A Difference Between Republicans and Me

Both I and most Congressional Republicans want to defund NPR.  Republicans want to do it because they perceive it as a government-funded liberal partisan voice;  I want to do it because broadcasting is simply not a role for government.

But note -- Republicans who want to count coup on NPR out of spite and frustration should recognize that defunding it could very likely make NPR a more, rather than less, potent leftish voice  (insert Star Wars quote "if you strike me down.... yada yada).  NPR's government funding is all that is really keeping it in sight of the political center.  Pull that funding and it will be free to tack left - in fact, this likely will be an imperative given its likely sources of additional private funding it will need.

All of which is fine by me, but I think the Republicans are expecting an Air America-type crash and burn, and I think they are mistaken.  There is a lot about PBS and NPR that are vital and unique -- their supporters are not wrong about that -- which I think will make them viable private (though still non-profit) entities.


  1. Mike C.:

    Well, yes, but that's the whole point. If they thrive, so be it.

    BTW, I never have my car radio tuned to anything other than NPR - only classical stations I can get in VA or TX.

  2. bob sykes:

    Isn't there a long history of lefty radio and TV networks and programs failing because of lack of ad revenues?

  3. Noah:

    With satellite radio in your car, you pay for your addiction to classical music.

  4. Don:

    I actually looked up the numbers on their audit (2008 I think) for some lefty friends and summarized that, NPR could indeed survive with public funding, probably shuttering about 5-10% of stations to make up the loss (they are only about 10% funded by government funds). PBS would be in more dire straights, as they get about 25-30% of funding from the government, but still doable if they added some programming (particularly in prime time) that brought in more and better contributions (rather the frequent CBC and BBC crap that they show).

    As for tacking left, that should be a business decision like any other. If there are more listeners/viewers to the left, then I'd go there myself if I were in charge, regardless of my views. That's appropriate (at least when you're working for your money it is).

  5. Don:

    Oops. "... NPR could indeed survive _without_ public funding..."

    Proof reading apparently is my strong suit today.

  6. aczarnowski:

    We'll see. I'm happy to have .gov out broadcasting for the same reasons you are. But we're also ending our local affiliate PBS sustaining membership because, while they do things that are important and unique, the kinds of pledge levels they need are ridiculous on a pure value-add basis.

    We looked at our charity budget for 2011 and decided TPT didn't deserve more money than our yearly basic cable bill. They'll still get a donation, but it'll be a single smaller check when we decide to write it.

    And I'll also mention the left lean was a factor for me, if not for my wife. So there's a bit of an Air-America ingredient too.

    Good luck to NPR and PBS in the competitive marketplace.

  7. TJIC:

    NPR is not 10% funded by the gov - it's 50%.

    The dodge that the socialists use is to pay fed money to the CPB, which gives it to the local affiliates, which then pay NPR.

    If done by the free market, leftists would call that "a shadowy nest of interlocking private interests"...but since gov money and leftist ideas are involved, it's all "public service".

    Like Coyote, I expect a defunded NPR to tack left. Still, that's fine - I have no idea with private radio stations having outrageous editorial positions. I detest being forced to subsidize those opinions w my paycheck, though.

  8. Dan:

    yes, let them compete on a level playing field so we can watch them crash and burn! and chuckle about it after the fact.

  9. DrTorch:

    I'm sure some republicans believe the way you described it. But not all. I don't think it's fair to paint them w/ such a broad brush.

  10. Chuck:

    I think the Republicans are motivated by the desire to remove public support from a biased news outlet, but I think they would be happy if that results in NPR moving further to the left.

    The problem, as they see it, is that a somewhat biased news source with government support can appear centrist and therefore influence moderates and independents. An even more left-leaning NPR with support from far left sources would be better at preaching to the left, but would lose influence on the middle. Which is exactly what Republicans want.

  11. Kevin Jackson:

    I think this is a pretty broad generalization of Republicans. Most articles I've read that reference this issue see it as a budget matter: funding NPR is wasteful spending that can be eliminated. I have yet to read anything that suggests NPR will crash and burn without funding, as most people recognize that its white urban audience has the funds to support it.

  12. Evil Red Scandi:

    Chuck nailed it - there are plenty of people out there who equate "national" and "public" with "honest" and "unbiased" (silly bastards).

  13. Noah:

    NPR is a money laundering operation much like public employee union dues going to Democratic politicians who bargain with the unions.

    NPR national gets little direct Federal money. NPR local station get much of their funding from the Feds. The local stations then buy programs from NPR national so lots of Federal money laundered by the locals gets to NPR national.

    PBS and NPR go their start in the 1960s because of limited access and choice to national news and events. With the advent of satellite TV and radio, access is no longer an issue.

  14. stan:

    I don't think you have a clue what "Republicans" think about NPR. Why would the GOP be concerned about another extreme left wing news source? Really.

    I realize that you construction of this straw man allows you to impugn both the motives and the judgment of 'Republicans'. Enjoy yourself.

  15. caseyboy:

    I heard they were recruiting Rush and Beck.

  16. SkepticalCynical:

    I'm just happy to have the government out of broadcasting, whatever the consequences. I was listening to NPR opine yesterday about how the loss of public funds would jeopardize "independent and unbiased reporting". Because, you know, nothing quite screams "independent" like state-run media.

    For progressives, the dream of journalists who collude with policy makers to wisely shape public opinion in desirable ways goes all the way back to Walter Lippmann (maybe further, who knows). Privatizing NPR/PBS is opposed - despite the likely commercial success of an independent NPR, as Coyote says - because it represents the death of this dream.

  17. Henry Bowman:

    Well, inasmuch as the taxpayers have funded a non-trivial portion of NPR and PBS for decades, the U.S. government should have a significant ownership stake in the enterprise. I don't quite understand how CPB is organized, but if it starts making money, we should get a cut.

  18. ruralcounsel:

    Well, you may be right about freeing up NPR to be as Leftist as it would really like to be.

    But on the bright side, the liberals will have to endure even more of those awful pledge drives, and we won't have to listen to the complete lie about how "impartial" NPR is.

  19. Foxfier:

    This republican is tired of paying for liberal propaganda.

    I don't mind at all that it's out there, it's the charging me and claiming it's somehow mainstream that's annoying.

    As a kid, we donated to NPR because our station had classical music. I've only heard the one here a few times, and it's always some misleading ignorant drivel that my sister could fact-check away. (My sister is not of a scholarly bend.)

    Instead, there's a nonprofit classical station-- http://www.king.org ! Love them, support them!-- that's a joy.

    I could probably be talked into supporting NPR if they got rid of the "news" and started doing just lots of the stuff that made them great-- Masterpiece Theater, Mystery!, NOVA, concerts, kid shows. Fill the extra space with re-runs. Off a streaming service. For crying out loud, put some of the old stuff on Netflix! I would LOVE to be able to watch the Sesame Streets from when I was a kid, and I'd gladly pay ten bucks a month to stream such a thing.

  20. Dr. T:

    "... There is a lot about PBS and NPR that are vital and unique..."

    Neither is vital. Our success, happiness, safety, health, or wealth do not depend upon either entity. Neither is unique. Other radio stations have served up fare similar to NPR. The fact that most of them failed indicates that NPR will die quickly without federal funding. PBS is a poor excuse for a TV network. If it loses federal funding, my guess is that it will fold, though the rights to some of its more popular shows probably will be purchased by other networks or stations.

    In both cases, even if there were enough public demand to support them without government funding, they still will fail because their management and employees suffer from the government worker mindset. They would not know how to operate effectively in a competitive, free market environment.

  21. txjim:

    lol Are you shitting me? I've known they were leftards for 30 years so they won't hurt my feelings by making it official.

  22. John Moore:

    Why do you keep imagining you know how Republicans think when you obviously don't? Why do you paint with such a broad brush?

    If Republican were as you mischaracterize us, we would be trying to get government funding for Fox or some right wing outlet.

    The most important difference between Republicans and Libertarians is that we consider solutions that can happen in the real world, while Libertarians imagine nonsense like opening our borders to anyone - a position that not only would wreck the country for Libertarians, among others, but would never get more than a few votes.

  23. me:

    LOL - yeah, right when the defunding news first broke, they were running commentary on that right beside the commercial that said that NPR was funded to more than 80% by viewers like me. Which seemed like a rather obvious demonstration that government funding wasn't really needed to me. Great reason to defund.

    That said, on the issues of what my tax dollars are spent on that I don't want to spend on, this is a drop in the bucket. Reps on this thread will hate me for pointing out that we're wasting billions on wars and committing war crimes half a world away, Dem wills react strongly to me pointing out that I have no wish to pay for inefficient social security and healthcare programs, especially given that they are doomed by default. Libertarians will nod their heads and probably add another few line items about the threshold. Wish there were more of you guys out there.

  24. PapaMAS:

    I agree da gubment should not be in broadcasting. If some Republicans (or others) find NPR a common target for their own reasons, fine, that is our system working as the founders intended. They may or may not be able to stand on their own (probably not, but, I don't care as long it is their own money, not mine). I just can't buy that NPR would then tack left as they would be unrestrained. They have been as far left as you can get without actually coming out and saying, "Hey! We're commies and proud of it!" seemingly forever.