Opinion

Editorial

Time to Pull the Plug on NPR

While it may seem outwardly risky to support one’s argument with statements made by Ron Schiller — this is, after all, the man who described Tea Party members as “not just Islamaphobic, but xenophobic … seriously racist people” — we’re going to do it anyway.
While it was Schiller, National Public Radio’s now former senior vice president for development (he was abruptly fired for those comments and others exposed in a hidden video sting) who said NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding,” he’s certainly not the only one saying such things. And we agree wholeheartedly.
The rhetoric is picking up as the public broadcasting industry wages an all out, almost desperate, campaign to save its federal allowance, which amounts to about $430 million a year for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), of which NPR receives about $5 million. Schiller and others say that NPR can easily survive without the federal dollars. More to the point, it should.
Why? There are a host of reasons, not the least of which is paring the federal deficit, and there are myriad ways to allocate precious funds more responsibly than handing them over to those running public broadcasting facilities and earning six-figure salaries to boot. But those aren’t the best reasons.
Simply put, when government subsidizes the media, any media, it also exercises a measure of control, or influence, over that media, which is something Americans don’t want and don’t need. Over the years, NPR, and local public broadcasting in general, has become a haven for left-wing radical ideologues spewing out anti-business rhetoric.
Without public funding, NPR could operate, theoretically at least, without politics always being the elephant in the room. Looking at things another way, it wouldn’t have to spend time, money, and political capital every year to save its budget.
From our view, NPR, and public broadcasting as a whole, would be better off — much better off — without its public subsidies, but no one in that industry (save for Ron Shiller) will say that out loud.
Call it tough love if you will, but Congress has to cut public broadcasting loose and let it try to survive without its security blanket, our tax dollars. And it will survive, and do just fine, without federal money — and the scrutiny and cynicism that comes along with it.
And as for public television, people should be upset about facilities like Boston’s WGBH’s headquarters, an $85 million multi-media palace dubbed the “Taj Majal,” and the dozen people inside making more than $200,000 a year. Should our tax dollars be subsidizing these edifices of government-funded excesses? We think not.
To go back to where we started, Schiller is right on the money — not about Tea Party members, but about public broadcasting. It would be better off not being on the dole, and so would the people who watch and listen to it.
Will government cut the cord? We hope so.

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