National Public Radio has been catching a lot of static lately (pun totally intended) after firing analyst Juan Williams recently for some untoward comments he made about Muslims on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, another network that employs him as a commentator.
Several members of Congress, mostly on the right, have called for an end to NPR’s public funding — specifically, the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which contributes about 10 percent of NPR’s budget (as well as a healthy chunk of PBS’). One of them is Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, the congressman for Missouri’s 9th District, which includes Northeast Missouri.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Political Fix blog, Luetkemeyer released a statement today citing House Majority Leader-elect Eric Cantor’s YouCut website, where the proposal to strip NPR’s government funds took the most votes in a weekly contest to find the most popular proposal for cutting government spending, as a mandate to start with NPR. The anti-NPR proposal leads the homepage today. Luetkemeyer said:
The American people sent Washington a loud message earlier this month and that message was Washington has to get serious about controlling spending. I heard that message loud and clear, and the American people are using the YouCut website to voice their support for spending cuts.
Such a move is largely symbolic, even Cantor’s office admits, because NPR gets the majority of its $166 million budget from private grants and donations and from local NPR stations that purchase programming from the national network.
An attempt to defund NPR failed in the still Democrat-controlled House today, but once Republicans formally take control in January, expect the claws to come out against NPR — and be assured that Northeast Missouri’s congressman is part of that charge.
By the way, Fox News’ chairman compared NPR executives to the Third Reich in a Daily Beast interview today. He’s since apologized to the Anti-Defamation League.
(Disclosure: I made a pledge this year to Quincy’s NPR affiliate, WQUB/90.3 FM.)