There’s been a lot of talk about “defund this” or “defund that” over the past few weeks. Anarchists have pitched hissy fits demanding that police be defunded. Jesse Kelly has turned cancel culture on its head by demanding that universities be defunded for historic connections to the slave trade, often extremely relevant ones. And over the weekend, we got a call demanding the defunding of a little organization called NPR.
NPR--National Public Radio--is a very not serious news organization funded via your tax dollars through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They are as insidious as they are incompetent, as evidenced by the embedded tweet below, which highlights the *slight* discrepancy in reporting.
NPR needs to go. If that isn’t some enemy of the people malarkey, then nothing is. But NPR needs to go for other reasons too. This isn’t some one time effort to block certain narratives or to frame developing stories to fit desired narratives and outcomes.
Take the 2017 guest column written by former NPR CEO Ken Stern in the New York Post, where he admits, among other things: “Take, for instance, the issue of legitimate defensive gun use (DGU), which is often dismissed by the media as myth. But DGUs happen all the time — 200 times a day, according to the Department of Justice, or 5,000 times a day, according to an overly exuberant Florida State University study. But whichever study you choose to believe, DGUs happen frequently and give credence to my hunting friends who see their guns as the last line of defense for themselves and their families.” Stern later opines that most of America sees the media as creating stories and division, rather than doing reporting, but stops short of outright condemning journos.
Perhaps, instead, you want to discuss how NPR fired Juan Williams from his post in October 2010, ostensibly for comments made on The O'Reilly Factor regarding his nervousness with flying on planes when there are passengers who clearly identify as Muslim.
Williams’ exact comments on O’Reilly were as follows:
"Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
Granted, this was not worded delicately. However, this was a response that was very common after 9/11. If you’re going to cancel Juan Williams for that, you also have to cancel everyone else who expressed apprehension, which would be logistically impossible for NPR. But because Juan Williams was a big name, this ended up being the great cover that NPR needed.
You see, about a year earlier, Juan Williams had been on the same O’Reilly Factor and made the following observation about Michelle Obama:
"Michelle Obama, you know, she's got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going. If she starts talking...her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I'm the victim. If that stuff starts coming out, people will go bananas and she'll go from being the new Jackie O to being something of an albatross".
NPR’s then Ombudsman Alicia Shepard wrote about this incident in her blog, saying that Williams “spoke one way one NPR and another way on Fox.” The blog entry also highlighted the damning fact that NPR was already trying to distance themselves from Williams, as evidenced by then CEO Vivian Schiller requesting that Fox News cease identifying Williams as an NPR host.
It was, of course, extremely disingenuous of NPR to act this way, since there was no outrage on NPR when their sworn enemy--Rush Limbaugh--had said as much during the 2008 election.
But, you see, you can’t fire a political commentator for having political thoughts. Especially when the only problem you have with those political thoughts is that you personally don’t like them. Outright bigotry or sexism? Sure, you can swing that. But “I don’t like the opinion man’s opinions” isn’t even a good reason for an at-will, pay-per-appearance agreement to be terminated, much less anything more binding or with more defined roles.
Williams had to go, not because he was a bad reporter, or a hack, or a bigot, or a chauvinist, but because he had dared go against the narrative that said Michelle Obama could possibly not be likable. Speculation that this was, in fact, the real reason Williams was so rampant that NPR invited Williams back on the network to clear the air on an episode of “All Things Considered”, arguably NPR’s flagship program.
To be clear: Juan Williams was so toxic to NPR that they tried shunning him for a year, asked other networks to not associate him with them, and needed to be terminated within 30 days and no hearing. But also he needed to be invited back onto a flagship program to discuss the very termination that was so needed.
But enough about how NPR treats their own.
NPR is a sham. Frauds. Outright liars.
A January 2019 article by NPR contributor Francesa Paris still has not been updated to reflect the following facts: - Nathan Phillips was a career agitator who was attempting to draw pro-life marchers from Covington Catholic High School into an altercation. - That the students did not surround Phillips and that he was free to walk away at any point. - That Nick Sandmann was, in fact, telling the truth when he stated that he had “no interaction with Phillips.” - That the racial taunts which were alleged to have been used had, in fact, come from the Black Hebrew Israelites who were counter protesting. High school webzine editors know better.
If NPR cannot even meet the basic standards of journalism, then it must be defunded. NPR is supposed to be a source of unbiased, independent journalism specifically because it is supposed to be free from the temptations of creating storylines for profit. However, what they have proven in recent times is that they’re more than happy to create storylines just for fun, and to even eat their own when they get in the way of playing pretend.
However, the need to defund NPR goes beyond their blatant desire to shape narratives over providing unbiased reporting. Its funding structure is one of the most impossibly grifty structures ever devised by man or beast.
We here at Flappr like to take shots at the CGC, or Conservative Grifter Class. Bill Kristol, S.E. Cupp, and Rick Wilson are frequent targets. By comparison, however, their grifts are small. The Bulwark has no real reader base, and no matter how much they pray at the altar, former conservatives will always be former conservatives. Libs don’t take S.E. or Rick seriously, which means their grift already can only target half the population.
But NPR is grifting everybody, and you don’t even have to take them seriously to be a victim. Consider that the actual call to “Defund NPR” is impossible.
You can’t call on the government to stop funding something if it doesn’t directly fund it in the first place. Some people are reading this with glee as they anticipate me saying something like “listeners fund NPR” or some other dumb trope an uninformed person would throw out. Like this blue check twitwit:
This position is, at best, uninformed; but is most likely disingenuous and/or even an outright lie.
You see, the government funds the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private-non-profit corporation created when Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 into law. The CPB then, in turn, funds some of NPR’s activities. More on this in a minute.
The CPB’s publicly available FY2020 budget shows it receiving 449 million dollars in total. A hair over 100 million goes to radio.
Of this 100 millionish dollars, 23,272,875 goes to what are called “National Program Production and Acquisition Grants.” These programming grants are what produce NPR’s content and pays for such vital news items as: “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” a news quiz show featuring comedians, celebrity interviews, and the voice of the guy who used to host “American Justice” on A&E; “A Way With Words,” a program which discusses linguistic oddities; “Says You,” a wordplay game whose purpose eludes me; “Travel with Rick Steves,” which is as hard hitting in its reporting as it is riveting in its storytelling; “Celtic Connections,” a Sunday night affair featuring nothing but the music of the Celtic peoples; and “This American Life,” a bizarre--almost Nero and Soy Lament-esq--journey through whatever topic floated into Ira Glass’ head that week.
Your local NPR affiliate, however, does not just receive these programs that your tax dollars produced. No, your station raises funds to pay the CPB for syndication rights.
That’s right. The only way an NPR affiliate can broadcast NPR programming is if you donate money to their station so that they can use it to buy a program that your tax dollars already ostensibly produced for them.
In addition to this, NPR stations purchase syndicated news updates from the CBC and BBC. A direct transfer of American wealth to Canada and the UK via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
That’s the grift of all grifts.
Moreover, NPR affiliates do not need this money to continue to exist. NPR itself admits that approximately 66 percent--a super majority--of its stations are connected to colleges and universities. They are used for everything from hosting, to technical production, to audio editing, to operations management training. In short--these approximately 66 percent of stations will not go away if NPR does.
Their programming may change, their air hours may change as their license type may change, but their existence will not go away. The other approximately 33 percent are community owned. Again, these are not numbers being thrown out as best guesstimates, they are being lifted directly from NPR’s own “About Us” overview.
These stations are in slightly more danger of going away, as they provide no immediate other benefits to a cashcow like a university or college.
However, therein lies the rub.
That any of these stations are being subsidized at all by our federal tax dollars is absurd.
If local populaces wish to have independent radio in their wider communities, let them raise funds locally to do so, and to then produce content truly aimed at their local populace, produced by their local populace, and on a scale commensurate with the finances of the local populace.