The problem, of course, is explaining why a Congress elected by the Tea Party, evangelical Christians, and Republicans should fund a media outlet that not only disagrees with them, but has contempt for them as stupid and immoral.  That’s especially true, of course, in a time of potentially crippling public debt.

Some might say the Right has its Beck and Limbaugh, and the other side needs its advocates to have a fair-and-balanced media.  That’s surely true.

Beck and Limbaugh have gotten rich through their ratings.  It’s a sad commentary, you might add, that the truth, justice, and excellence of NPR should have to survive on such a commercial basis!  But NPR could, in truth,  easily get by both without commercials and without government. 

Nobody denies the quality of NPR’s viewers–their education and wealth.  The government only pays are very small part of NPR’s bills even now.  And, as the outlet that reinforces the opinions of the comfortable, left-leaning establishment, it could reasonably ask its affluent listeners to pony up just a bit more to have their self-esteem raised by expertly presented supportive information and analysis.

Then NPR could be what it really wants to be without having to worry about catering to a Congress (and indirectly an American public) it doesn’t even like or respect. 

You could also add:  That NPR made sense when there was just a limited number of channels and stations and no internet, no satellite radio, etc. etc.  There’s a media niche for every manner of opinion and taste now, and they can be very accessible at a very low cost.

The House vote to de-fund was pretty much straight party-line.  That could mean the Republicans are partisan and the Democrats are nonpartisan defenders of the public good.  Or it could be the difference between fiscal conservatives and big spenders.  Or it could be that NPR is not so nonpartisan.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


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