Peter Funt Peter Funt, 3/18/2011 [Archive]

Defunding or Defanging?

Defunding or Defanging?

Peter Funt

There was plenty of passionate poppycock on the House floor Thursday, as members debated the Republicans' "emergency" bill to eliminate funding for National Public Radio.

Although the bill passed, as did a proposal last month to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, neither measure will advance beyond the House chamber.And while most of the arguments from both sides tap-danced around the issues, a level-headed reassessment of federal spending for public TV and radio is overdue.

Republicans rushed to judgment to take advantage of NPR's recent spate of bad publicity -- the latest incident involving nasty cracks about conservatives by NPR's chief fundraiser, Ron Schiller, recorded in a hidden-camera sting.Schiller was appropriately asked to leave NPR, as was his boss.

But the secret video proves nothing about NPR as an organization, nor does Schiller's behavior qualify as grounds to defund an operation that serves some 27 million listeners a week.

The real issues regarding NPR are straightforward.Republicans don't like spending taxpayer money on what many perceive as a liberal-leaning network, when the "private sector" is doing such a smashing job of promoting conservative views on commercial radio.Democrats believe the money is well spent, considering the pounding they are taking from Fox News and conservative broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh.As Democrats see it, NPR need not be liberal; the absence of overt conservatism is sufficient.

Thursday's floor show in the House was risible.Republican Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said with a straight face that defunding NPR would encourage more hiring by forcing rural stations to create new local programming.She went so far as to list 17 different jobs needed to produce a single radio show -- staffing levels that didn't exist even in radio's heyday decades ago.

Democrat Anthony Weiner of New York spent an embarrassing two minutes delivering a standup comedy routine about how Republicans hoped to solve the economic crisis by destroying the NPR series 'Car Talk' -- as if that was the point, which it clearly wasn't.

Republican Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia inched closer to the truth, as he sees it, by charging NPR with 'advocating one ideology' and 'veering far from what people want to (hear).'That's not true about NPR or the public -- with 69 percent of Americans favoring federal funding of public radio.

Across the aisle, Steve Israel, head of the Democrats' Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote, 'If the Republicans had their way, we'd only be left with the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to dominate the airwaves.'That's horribly misguided, because it suggests that NPR's mission is to defuse the message of conservative broadcasters, or to present the 'other side' of political controversies, which it is not.

The real question, perhaps better left for a time when a semblance of bipartisanship returns to Capitol Hill, is whether the public is best served by federal involvement in broadcasting.When the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was created by Congress in 1967, the media landscape was dramatically different.Back then, a better case could be made for providing quality government-supported radio and TV, especially in rural areas.In the digital age, that's not really necessary.

It's worth noting that C-SPAN, an arm of the cable-TV industry that receives no taxpayer funds, provides the most fair and well-produced coverage of government imaginable.The explosive growth of the Internet, along with cable and satellite systems, make the need for public TV and radio less clear cut.

Media operate best without government meddling and, in this day and age, without taxpayer money.

Although the latest attempt to defund NPR will not succeed, the House debate alone will apply unreasonable pressure to the workings of the network that, at most, gets only 10 percent of its revenue from taxpayers.Is it worth it?Even disgraced NPR fund raiser Ron Schiller conceded, 'it is very clear that we would be better off in the long run without federal funding.''

© 2011 Peter Funt. This column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or e-mail Sales@cagle.com.

Peter Funt is a writer and public speaker; he may be reached at www.CandidCamera.com, he's also the long-time host of "Candid Camera." A collection of his DVDs is available at www.candidcamera.com.



Download Peter Funt's color photo - Download Peter Funt's black and white mug shot photo
Why not run a cartoon with the column? We recommend the cartoons below as a good compliment to Peter Funt's topic.
Click on the thumbnail images to preview and download the cartoons.

Related Cartoons

 Lib  Proposed Cuts to PBS Repost
By: Daryl Cagle
Slate.com
March 16, 2017

Recortes Propuestos a la PBS
By: Daryl Cagle
Slate.com
March 10, 2011

 Lib  GOP Union Steamroller
By: Daryl Cagle
Slate.com
March 10, 2011

 Con  Breaking Backs COLOR
By: Nate Beeler

March 4, 2011

 Con  Fund-Me Elmo COLOR
By: Nate Beeler

March 10, 2011

 Con  Breaking Backs
By: Nate Beeler

March 4, 2011

 Con  Fund-Me Elmo
By: Nate Beeler

March 10, 2011

 Lib  National Republican Radio
By: R.J. Matson

March 14, 2011

 Lib  National Republican Radio-COLOR
By: R.J. Matson

March 14, 2011

 Con  Anti-union goon Scott Walker
By: Taylor Jones

March 10, 2011

 Con  Anti-union goon Scott Walker - COLOR
By: Taylor Jones

March 10, 2011

 Con  National Politically Correct Radio BW
By: John Cole

October 22, 2010

 Con  National Politically Correct Radio COLOR
By: John Cole

October 22, 2010

 Con  What Democracy Looks Like
By: Mike Lester

March 18, 2011

 Con  Fried Big Bird
By: Mike Lester

February 17, 2011

 Con  Obama Brackets
By: Mike Lester

March 17, 2011

 Con  Obama Brackets
By: Mike Lester

March 17, 2011

 Con  What Democracy Looks Like
By: Mike Lester

March 18, 2011

 Con  Fried Big Bird
By: Mike Lester

February 17, 2011
 

We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.
Sales & Information: (805) 969-2829 sales@cagle.com
Billing Information: (805) 969-2829billing@cagle.com
Technical Support: support@cagle.com

FREE cartoons for your website if you're already a paying print subscriber!
Artwork and columns are copyrighted by each creator. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. [Privacy Policy]