NEA: Preserving Perversion's Heritage
by L. Brent Bozell III
September 18, 1997
The Senate, to no one's surprise, couldn't muster the guts
to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. Once again, a worthless and
arrogant federal agency can thank its publicists in the national media. A few
weeks back, one such propagandist, CBS's Martha Teichner, took to her
"Sunday Morning" soap box to denounce the defunding campaign as
"an annual congressional blood sport." Even if the Senate voted to
save the NEA, conservatives in the House would "take another whack"
at NEA funding.
Words have meaning, and Teichner clearly was attempting to
package the conservatives as militant, ruthless savages. And to underscore
that point, she brought in liberal spokesmen to say exactly that.
Obnoxious actor Alec Baldwin (blandly labeled as "President of the
advocacy group the Creative Coalition") snarled: "Gingrich can beat
the crap out of the artistic community -- because they're powerless and they
don't defend themselves - and then go back into the valley and go 'Uhh! Uhh!
Uhh!' And hold the bloody head in his hand. And they'll all go 'Uhh! Uhh! Uhh!
Uhh!' And be happy. That's what it's all about."
With that wholly unchallenged broadside as an introduction,
Teichner allowed Newt Gingrich to explain that 140 congressional districts get
no NEA grants. (In fact, over the last ten years, one-third of NEA grants have
gone to just five cities.) But the Speaker's attempt at rational dialogue went
nowhere: a philistine caveman is a philistine caveman.
Teichner raced over allegations of mismanagement and
financial sloppiness: "For Representative Peter Hoekstra, wastefulness is
an issue." For a rebuttal, she aired a sentence from NEA boss Jane
Alexander's House testimony about the NEA spending $21,000 per employee on
computers: "This is our whole information management system and our
grants management system." If Teichner punted the opportunity to expose
Baldwin's radicalism, now she was simply disregarding her responsibility to
point out Alexander's distortions.
Like? Like the NEA Inspector General's report from March
1993 found 57 percent of NEA's reported grants projects costs were not
reconcilable with accounting records; 74 percent of personnel costs charged to
grant projects were not supported by adequate documentation; and 79 percent of
required independent audits were not in compliance with Office of Management
and Budget guidelines for federal grants. But none of this came out.
The most ridiculous part of Teichner's report was her
dismissal of the obscenity issue
which she dismissed as "the all-time favorite, the one
that won't go away." Teichner aired another clip of Alexander's
testimony: "I think that the National Endowment for the Arts record
should speak for itself, Congressman, in that what is little known is that out
of the 112,000 grants that we've made in our 32-year history only about 45
have caused some problems for people. Now that is if you look at the ratio,
that's a pretty good success ratio."
Again, not true. Any reporter following both sides of this
story would know that. Teichner could have pointed out conservatives have
piled up hundreds of individual examples, almost all of which have been
ignored by the media. And they can't be stopped: last November, a federal
court ruled guidelines calling for "general standards of decency" in
grantmaking was "unconstitutional."
Nor are these grants an accident. Jane Alexander told the
gay-left magazine The Advocate she intended to use the NEA to "introduce
people gently to gay themes across the country." When asked "What
sorts of grants would you reject out of hand," Alexander answered:
"It's hard to say at this point if there is any grant that I might
NEA critic Laurence Jarvik has his own favorite recent
example: a recent New York Times report on the Franklin Furnace, the notorious
New York "avant-garde center" frequented by porn star Annie Sprinkle
and other pornographic performance artists. The center is selling its real
estate for $500,000 to match a half-million dollar challenge grant from the
NEA. With that load of money, they plan to create a video archive of all the
notorious Franklin Furnace routines and post it on the Internet. It will
include hundreds of performances like Tim Miller discussing his sex life naked
on stage, and Karen Finley smearing her bare breasts with chocolate, all
carefully catalogued and placed upon the World Wide Web, for the world to see.
Oh, the irony of it all, which Teichner could have seen were
she not so blinded by ideology: While Bill Clinton earnestly claims his
opposition to cyberpron, Jane Alexander's NEA is funding it.
Voice Your Opinion!
Write to Brent Bozell
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe