The House voted today to defund National Public Radio in what turned out to be a party-line 228-192 vote, with only seven Republicans and all Democrats present opposed. It is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, and there is always the possibility of a presidential veto if it does make it through the upper chamber. But though this may be a symbolic vote, it was a gesture worth making. The argument for government-subsidized broadcasting is weak and getting weaker all the time.
Despite the brouhaha over the recent embarrassing statements made by NPR execs and their disgraceful behavior during the firing of Juan Williams last year, those controversies are simply symbols for what is truly wrong with the network. There is simply no rationale for taxpayers to be financing the left-leaning NPR. The sense of entitlement to taxpayer dollars for their pet projects is such that liberal mouthpieces like the New York Times not only don’t seem to understand why this practice is inherently illegitimate but also don’t think they even have to bother making an argument on behalf of preserving this sinecure. In its editorial denouncing the House for even considering axing NPR funding, the Gray Lady claims that criticism of the network is “politicized” even as they acknowledge its liberal bias. They think that just because they believe it is a quality news source, it is entitled to be subsidized by everyone, including those who find its slanted coverage appalling.
The Times claims that NPR’s audience is growing and that even a lot of Republicans listen to it. If that is so, then we have to ask why it cannot compete in the marketplace against privately owned stations that have no hold on the nation’s purse strings. Contrary to the Times’s assertion, the vote against NPR was indeed a “blow for liberty.” It may be just the first chapter of a long fight that may only be concluded in a future congressional session, but it is worth fighting and there is little question about the ultimate outcome. Government-funded liberal radio is on the way out. It’s just a question of time before NPR is forced to fend for itself in the marketplace of ideas — the way our founders intended a free press to operate.