By Tim Graham and Geoffrey Dickens
On February 19, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a party-line vote of 235 to 189 for a continuing resolution that included zeroing out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s advance appropriation for Fiscal Year 2013. This package was not approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate, but it was the first time in the decades since the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 that the House voted to defund CPB, and it will not be the last.
On September 29, House Republican appropriators proposed a bill that would eliminate taxpayer subsidies for the CPB starting in 2014. (Money is allocated for the agency two years in advance.) Fiscally, it's an obviously non-essential expense in an era of trillion-dollar deficits – not to mention hundreds of programming choices on cable TV, the Internet, and satellite radio.
Despite their press-release boilerplate that they are a “smart and careful investment” and a “successful example of a vital public-private partnership,” the CPB (which in turn, funds PBS and NPR) is an obviously non-essential federal expense in an era of trillion-dollar deficits. In television terms, the technological rationale of providing diversity in a three-network universe no longer applies – not when the public can find hundreds of programming choices on cable TV, the Internet, and satellite radio.
But there is another reason for defunding: the absolute refusal of the taxpayer-funded public-broadcasting empire to provide balance and fair access to all sides of the political debate. Instead, the CPB makes no attempt whatsoever to rein in PBS and NPR programmers as they lurch hard to the left.
In exchange for the long-standing tilt of public broadcasting, liberal politicians have reliably voted and lobbied for CPB funding increases, and liberal activists have rallied to “save” their subsidies. They often accuse conservatives of trying to destroy children’s educational programming. Before the House vote, liberals posed with the PBS cartoon character Arthur the Aardvark. "We need your help today,” pleaded Rep. Ed Markey. “We can’t leave Arthur and all of his pals in the lurch.”
But with the resurgence of a threat to their subsidies, PBS worked hand in glove and explicitly thanked the hard-left activists of MoveOn.org and FreePress against a defunding push from conservatives. The PBS Twitter feed carried the message: “A special thanks to @moveon for its help and support this week.”
MoveOn’s online petition insisted: “Congress must protect NPR and PBS and guarantee them permanent funding, free from political meddling.” Liberals suggest “public” broadcasting should be hermetically sealed from any attempt to question the fairness and accuracy of what PBS and NPR put on the air. It's considering “meddling” to try and enforce the spirit of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which required “fairness and objectivity in all programming of a controversial nature.” It’s “meddling” for members of Congress to question whether public-broadcasting subsidies are being well-spent -- hence the long-standing liberal call for "permanent" funding, as in some form of huge endowment that cannot be affected by Congress.
To underline how dramatically PBS and NPR have tried to shift the political discussion to the left, Media Research Center analysts have assembled a list of the most obnoxiously biased stories or statements from public broadcasting stars and stories over the last 25 years.
Despite the self-image of PBS and NPR journalists that their networks are an oasis of civility and political independence, there are too many examples of vicious death wishes and political smears; bracing hostility to Christianity and blatant celebration of abortion and homosexuality; and perhaps most dismaying, anti-military attitudes and jarring adoration of some of America’s oppressive enemies. Unlike NPR’s unceremonious firing of Juan Williams last year, none of these offenses ever resulted in punishment.
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