Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NPR serves up its own head on the Chopping Block!

Well, well, well, it's not everyday that I have to augment a post I put up about 12 hours earlier....but what a 12 hours it was. In the wake of NPR's VP of Bullshit Ron Schiller's embarassing exposition by Project Veritas' James O'Keefe, a conservative filmmaker, in the very recent past (just read the immediately preceding post), NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, which every media outlet EVER will make it a point to mention is of no relation to the former Schiller, has resigned.

Viv has been battling a proverbial shitstorm ever since the ouster of NPR Commentator Juan Williams over his "incendiary" comments, in which he claimed that Muslims in turbans on airplanes make him nervous (surprise!). But the comedy of errors that has ensued that fateful day has hammered nail after nail into NPR's coffin and essentially derailed any credibility the organization may have had to make a strong case for continued public funding. The push to de-fund NPR is no stranger, nor is it a novel concoction of the Tea Party. As some of you may recall, once in the early-mid 1990s, and once again in 2005, have members of Congress called for NPR's de-funding. For those not familiar with the controversy, a brief synopsis is as follows: many people, both in the American public, and in public service, believe that NPR has a left-wing, liberal slant. Whether or not that is true, of course, is open to interpretation; whether or not it matters is also contested. The belief is that due to the fact NPR and sister subsidiary PBS are partially subsidized by the American taxpayer, approximately 10% of the operating budget or so, that they automatically forfeit the right to "endorse" a political alignment or slant. I think that most people agree on that notion.

In any case, the current "hotly" conservative House of Representatives, pushed to electoral victory in part by the Tea Party, has renewed calls to defund NPR, and I'd say that at no other point in history has it looked like they have had this good a chance of making it happen. It was just this past Monday when Vivian Schiller had appeared to make her case for the continued congressional earmarking of NPR; now, Monday seems like a day from some alternate dimension. Vivian has resigned; Ron's out. The dominoes keep falling against them. Keep in mind, in the recent past alone, NPR has been pretty gaffe-tastic - from its erroneous reporting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' death (she survived) during the Tucson massacre, to the furor over Juan Williams' termination, which she even admitted happened "badly," though she did stand by her conviction, to the increasing cries of liberal bias NPR has endured during her two year tenure.

The Figures:
The CPB - Corporation for Public Broadcasting - is the parent of both NPR and PBS. This year alone, the CPB distributed approximately $470 million of federal dollars to the organizations. I have the same problem with NPR as I do with things like Amtrak - if these supposedly necessary, wonderful organizations can't survive in the free market without subsidies, why not let them go up against natural selection and let the chips fall where they may? The wonderful thing about a truly economically free market is that, (ideally), the best product with the most reasonable price ends up "winning." Why prop up a failing idea? I know the argument - that federal subsidies to NPR acts merely as "seed funding" which attracts private investment - but all we do have is theory. I know that $470 million dollars is literally less than a drop in the bucket when it comes to the freakishly brobdinagian deficits we hear about on a monthly basis these days, but every little bit counts, and we'll never know what will evolve unless we allow it to happen. I feel that the fear of "what might happen" isn't a valid reason to maintain a failing product, regardless if some people utilize it. Have hope in free enterprise - have hope in something! I will continue to update with any developments on this story. God Bless and good night all.

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