Should NPR and PBS Continue to Get Federal Funding?

-By Warner Todd Huston

Everyone is talking about the situation that commentator Juan Williams found himself in when National Public Radio fired him over comments he made on Fox News about Muslims. And whether you think Williams’s situation was properly handled or not, a second discussion has been raised in conjunction with it: the propriety of federal funding of NPR and PBS.

On the funding issue, no more convoluted argument about the necessity of federal money being spent on NPR can be found than an article that appeared in the New York Daily News penned by the executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, Michael Meyers. His op ed stood four-square in favor of continued federal funding of public radio and public television but his reason was simply illogical and impossible to understand.

Saying that those that support Juan Williams’s supporters, “vindictively want to totally de-fund the left-leaning NPR” because of Williams’s firing. He felt that those that want to take away federal funding from NPR are making a “big mistake.”

But check out the absurd reasoning why he thinks this:

There ought to be uninterrupted public dollars in support of public radio. Withdrawal of public dollars would raise the specter of official censorship and selective bans on “objectionable ideas,? and that would only strangle independent voices on public radio, and on public television as well.

You read that right. NOT funding something equals “censorship.” To this Meyers fellow, no involvement in something means you are somehow censoring it. Following this man’s insane logic, then, if someone doesn’t buy a book, for instance, that someone would be against all ideas.

The fact is not participating in something is to allow it to flourish or perish on its own accord. But put simply non-participation is not necessarily either an opinion for or against a thing. It is mere removal from, not active quashing of a thing.

Oh, but he isn’t done with his utter dearth of sense.

And once a precedent is set for governmental intrusiveness — and for swaying public and corporate support away from the radio network over its “bad? personnel decisions — you can be sure there will be plenty of other pressure brought when the same or other officials object to the radio execs’ program choices — including programming that is deemed “unfair” or biased toward the party in power of the government or “offensive” to legislators’ core constituencies.

This is insensible. If the government simply defunds NPR and then has no further input, then there is no “intrusiveness,” there is no “pressure” being brought down on any radio executive’s heads for decisions made. Defunding necessarily removes the government’s heavy hand in any matters of station operations.

And yet this Meyers persists in his absurd claim that defunding brings government intrusion.

Giving programmatic vetoes to politicians’ constituencies will amp up the list of demands and conditions for government funding and thereby change, neuter and defeat the independence of public radio. Making program and personnel decisions around various ethnic groups’ passions and preferences is a door to chaos, not artistic freedom, satire, or unfettered expression.

Again, no, no, no. Defunding takes away any power that politicians have on programming. And since when was government funding in a democracy the sole guarantee of “artistic freedom”? With government money comes government control! I contend that with federal money comes the strings the federal government puts on that funding.

He wraps this completely untenable position up with a last illogical thrust.

De-funding will only encourage other special interest and pressure groups to emerge and seek de-funding of the programs and ideas they, too, find “offensive” or unbalanced.

So now he uses the “slipepry slope” argument? If we defund NPR suddenly that means we MUST end up defunding, say, Social Security, or welfare? Come on. What Twilight Zone episode did this man walk out of?

NPR and PBS should both immediately be denuded of federal financial support. If these stations are to succeed let them do so in the market place as does every other entertainment venture. And please stop my tax dollars from supporting programs that I think are essentially un-American. If liberals like Michael Meyers want to keep NPR and PBS alive, let him pay his money toward its support. But let me keep my money away from this often anti-American enterprise.

In the end, here, Juan Williams is right about one thing. As he hosted Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show on the evening of Oct. 22 Williams said that he finally realized that the left is wholly intolerant of any opposing views. As if on cue Rob “Meathead” Reiner said on a panel show with the mirth-free Bill Maher that all “Tea Baggers” are just like Hitler.

Yeah, there’s that sort of lefty “tolerance” that Michael Meyers wants to continue funding with my tax dollars.

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