National Public Radio under attack and in jeopardy

By now you’ve no doubt heard that House Republicans voted to strip federal funding from National Public Radio. The bill, which was rushed through before the scheduled House recess, passed 228 to 192, with only seven Republicans voting against it. If passed by the Senate, the bill would keep an estimated $90 million from NPR. Fortunately, it seems unlikely that the measure will pass the Senate, as Democrats appear to have the votes necessary to stop it, at least for the time being.

The cuts, if they were to happen, would disproportionately hurt smaller, more rural stations, that raise less through listener pledge drives than their larger, more urban counterparts. These stations, in many cases, would not be able to keep broadcasting if they were to lose their federal support. And, it’s worth noting that these might very well be the same small, struggling communities that are in danger of losing their public libraries as well. Which, I think most of you would agree, would be pretty devastating for our democracy.

“At a time when other news organizations are cutting back and the voices of pundits are drowning out fact-based reporting and thoughtful analysis, NPR and public radio stations are delivering in-depth news and information respectfully and with civility,” said Joyce Slocum, interim chief executive officer of NPR.

Representative Anthony Weiner attacked his Republicans colleagues on the floor of the House for their misplaced priorities, deploying sarcasm to an extent rarely seen in the historic chamber.

Speaking of misplaced priorities, as others have noted, the U.S. spent considerably more on the Tomohawk missiles fired at Libya yesterday (119, costing over half a million dollars a piece) than it would on NPR in an entire year. (I’m not, by the way, suggesting that the the people of Libya don’t need our support against Gaddafi. I just think it’s ridiculous for the Republicans to maintain that, in the whole scheme of things, the amount we invest in NPR is anywhere near significant.)

According to a report in the Washington Examiner, “defunding NPR will save $0.00009 trillion, compared to $1.3 trillion debt and $14 trillion deficit” we presently find ourselves facing. What’s more, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the net savings would actually be $0.

So it’s not about the budget. It’s about keeping the (inconvenient) truth from people. It’s about giving the corporate press even more power and control. It’s about systematically squashing those that would have the audacity to actually fact-check the “reporting” of Fox News. This is about controlling the flow of information to the American people – nothing more, nothing less.

weiner72hrsOh, and it’s also worth noting that the Republicans in the House broke their own rule in bringing this legislation to a vote without first giving 72 hours notice, as Speaker of the House Boehner pledged to always do. (This photo shows Weiner on the floor of the House, demanding to know why rules were broken in this instance. Follow the previous link for video of the confrontation, which I think you’ll find pretty chilling.)

The attack against NPR, while being waged for several years now, has really been heating up since the network fired conservative commentator Juan Williams earlier this winter, after he made statements considered to be anti-Muslim on Fox News. Recently, things have taken another turn as conservative “journalist” James O’Keefe pulled off yet another one of his infamous stings. This one, which came to light a week or so ago, was directed against the radio network’s lead fundraiser, Ron Schiller. (Video of the sting can be found here.) Following is a quote from Schiller, who thought that he was having lunch with two Muslim businessmen interested in making a $5 million contribution to NPR.

“…The current Republican party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian. I wouldn’t even call it Christian; it’s this wierd evangelical kind of move.

The current Republican party is not really the Republican party, it’s been hijacked by this group; that is, not just Islamaphobic but really xenophobic. I mean, basically, they are, they believe in sort of white, middle American, gun toting — I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.

Now, I’ll talk personally – as opposed to wearing my NPR hat. It feels to me that there is a real anti-intellectual move on the part of a significant part of the Republican party. In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives.

Well, to me, this [Egypt] is representative of the thing that I, uh, I guess I am most disturbed by and disappointed by in this country; which is that the educated, so-called ‘elite’ in this country is too small a percentage of the population, so that you have this very large, uneducated part of the population, that, that carries these ideas.

It’s, it’s much more about this type of anti-intellectualism than it is about a political. A university, also by definition, is considered in this country to be liberal, ah, even though it’s not at all liberal. It’s liberal because it’s intellectual — pursuit of knowledge and that is traditionally something that Democrats have funded and Republicans have not funded…”

As you would expect from O’Keefe, the video has been highly edited, but, as Schiller had clearly expressed disdain for Tea Party Republicans, regardless of the manipulative editing, he was fired along with the CEO of NPR. While everyone seems to be debating what Schiller was thinking, opening up in a public place to strangers about his personal views, I haven’t heard anyone yet point out what I see as obvious, which is that everything that he said was 100% correct. Sure, it may have been misguided for someone in his position to say so, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was completely right. Some, however, are saying that NPR should stop apologizing and, for once, start defending itself. The following comes from NPR producer Ira Glass:

“Public radio is being hit with a barrage of criticism that it’s left-wing media–biased, reprehensible—and we’re doing nothing to stand up for our brand. They’re not responding like a multimedia organization that’s actually growing and superpopular.”

Anyway, the next time you’ve got an extra dollar or two, please consider making a donation, and write to your elected officials letting them know how important NPR is to our country.

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  1. Bob
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I tend to think it’s important to support anything that Republicans are attacking, as a general rule. But the flip side of this story is the increasingly shitty quality of most NPR content. We are largely fortunate to have WEMU, which is one of the last bastions of old public radio style programming. It’s better than most, so maybe we should support them. But in general, on a national level it kind of sucks. WDET is a perfect example, what has happened to that station is criminal. They ruined it. Long before the public firing of Bandyke, Adams and the rest I mean. Those two helped destroy it with their bland, public radio formatting efforts. Nationally the news has just become increasingly corporate and toothless too. It’s really no better than network news. Half the reporters do double duty at places like Fox News anyway. The weakened quality is much of the reason that many people have stopped supporting NPR.

  2. Posted March 21, 2011 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    It’s worth noting that Schiller’s quote about the Flea Baggers was a quote of a Republican.

    I find it disturbing that an idiot like O’Keefe is given as much power as he is.

  3. Knox
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    They’re cowards. They should stand up for themselves. Instead, they go out of their way to appear as though they’re completely non-partisan, to the point of hiring people like Juan Williams in the first place, as though the Fox News Republicans deserve to have their conspiracy theories considered alongside facts. They should stick to reporting the facts. Maybe losing all their federal funding would be a good thing. Maybe they’ll stop trying so hard to appeal to everyone, and just stick to the reporting.

  4. Jeff
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Fascinating reading for our thinking about NPR and its utility/pseudo-progressive position:

    I was completely stunned to learn Terri Gross hasn’t yet had Ralph on Fresh Air. I wrote her an email to suggest she do so, before he’s gone. And I think the fact that he’d almost certainly critique NPR, as a guest on Fresh Air, might actually be useful.

  5. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    The perfect is the enemy of the good…
    I cannot believe what people will complain about here. You can go anywhere in MI and receive amazing NPR shows…even to the tip of the Keewenaw!

  6. Edward
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I love me some Weiner.

  7. Elf
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Rush Limbaugh is broadcast over Armed Services Radio.

  8. John Galt
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Think of all the money we could save on teachers, if we just piped Rush Limbaugh into our classrooms four hours a day? I bet, with what we saved, we could double the number of prisons we presently have. Everyone would win!

  9. TaterSalad
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    NPR & PBS…………gone! thank you! both are super progressive BS centers of the lowest degree of non essentials! Let them make it on their own if they’re so good and everyone wants them then. the market will prove it one way or the other! Simple as that and everyone can then STFU!

  10. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Hope you eat those words tater

  11. Posted March 22, 2011 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    It won’t pass the Senate, nor a Presidential veto. It’s a non-issue.

  12. Edward
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Isn’t there a bridge somewhere that you should be under, Tater?

  13. Posted March 22, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I think that he missed that episode of Schoolhouse Rock.

  14. TaterSalad
    Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    You can be part of the solution or you can be part of the problem in America’s debt crisis! What part of this are you Edwardlittleguy?

  15. TaterSalad
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Something you won’t get on NPR or PBS:

    Quesion: Will the liberal loon Katie Coric have a Mulsim show and will she be able to invite this woman to anchor. Seems she has what it takes to tell the truth, something Coric doesn’t have:

  16. K2
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    You are a fucking nut, Tater. No one here is going to dispute that Veena Makik did a great job defending herself. You’re delusional if you think that those of us on the left like religious fundamentalists, whether they be Christian or Muslim.

  17. TaterSalad
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Bet you voted for this whackjob also:

    Obama has lived for almost 50 years without leaving any footprints — none! There is no Obama documentation — no bona fides — no paper trail — nothing.

    Original, vault copy birth certificate — Not released (lawyers’ fees greater than $2,000,000 ~ birth certificate is $15)
    Certification of Live Birth — Released — Counterfeit
    Amended Certification of Live Birth — Released — Counterfeit
    Obama/Dunham marriage license — Not released (if one exists)
    Obama/Dunham divorce — Released (by independent investigators)

    Noelani Kindergarten records — Records lost (this is a big one — read two frames)
    Soetoro/Dunham marriage license — Not released
    Soetoro adoption records — Not released

    Fransiskus Assisi School School application — Released (by independent investigators)

    Punahou School application — Missing
    Punahou School records — Not released

    Noelani 3rd Grade records — Not released
    Soetoro/Dunham divorce — Released (by independent investigators)

    Selective Service Registration — Released — Under suspicion

    Social Security Number — Released (by independent investigators) — Under suspicion
    Occidental College records — Not released

    Financial Aid Records — Not released
    Passport — Not released and records scrubbed clean by Obama’s terrorism and intelligence adviser
    Columbia College records — Not released
    Columbia thesis — “Soviet Nuclear Disarmament” — Not released
    Harvard College records — Not released
    Harvard Law Review articles — None

    Illinois Bar Records — Not released
    Baptism certificate — None
    Medical records — Not released — nor is the source of this nasty scar
    Illinois State Senate records — None
    Illinois State Senate schedule — Lost
    Law practice client list — Not released
    University of Chicago scholarly articles — None

    White House Visitors list — The complete list

    The Blagojevich Interview — judge denies access to the FBI report

    The Illinois State Archives told Judicial Watch that they never received any request from Senator Obama to archive any records in his possession. In 2007, Obama told Tim Russert that his records were “not kept.”

    And there’s less on the web every day. In time, the entire Obama body of knowledge will consist of 3 documents — “Dreams From My Father” — “The Audacity of Hope” — and the latest — “Change We Can Believe In” — all written by Barack Hussein Obama or his “ghost-writers.”

    Just an accident? I don’t think so.

    And this is the original list — it has been copied all over the Internet — but this is the original source.

  18. Edward
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    A black man was elected President. Get over it.

  19. Bob
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Gimmie some fruitloops with my tater salad!

  20. Bob
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    And it’s spelled Couric, with a U. Similar to the ones in “numbnut.”

  21. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted March 28, 2011 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    a birther…say no more tater…you are delusional

  22. Posted March 28, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    At least EOS is entertaining sometimes, this Tater guy is just boring.

  23. John Galt
    Posted March 28, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    This would all be moot if we just passed a law requiring non-whites to always have their papers with them, available for inspection as any time by a white member of society.

  24. Wayne Porter
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    as horrible as it is to think, i would prefer to keep hard records of our present and past (what libraries provide) available in case any reason there is need for one. The same goes for radio stations, if the worst were to happen ( natural disaster or global) radio waves would be the best way to communicate. not to mention the wide variety of media that would be lost.

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