In the last rounds of complaints against Juan Williams, conservatives jumped on the opportunity to protest NPR’s
government funding. As Representative Issar (R) said, “It’s obvious that NPR is now a self-sustaining entity that no longer needs to rely on federal funds. As an independent entity, they will be free to serve Mr. Soros’ far left agenda”. Even on the other side of the political spectrum, the more liberal Jack Schafer at Slate seems to agree with the argument, implying that NPR should “…want to liberate itself permanently from all of the Nixons, Reagans, Gingrichs, and Boehners”.
Is that really what listeners or the general public want? A token liberal radio station? Or maybe a station that is just based solely on getting listeners and sponsors? Those are not the factors that have driven NPR nor do I see a reason that they should. Myself, I am appreciative that the “conservative right” gets all riled up at NPR every now and again. That should be part of the deal with receiving government funds. That you are then held accountable for what you do, by the government, politicians, and the general public. Shouldn’t people of every political ideology want there to be pressure for NPR to be as unbiased as possible?
Honestly, NPR does not like this publicity. They don’t want millions of dollars retracted, and they don’t want people criticizing them. So actually, what keeps conservatives complaining, keeps NPR unbiased and focused on their mission to, “…create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.”
One thing I’ve noted about the detractors, is that they simply do not care what NPR airs. Conservatives are content with Fox News Radio, and Schafer flatly says, “Public radio’s extinction would suit me fine”.
They’re obviously not the people that want or care for NPR’s programming. Yet, it’s something unique in it’s field. Look at where radio has gone when completely at the whims of ratings and commercials. We get Morning Zoo Shows and the conservative talk punditry. Yet, if NPR ever went even slightly in that direction, they would not have an argument for government funding.
To keep NPR tied to it’s mission, to provide a valuable, unbiased, intelligent content, it’s important to support it’s government funding.
Although, if you don’t buy my NPR praises, read this great take on their evolution as a source of news and content.