Republican members of Congress who’ve led the charge to defund the CPB often sidestep the glaring issue of leftist bias, insisting instead that the rationale for defunding is that NPR and PBS have strong, attractive brands that can survive without federal support. By contrast, Democrats have long sounded an ideological alarm in defense of its own territory.
Back in 1995, PBS president Ervin Duggan had planted the thought that the Republicans were “pimps of privatization.” In a speech before the National Press Club, Duggan declared that “ideologues” should not be allowed to privatize public broadcasting: “Cooler heads must prevail. We must think about this before we commit a kind of murder.” But if privatization is equivalent to murder, then public broadcasting marinates in a very strong statist ideology.
Because of its taxpayer subsidies and its ideological stance expressing horror at commercial TV and radio, it’s politically natural that public broadcasting would become a liberal playground, omitting conservative stars and programs. Careful analysis of PBS and NPR content from news executives or CPB officials could offset this tilt, and create a fairer, more balanced set of networks with bipartisan support.
But all the evidence since passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 shows that the idea of any official seeking balance is strictly forbidden. Instead, long-standing CPB policy holds that Congress should be ignored and walled off from raising any objections about bias. In 2005, CPB chairman Kenneth Tomlinson resigned under controversy for daring to attempt a secret analysis of PBS and NPR content.
Defunding CPB would not stop liberal bias, since the NPR and PBS networks are well-entrenched and would continue, even after defunding. But denying taxpayer dollars would stop the outrage of conservatives (and Americans in general) being forced to fund fervent attacks on them and their preciously held beliefs with their own hard-earned pay.
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