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House Bill Puts NPR on the Firing Line

March 16, 2011

My comments first. It is important that other pressing issues are not over shadowed by the Japan disaster. NPR has found itself in a heck of a fix since being caught in a sting by right-wing wonk James O’Keefe. I have expressed my own views on the comments made by Ron Schiller: it’s a free country and he has every right guaranteed by our First Amendment to say whatever he wants to say. If he does not like the Tea Party – so what. If he expresses an opinion about whether NPR needs Federal funds – so what. No one on NPR’s staff is advocating against the Tea Party on the air. There is no propaganda going on. I have listened to NPR for decades and it is one the premier journalistic radio broadcasts. They often cover stories not heard elsewhere. They have a tremendous line up of shows: The World, PRI, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, etc. My world is expanded each time i listen to any of these shows. I would rather my tax dollars go to NPR than another war — like the one being cooked up right now against Libya that will undoubtedly cost billions. That is not my choice as a taxpaying citizen. I want to go on the record that i support NPR, and if my readers — a few thousand ‘these days’ (get the pun) — want to weigh in, please do so, BUT i encourage you to direct your comments to House Republicans if you support NPR. It is after all YOUR country and they are PUBLIC SERVANTS.

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The Hill reports: The House Rules Committee on Wednesday will consider a bill to defund NPR.

The move could set up a floor vote on the issue and comes after a video sting led to the resignation of NPR’s top executive. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who controls the House calendar, would have to decide to bring the measure to the floor.

A number of House Republican leaders, including Cantor, have called for cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the entity that funds NPR and the Public Broadcasting Service, after conservative activist James O’Keefe released video footage of an NPR fundraiser criticizing conservatives and claiming that the public radio conglomerate does not need federal funds to operate.

The incident led to that executive’s resignation, and to the resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller.

Republicans say the episode demonstrated that NPR shows a left-wing bias and does not deserve federal funding, especially with the nation facing a $1.6 trillion budget deficit. The CPB received $420 million from the federal government last year.

Advocates for NPR have argued that it needs the funds, and that public television and radio stations across the country would be hurt if the GOP blocks funding.

The GOP has already tried to defund NPR, attaching language to their long-term continuing resolution that would have stripped money for CPB. That bill failed to clear the Senate.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has introduced legislation in the Senate, and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) has done the same in the House.

Even if the House were to pass a bill, the Democratic-controlled Senate could block it. President Obama has also defended federal funds for public broadcasting.

Some liberal groups and news outlets have criticized the O’Keefe videos, saying they were selectively edited to make executive Ron Schiller’s comments more inflammatory. Schiller is not related to Vivian Schiller.

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