|Courtesy of PBS|
The whole argument defund NPR and PBS (both funded federally by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) has been a conservative rallying cry for years. Unfortunately, to understand the recent unpleasantness surrounding the current push to completely remove funds for public broadcasting, you have to start with the Juan Williams incident... I know, please bear with me a moment.
I'm sure you've already heard all the complaints from the right regarding Juan Williams' firing from NPR in October for comments he made on Bill O'Reilly's opinion show. Certainly there are those who claim he was unjustly fired and I just don't feel their pain, nor Williams' subsequent 2 Million hardship payout he received after being immediately hired by Fox News. He's not a dyed in the wool news person, he's an opinionator and he belongs amongst those who do that for a living.
For years his numerous bigoted comments have riled those at NPR and for good cause. It's never been about conservative talking points, but more about his insensitive personal viewpoints that have gotten him into trouble. Then the real question becomes, when did bigoted speech become the domain of the conversvative movement and/or the Republican party? They were so ready to pounce on this story and defend his first amendment right to free-speech. So does this mean that those who go on the air to bring us the news should always include a commentator who's expected to portray an intolerant and opinionated perspective?
It appears that bigotry is now a conservative value. I never thought that was the case, but if you feel Williams' prejudiced remarks are something you support, then it's pretty obvious your intolerance is showing... you might want to tuck that in.
What came next was Jim DeMint's introduction of a bill to "Defund NPR and PBS" which was vigorously supported in the media by Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, also known as Williams' fellow employees at Fox News. No surprise there. All this hubbub came to the fore yesterday as the House voted to remove federal funding of CPB for this fiscal year. In all honesty, I'm not so much concerned about the funding going away (it still has to pass the Senate, then again be voted on as a joint bill, then the President would have to approve it), I'm more concerned about a looming federal shut-down over the $60 billion in cuts the Republican's have proposed. Maybe they're just upset because public broadcasting isn't funded by huge corporate entities providing commercials and such... I mean, what incentive do they have to care about this service if there's no way their corporate cronies can make money from it?
The thing that upsets me the most though, is that there are literally millions of conservative, independent and liberal Americans who listen to NPR and watch PBS every single day. How would it make conservative presidential and congressional candidates running in 2012 look if all fingers were pointed at them for taking away Sesame Street? Without even looking at the gross waste going on via Defense spending, why isn't anything being done to curb the $10 Billion going to subsidies for petroleum products? Sounds much more wasteful than the $420 Million going to fund CPB or the $317 Million for Title X funding or $17 Million for Planned Parenthood funding. So bigotry and sexism are also conservative values...
The last time I checked, a vast majority of the programing both media formats broadcast has little to do with politics and when it does, I can't recall I time they didn't present BOTH SIDES of a story. If you can name me a national news entity that provides educational commentary, news and entertainment that is less biased than NPR or PBS, please point that out for us the blindly ignorant faithful. What's even more frustrating is that all these folks that protest this funding are so far-right leaning that ANY news next to Fox's broadcasts looks like liberal mainstream media. The 120 million that listen or watch every day can't collectively be that liberal, or is it that the opposition is just that conservative?
Here are a few things we either never would have had or would miss if our national public media resources disappeared tomorrow (time broadcasting):
- The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross (12 years).
- A Prairie Home Compainion (35 years).
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (30+ years).
- All Things Considered (40 years).
- Sesame Street (41 years).
- Car Talk (34 years).
- Frontline ... featuring an exclusive documentary on the Egyptian revolution, airing this Tuesday, filmed from within Tahrir Square (27 years).
- Masterpiece (Theatre) (40 years).
- Morning Edition (32 years).
- Austin City Limits (36 years).
- Fresh Air with Terry Gross (35 years).
- Nova (36 years).
And many more...
The list above is not chock full of political banter, opinion or angry speech, nor are these programs recent additions to public broadcasting; these are institutions of learning, science, culture and art, not merely a political platform from which the government spews propaganda. Public broadcasting has survived for over 40 years and through 5 Republican presidencies that didn't deem it unnecessary. What about all those Americans who can't afford cable, so it's their only source of entertainment? Or how about those who watch PBS because it's one of the only wholesome and educational resources left on TV?
Apparently, idiocy too is a conservative value.
You can support Public Broadcasting and the fight against eradicating it's funding below:
In his free time, Warren writes a blog about American Culture and Politics at Auspicious Scuttlebutt.