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NPR: Good Night and Good Luck

There’s a new sheriff in town, or at least there will be come January 3, 2011, when the new Congress is sworn in. The Republicans are taking over the reigns of power in the House of Representatives, and their leaders have let it be known they are taking no prisoners. No more Mr. Nice guy. Let the reign of terror begin.

Eventually, the new leadership will get around to tackling the hard stuff, like gutting the Health Care Reform Act, and making sure business interests and the rich get to keep as much money as possible. But for starters, Repubs have decided to go for an easy target, or at least, one that must seem easy prey: National Public Radio.

Thursday, House Republicans put forth a measure to take away all Federal funding of NPR. The proposal was soundly defeated, 239 to 171, but the message is clear: when the Republicans take control of the House in January, expect funding for NPR to be re-visited, and the result will likely be quite different.

Republicans have long criticized NPR as a mouthpiece for the Left. But let’s be honest: the only media outlets right wingers believe are “objective” are the ones featuring such even-handed folks as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. And they are run by “sensible” people like Roger Ailes. Consider: Michigan Republican representative Pete Hoekstra, speaking to Huffington Post about the possibility of defunding NPR, said he doesn’t care much for NPR, preferring to listen to Fox Radio. Big surprise. . . .

Republicans favoring defunding are using the recent Juan Williams firing as justification for the action. Everyone knows that’s a convenient excuse. The real reason NPR is in the crosshairs is simple: the network isn’t slanted to the Right. Republican representative Eric Cantor, who co-sponsored a measure to defund, says taxpayer funds shouldn’t go to a news organization that promotes a partisan point of view. Read: if you ain’t for us, you’re against us. If you don’t support the right wing agenda, you’re biased. To be objective is to be Left. Therefore, you’re going to lose your money when we (Republicans) take control of the purse strings.

Just how much money NPR’s parent organization, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) gets from the government is questionable. NPR executives say it’s only about 1 to 3 percent of its $166 million budget. According to “YouCut,” an anti-government spending program started by House Republicans earlier this year, the savings to the government from cutting out NPR is much greater, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.

Republican leaders like Hoekstra and Cantor say pulling the funds won’t be catastrophic to the network. Seems to me, you can’t have it both ways. Either NPR is sponging an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars (hence the enormous savings realized from eliminating the funding), or the government support doesn’t amount to much, which of course would support leaving the funding as is.

Of course, that’s if you’re gullible enough to believe the defunding debate has anything to do with taxpayer money. It doesn’t. This is a vendetta. Republicans on the Hill are still mad as hornets about getting kicked out of power two years ago. They made a list of enemies who they believe contributed to the defeat. NPR wasn’t “fair and balanced” in 2008. The network wasn’t objective like Hoekstra’s favorite news network, Fox. And now it’s time for payback, Republican style.

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