Privatize NPR

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jack Shafer of Slate calls the conservatives' bluff on their cynical, empty threats to defund NPR in the wake of the Juan Williams firing:

President Richard Nixon wanted to defund public broadcasting, [Jesse] Walker notes, as did the Reagan administration. Just weeks before he became speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich talked of his ambition to "zero-out" federal funding of all public broadcasting. Now John Boehner is making noises about killing NPR, which he calls a "left-wing radio network." But the Republican threats never go anywhere, Walker writes, because the GOP's primary goal is to "whip" the networks into line, not to defund them. NPR and PBS have been such useful campaign targets for Republicans that if they didn't exist, the Republicans would have to invent them. [links dropped]
All I'd change in the above paragraph would be to insert "claimed he" between "Nixon" and "wanted," and take out the last sentence. Conservatives hate government news media the same way they hate government schools, as one can see through their actions with respect to the latter: Rather than fight to get rid of public schools, they fight to use them to ram Creationism down the throats of everyone's children.

But Schafer does us one better in his column: He makes an explicit connection between freedom of speech and independence from government funding.
No matter what the percentage, you'd think 1) that by now NPR would be sick of being a political pawn and 2) that it would want to liberate itself permanently from all of the Nixons, Reagans, Gingrichs, and Boehners. Far from being a radical idea, this has been the direction the network has been heading in since its founding...


Having come this far, NPR should go all the way and remove its fingers from the public pocket. Only by making itself independent of government funding will it become independent of government meddling.
From Shafer's list of men he doesn't want pulling the strings, I presume he's on the blue end of the political spectrum, but he shows a far better appreciation for the side benefits of capitalism than Sarah Palin did when she blathered that, "NPR says its mission is 'to create a more informed public,' but ... Congress should make clear that unless NPR provides that public service, not one more dime."

Too bad Palin doesn't know or care about the real reason NPR should be defunded, and too bad Shafer doesn't see the dangers of government meddling beyond the threat it poses to the integrity of his favorite radio network.

A sports writer likened the latest round of NFL action to Seinfeld's "The Opposite" episode. Good comparison, but that's nothing compared to the current political debate. Were it only just, "Opposite Era!"

-- CAV


Roger said...

It's too bad Shafer doesn't go a step further with his government funding = government meddling argument. He should remember that the next time he complains about lobbyists in Washington, and the fact that corporations spend a lot of money to influence governmental activities. We won't ever get money out of politics until we get politics out of money

Gus Van Horn said...

Excellent point. Such government interference necessitates lobbying.