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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why I Stopped Contributing to Public Radio

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” — Thomas Jefferson

For years I was a loyal contributor to National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). I did this for several reasons. One, I liked that I could hear programs like “All Things Considered” and “The Morning Edition” anywhere I went in the country. During my travels I could always find the familiar voices of NPR to keep me company on my drives and in hotel rooms. In that the NPR stations were broadcast on the FM band the reception and audio quality was always clear, not like the scratchy, unreliable tones of the AM band.

The second reason was that PBS offered shows like “Washington Week in Review” along with concerts and documentaries. These programs were not available on commercial broadcast TV. I especially enjoyed the historical documentaries such as Ken Burns Civil War series.

Thirdly, I supported one particular NPR station in the Los Angeles area, KPPC in Pasadena because it carried the German-American program for three hours every Saturday morning. At the time I was learning German and the host, Tibor Paul, would speak in German for much of the program. He also played traditional and popular German music, which I enjoy.

Over the years as cable TV became more diverse and satellite radio came on the scene I began to wean away from NPR and PBS. It seemed as though every time I tuned into the local PBS channel there was a pledge drive in progress, something that began to annoy me to no end.

I also began to notice a distinct left-wing bias in the reporting from NPR. They would select interviews and news clips that more and more fit their liberal bias. I was not getting the full story and my support began to dwindle. This was evident in their correspondents, such as Nina Totenberg, Bob Edwards and Bill Moyers — they were out and out lefties.

With the advent of the cable news shows, especially FOX, and talk radio on XM and Cirrus satellite radio I totally stopped my support of NPR and PBS. I now had alternative sources of news, opinion, music and history. I did not have to watch PBS for documentaries that were at times very slanted towards the left. I had the History Channel and the Discovery Channel.

One of the main reasons for the federal support of NPR, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was that in rural markets across the land the folks did not have the same options for news and entertainment that the people in the large urban markets had. This is where the CPB came in with providing federal funds for these local stations for studios, broadcast equipment and salaries.

NPR’s supporters argue that what it provides is not “media,” but news and journalism that consumers would otherwise be unable to find anywhere. NPR itself does not receive any direct federal funding, but its supporters howl whenever Republicans try to defund the CPB, because 40 percent of NPR’s revenues come from station programming fees, and many of its member stations, especially in rural areas, are dependent on CPB largesse. In this sense, NPR is sort of like Amtrak: Self-sufficient in urban areas where it has lots of listeners but dependent on taxpayer subsidies to broadcast its programming nationwide.

Over the years I became more and more disenchanted with NPR and PBS. I did not want my tax dollars supporting opinions and journalists I did not agree with or like. I believed that state sponsored radio and TV was a danger to our liberty and the Republic. If these stations were so popular they could stand on their own in a free market the way commercial radio and television does. If listeners in Dubuque want NPR content, let them pay for it. I am tired of kicking in contributions so that coastal liberalism may find an audience in Ogallala. NPR offers some fine programs, but it is towering arrogance to imply, as some supporters of public funding do, that residents of Big Sky would be left stranded on an island of ignorance if forced to do without Morning Edition. If it’s really that important to them, they can increase their yearly contributions to Yellowstone Public Radio. If not, why should taxpayers in other parts of the country make up the shortfall?

Lately NPR and CPB have relied more and more on grants from corporations and foundations. They claim that less than 3 percent of their direct funding (about $400 million) stems from the federal government. They play down the fact that 42 percent comes from stations, which get support from the CPB. Two of the major are Joan Kroc Legacy Society and the George Soros funded Open Society Foundation just gave $1.8 million to pay for at least 100 journalists at NPR-member radio stations in all 50 states over the next three years.

The recent firing of one of their news analysts, Juan Williams, for his comments on the Fox News Channel, has created a fire storm of resentment against NPR and PBS. Williams made a comment on the Bill O’Reilly show to the effect that he became anxious when he saw people dressed in Muslim garb boarding a plane with him. Williams later emphasized in the segment that a distinction needed to be made between “moderate” and “extremist” Muslims. But left-wing bloggers, the P.C. police and Fox-hating organizations weren’t listening. The granddaddy of all grievance-mongers, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, pressured NPR to “address” Williams’ feelings. CAIR, of course, is notorious for “addressing” its talk-radio and TV critics — from the late Paul Harvey to Dr. Laura to scholar Daniel Pipes — by launching relentless witch hunts to kick dissenters off the air. Soon after he made these comments he was terminated by NPR. You can read my full blog on this issue by clicking here.

The granddaddy of all grievance-mongers and one of the most dangerous organizations in the United States along with the ACLU, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, pressured NPR to “address” Williams’ feelings. CAIR, of course, is notorious for “addressing” its talk-radio and TV critics — from the late Paul Harvey to Dr. Laura to scholar Daniel Pipes — by launching relentless witch hunts to kick dissenters off the air.

NPR accused Williams of undermining its credibility. But vindictive CEO Vivian Schiller and her colleagues had no problems with NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg publicly wishing for the late GOP senator Jesse Helms to die a painful AIDS-induced death to NPR-affiliate employee Sarah Spitz pining for radio giant Rush Limbaugh’s death on a journalists’ e-mail list.

If this wasn’t enough upon summarily firing Williams for violating the public radio station’s “editorial standards,” Schiller appeased the leftist mob by shamelessly attacking Williams’ mental health. At an Atlanta Press Club event, the former CNN and New York Times executive said Williams “should have kept his feeling about Muslims between himself and his psychiatrist or his publicist.”

The correspondents on left wing blogs have been rummaging through the dusty closets of their respective brains to find new justifications for NPR's self-destructive sacking of Juan Williams. One such correspondent on a Media Matters (Hilary Clintons’ favorite web site) blog came up with the following:  "If somebody on TV said, ‘Hey, every time I see a bunch of Black guys walking down the street, I get afraid....' then that would be clear bigotry. Everyone would see it."

A few years ago, the right reverend Jesse Jackson had this to say: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." This is the same Jesse Jackson, of course, who once said, "That's all Hymie wants to talk about is Israel. Every time you go to Hymietown that's all they want to talk about."

Maybe I missed something, but I do not recall NPR ever banning Jackson from its airwaves.  The reason why is simple enough.  Jackson is not only more politically reliable than Williams, but he is also more politically useful.  NPR apparently has little use for a black man who is not easily exploited.

If NPR wants to behave like every other liberal news organization, complete with a slavish obeisance to left-wing pressure groups, fine. Those organizations don’t rely on taxpayer funding, and neither should NPR.

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