NPR was in the crosshairs again this month as an independent "sting" operation, conducted by a controversial media activist, revealed just how arrogant and politically partisan the taxpayer-funded broadcast service really is.
Regardless of the amount of taxpayer funding NPR and her sister PBS-TVreceives - which is more than $450 million annually - it's time to pull the plug on public-funding of public broadcasting. If public broadcasting must serve a purpose in news and entertainment, fine - but let it stand or fall on it's own legs, like the rest of the news and broadcasting industry.
NPRCEOVivian Schiller resigned last week after her colleague, RonSchiller (no relation), sputtered offensive things about Republicans and the Tea Party during the undercover luncheon stingby James O'Keefe, whose operatives posed as potential radical Muslim donors.
As a result, both Schillers resigned in a nasty week of multiple black eyes for American public broadcasting. And it was CEOSchiller who took the biggest sword fall. Ah, but let's not stop the NPR/PBSself sacrificing there. Congress needs to defund all of public broadcasting - immediately. How can public broadcasting ever recover from repeated examples of flagrant arrogance, rabid partisanship, and ineptitude?
Vivian Schiller, you may recall, was instrumental in the firing of reporter Juan Williams last October. Williams' firing was seen as unfair by most of the public. The amiable Williams was sacked after making innocent, on-air remarks about his personal fear of Muslim terrorism while traveling. The Williams affair was just one of a growing list of public broadcasting gaffs that pointed to its irritatingly biased way of managing and reporting the national news. Is it any wonder many fair-minded voters want to stop their support of the "enterprise"?
Last week's NPR sting made for the perfect storm on the issue of public broadcasting, a storm that has many legislators - and many could-care-less, non-artsy taxpayers - wondering if PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are worth the nearly $450 million in federal funding they received last year.
Despite the mandate of the November 2010 election to reign in government spending and get hold of the ever-spiraling federal deficit, we learn that President Obama still wants to increase the amount for public broadcasting to $451 million. What doesn't the president understand about the results of the November election? Many of the voters are fed up - and then some - with our government funding everything from recreational bicycle paths to humorist Garrison Keillor's radio frolics.
NPR and PBS may serve a narrow audience with its arts and cultural programming, but the time of continued public funding of the operations appears at an end. Public radio is a luxury the taxpayer can't afford anymore. Besides, there are far too many worthier public efforts that have already received, or are about to receives, the axe.
Also, when hard-working taxpayers hear that that many high-level public broadcasting officials (like Vivian Schiller) receive annual salaries in excess of $100,000, it's hard to muster sympathy for continued public funding of things like "Sesame Street" or "All Things Considered."
Here's our vote on the public broadcasting debate:Either reform NPR and PBS to be inclusive of more broadly public views and issues or simply do without the assistance of we the taxpayers.
Can NPR and PBS survive on their own? Sure they can. Welcome to the world of private-sector news gathering, where we all compete, sink or swim on the merits of our products and creativity. Not to fear - there's still billionaire George Soros and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation to help out with the shortfall. And instead of Pledge Week - how does Pledge Month grab you?