The Truth about NPR.Posted: March 13, 2011
Just as I exposed the health care debate to the sunshine of obvious common sense—which resulted in passage of the law, because all the members of Congress and the President read my blog—let me do the same for the NPR federal funding crisis.
Let’s start with a fact. NPR is liberal—if liberal means “having an ounce of compassion for your fellow man.” This distinction ought not be something NPR is ashamed of. NPR carries news stories that examine in depth the impact of events on the less powerful—stories that by and large are not explored elsewhere on the radio.
It’s ridiculous for us liberals to pretend that NPR isn’t liberal. It makes us look as if we’ve got something to hide when we pretend this, and it makes us look foolish.
The point isn’t that NPR is liberal. It is that in many parts of the country, especially the more rural parts, the local NPR station is the only local liberal voice on the airwaves. All else is Limbaugh and Beck.
If the Republicans in the House succeed in defunding NPR, the local NPR stations in New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston and Seattle will be fine. Those places have enough people in them to come up with the scratch to keep their local stations going.
But the local NPR stations in places like Kansas and Nebraska, where not so many people live, won’t be fine.
And that’s exactly the point.
The Republicans in Congress come from places like Kansas and Nebraska. They’d be happy to see the lone opposition voice in their legislative districts silenced. That’s what this is all about. It’s not about killing NPR. It’s about killing rural NPR stations, congressional district by congressional district.
Clarence Page, to his credit, gets to the crux of the matter in his Chicago Tribune op-ed piece today. To his discredit, it takes him 400 words to get to the crux, and even then he phrases it coyly (“Of course, maybe those same lawmakers would just as soon see fewer alternatives to conservative radio talk shows”), but you can’t have everything.