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February 15, 2011

NPR To Obama: Hey Thanks For Believing In Us With All That Money In Your Budget

I bet you can count on hard hitting pieces from NPR on the Obama administration soon. Any. Day. Now. Of course, that's the problem with government funded media...do we know NPR's coverage of Obama, the GOP and the budget battles won't be shaded by their vested interest it?

"Public broadcasting received a vote of confidence today from the Obama Administration," NPR said in a statement Monday. "The President's FY 2012 budget submission to Congress included $451 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for the two year advance appropriation for FY 2014, an increase of $6 million over FY 2013 funding."

Vivian Schiller, the head of NPR -- and focus of much controversy over the firing last year of commentator Juan Williams -- released a statement saying she is "grateful to the Obama Administration for recognizing the importance of public radio to the life of communities across the nation."

"At a time when our country is confronting many difficult challenges," Schiller said, "public broadcasting is providing an essential service by informing and educating 170 million Americans every month. This mission is more relevant than ever."

To govern is to choose. Obama chose to increase funding for a radio network that could not (or at least, will not) compete in the open market for financial support. They then feel free to mock and attack many of the people who pay the bills.

This is just more proof that Obama isn't serious about the budget. He gave them more money when Stringer herself admits public funding isn't all that important to NPR.

Q: Could NPR live without federal funding?

A: Letís go on a sidebar. Thereís a misperception about federal funding and public radio. Thereís the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They receive $90 million a year and a vast majority goes to member public radio stations. Those stations pull in more than $1 billion collectively a year. Itís significant and important but not even close to the lionís share of revenues for public radio. NPR gets no allocation from CPB. Zero. We are a private 501(c)3. Weíve had journalists call up and ask what department of the government we report to. Thatís laughable. Have you listened to our shows? We do apply for competitive grants from the likes of the Ford Foundation and the Knight Foundation. As a result, some money from CPB does come to us when we win grants. Depending on the year, it represents just one to three percent of our total budget.

There's no need for the government to be subsidizing a highly partisan 'news' network. If the product they produce is as good as they seem to think it is, they will have no trouble raising the money on their own.

Will defunding public broadcasting put a dent in the deficit or debt? No, of course not but as I wrote when the Juan Williams story broke...

Will this be uniformly popular with voters? No, but it will be a good test to find out if the message of this election is that people are ready to deal with the economic facts of life this country is facing. If the GOP canít get this done and voters tell them not to do it, then thereís no real point in even dreaming about real cuts and reform. Better to find out early where things stand.

To govern is to choose. What will the GOP choose?


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posted by DrewM. at 11:02 AM

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