Welfare for Public Radio; It's Time to Pull the Plug on NPR Subsidy
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
National Public Radio's President and Chief Executive Vivian Schiller gushed over President Obama's proposed budget, which preserved the funding for public broadcasting that House Republicans would just as soon cut. In expressing her gratitude to the White House, Ms. Schiller helped Republicans make their case.
Last week, House Republicans formally proposed zeroing out the $531 million federal subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), much of which is used to fund NPR stations and programming. Mr. Obama countered in his budget proposal with proposed increases in CPB funding out to 2014. NPR rushed out a statement praising the vote of confidence from the Obama administration, claiming that public broadcasting is providing an essential service by informing and educating 170 million Americans every month, a mission it claims is more relevant than ever.
Ms. Schiller's love letter to the partisan, leftist Obama administration only served to reinforce the argument against such funding. NPR has faced growing criticism for bias in its news operations. This issue was brought dramatically into focus in October when NPR summarily fired longtime commentator Juan Williams for making allegedly anti-Muslim comments while appearing on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor. This maladroit move was followed in January by the forced resignation of NPR's senior vice president for news, Ellen Weiss, who had axed Mr. Williams. Now a grateful Ms. Schiller is calling into question her organization's ability to engage in critical coverage of the Obama White House or to give a fair shake to Republican leaders who want to end public broadcasting's federal free ride.
Ms. Schiller has inadvertently drawn attention to the central point of the controversy. Public broadcasting cannot simultaneously be a creature of the state and serve the necessary Fourth-Estate function as a government watchdog. …