Wait, wait … please tell me why I should support NPR

Allow me to respond to Mr. Flaxman's recent letter bemoaning the proposed legislation in Congress to delete funding for public broadcasting, and urging folks to contribute to WCQS and UNC-TV [“Don’t Let Public Media Go to Static,” March 23 Xpress].

I contribute to UNC-TV because the News Hour with Jim Lehrer is "fair and balanced," with all sides of an issue represented. Not so with National Public Radio. Not only [is the coverage selective], but those speaking on a particular issue also [demonstrate] a liberal bias.

What is truly bothersome are the so-called "comedy" shows whose hosts and guests continually make wisecracks of a deprecating nature about conservatives (both collectively and individually) and Republicans (collectively and individually), all the time giving a free pass to liberals and Democrats. As an unaffiliated voter with a conservative bent, I resent it, and find it in poor taste that tax dollars are being used to make fun of what often is my point of view. I refer specifically to Peter Sagal's Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me; Michael Feldman's Whad’Ya Know; and Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion.

Why should I be expected to contribute to a station broadcasting such programs? I complained to the general manager of WCQS about these programs, and his only reply was that he had no control over them, and that I should complain directly to the originating station. Not very supportive, I must say. However, if enough managers of local stations complain about the uneven nature of the "comedy" being broadcasted, I'll bet some changes would occur.

— Bob Youngerman
Brevard

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57 thoughts on “Wait, wait … please tell me why I should support NPR

  1. bill smith

    I would be interested to know what sorts of shows the letter writer would like to see replace the radical socialist agenda of Prairie home companion and wait wait.

  2. Asheville Dweller

    NPR is a joke, never any thing of substance, somehow they forget people have access to better news. If I wanted to be lectured the news Id take a journalist class.

    Prarie home companion is just unbearalbe. . .. .

  3. tatuaje

    One conservative (christian) college got more government cash than NPR last year.

    http://www.salon.com/life/education/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/04/05/liberty_university_federal_money

    And I think James Fallows sums up rather nicely why we need NPR.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/10/why-npr-matters-long/65068/

    NPR, whatever its failings, is one of the few current inheritors of the tradition of the ambitious, first-rate news organization. When people talk about the “decline of the press,” in practice they mean that fewer and fewer newspapers, news magazine, and broadcast networks can afford to try to gather information. The LA Times, the Washington Post, CBS News — they once had people stationed all around the world. Now they work mainly from headquarters — last year the Post closed all its domestic bureaus outside Washington — and let’s not even think about poor Newsweek and US News.

    Who is left? The New York Times, for one. The Wall Street Journal, with a different emphasis; increasingly Bloomberg, also with a specialized outlook. The BBC. CNN, now under pressure. Maybe one or two others — which definitely include NPR.

    It has reporters at state houses and in war zones. At last count, it has something like 17 foreign bureaus and 16 domestic. In much of the country, especially away from the coasts, it’s a major source of local information and news. It claims that its total audience is some 27 million people a week; with all allowances for counting differences, it reaches a lot more people than Fox does. (Eg, a recent report put O’Reilly’s usual audience at around 3.3 million.) NPR is increasingly important in state-capital coverage, as small newspapers have weakened. Because it can carry on-scene interviews and “soundscapes,” it can convey an impression of realities from inside China, or Haiti, or Detroit, or Kabul in a way print stories cannot.

    In their current anti-NPR initiative, Fox and the Republicans would like to suggest that the main way NPR differs from Fox is that most NPR employees vote Democratic. That is a difference, but the real difference is what they are trying to do. NPR shows are built around gathering and analyzing the news, rather than using it as a springboard for opinions. And while of course the selection of stories and analysts is subjective and can show a bias, in a serious news organization the bias is something to be worked against rather than embraced. NPR, like the New York Times, has an ombudsman. Does Fox? [I think the answer is No.]

  4. tatuaje

    In 2010, NPR revenues totaled $180 million, with the bulk of revenues coming from programming fees, grants, contributions and sponsorships. According to the 2009 financial statement, about 50% of NPR revenues come from the fees it charges member stations for programming and distribution charges. Typically, NPR member stations receives funds through on-air pledge drives, corporate underwriting, state and local governments, educational institutions, and the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). In 2009, member stations derived 6% of their revenue from federal, state and local government funding, 10% of their revenue from CPB grants, and 14% of their revenue from universities. While NPR does not receive any direct federal funding, it does receive a small number of competitive grants from CPB and federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce. This funding amounts to approximately 2% of NPR’s overall revenues.

    According to CPB, in 2009 11.6% of the aggregate revenues of all public radio broadcasting stations were funded from federal sources, principally through CPB.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPR#Funding

  5. chops

    It is not the proper function of government to finance war.

    To me, that is just frivolous, irresponsible spending.

    On the other hand, it is absolutely essential to have public radio. I’m not being facetious – I’m serious. I actually value having accurate information and entertainment over purposeless military endeavors.

  6. chops

    NPR news seems to be very reliable for accuracy and honesty, according to this study:

    http://www.tinyurl.com/l4owq

    I know it’s an old issue, but the ‘bias’ aspect is still relevant, I think. Either way, we need good information just like we need fire departments and the FDA.

    We won’t get it from the right-leaning outlets (FOX, etc.) who are actually less balanced, or deliberately deceiving, or both. Of course, it is possible that this study only goes to show that FOX viewers are just bigger idiots. Or maybe conservatives are more gullible.

  7. Asheville Dweller

    Great how you turn this around to attack Faux news, I know what you are Insinuating, its ok.

    But your little report is a little missleading as well . . .

    WPO is made possible by the generous support of:

    Rockefeller Foundation
    Rockefeller Brothers Fund
    Tides Foundation <— Soros funded
    Ford Foundation
    German Marshall Fund of the United States
    Compton Foundation
    Carnegie Corporation
    Benton Foundation
    Ben and Jerry’s Foundation
    University of Maryland Foundation
    Circle Foundation
    JEHT Foundation
    Stanley Foundation
    Ploughshares Fund
    Calvert Foundation
    Secure World Foundation
    Oak Foundation
    United States Institute of Peace

    Something Soros funded is 100% true and honest . . . He doesnt hate Faux News at all . . .

  8. sidneynemms

    As a true libertarian, I couldn’t agree more with the author. It’s embarassing how slanted they are to the left. It’s like the ANTIFOX.

    And their recent coverage of the nuclear issues in Japan is just blatantly obvious fear-mongering.

  9. Johnny

    NPR is far left? Please.

    If one believes such nonsense they have been swayed WAY too far by the loud, screeching, Republican “base”. It also is a testament to that vocal minority’s success in moving the terms-of-the-debate for people to call NPR far left. And it’s wrong.

    Nina Totenberg’s Supreme Court reporting alone deserves the support of the citizenry. It is balanced, articulate, and informative beyond compare.

  10. greese007

    Name me a news organization that does NOT do fear-mongering. The aforementioned Glenn Beck is one of the world’s best at it. FOX’s opposite is MSNBC, not NPR.

    I don’t believe that anyone who counts themselves as a libertarian has a good grip on where the middle is. Just saying.

  11. Asheville Dweller

    Ahhh You linked a blogspot link No thanks, bloggers . . . Everyone has one, you will find something that matches what you are looking for or write it yourself.

    You are mistaking me for a faux supporter . . SUPRISE IM NOT, I can think for myself and form my own opinions I dont need Faux, the huffing puff, NPR, or any of the main news outlets to tell me how to think and feel.

    And Glenn is leaving Fox so you will lose that attack soon enough.

  12. bill smith

    [i]It’s embarassing how slanted they are to the left. [/i]

    Funny what some people consider far ‘left’.

    The anti-FOX? That’s a very silly comparison.

    I wonder how many who want to ‘defund npr” understand that this will only hurt small, regional
    stations and not NPR as a whole?

    In fact, what a great metaphor for the current concern for ‘fiscal restraint’ from the pro-war right. They wail and moan over pennies while we bleed real money on war and corporate subsidies.

  13. Godslayer

    It isn’t the role of government to fund radio programs? What about Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Radio Marti, and the Voice of America?

    The people who complain about NPR being “liberal” really mean “intellectual”, as in aimed at an intelligent and educated audience. This is why they don’t like it–it’s not for them.

  14. “Nina Totenberg’s Supreme Court reporting alone deserves the support of the citizenry.”

    Uh huh. And should that support be voluntary or involuntary?
    …………………………..

  15. greese007

    And if Beck goes from Fox to the Drudge Report, it will have improved the average intelligence of both organizations.

    Bill, Sean, and Sarah will still be at Fox, so not much to hope for, balance-wise.

  16. Big Al

    “The people who complain about NPR being “liberal” really mean “intellectual”, as in aimed at an intelligent and educated audience.”

    Can you get any more elitist or sanctimonious?

    Newsweek exit polling in the 2004 election (you know, the one Bush should have lost due to his unpopular war) showed that more Bush voters were college educated than those who voted for John Kerry.

    It is a myth that Democrats or Liberals are more educated or intellectual than Rebublicans and Conservatives, they just appear to be, since Democrats and Liberals make up the majority of the education beauracracy and the press which reports on them.

    Despite my personal bend towards conservatism, I like listening to NPR but do will not support it during fund drives as it is already being supported by my tax dollars which were INVOLUNTARILY taken from me. When Public Radio becomes TRULY public (i.e. funded only by public donations) then I will consider donating. When tax dollars keep NPR afloat, it is not Public Radio, it is Government Radio, and involved in a conflict of interest that flirts with becoming state propaganda.

  17. Big Al

    BTW, if NPR receives “no direct federal funding” and only 2% (or 11% depending on the source) from indirect federal sources, what is the big deal over their being defunded by Congress?

  18. greese007

    College and university staffs are also seen as mostly liberal, intellectual, and elite. So- no gov’t support there either?

    While we’re at it, I’m not too crazy about having to pay more (involuntary) taxes to cover for those untaxed churches. A little too much gov’t support of religion for me.

  19. Despite my personal bend towards leftism, I like watching Fox but do will not support it by buying from its sponsors as it is already being supported by tax breaks which INVOLUNTARILY increased the tax burden of working families and the middle class.

    When Private Radio becomes TRULY private (i.e. funded only by money that they print themselves) then I will consider buying something. When tax breaks keep Fox’s bottom line fat, it is not Private Radio, it is Government Radio, and involved in a conflict of interest that flirts with becoming corporate propaganda.

  20. bill smith

    What’s is wrong with being elite, JW?

    [i]BTW, if NPR receives “no direct federal funding” … from indirect federal sources, what is the big deal over their being defunded by Congress? [/i]

    Agreed. It is only the Republicans who are pretending this will really effect NPR, and not small rural stations like, say WNCW.

    I suspect it is because it makes a great target for their social-conservative base while not really effecting any significant spending.

    I wonder how many who want to ‘defund npr” understand that this will only hurt small, regional stations and not NPR as a whole?

  21. greese007

    Anyone who believes that gov’t should/will fund only those ventures that EVERYBODY agrees with does not have both oars in the water.

    And those who believe that gov’t should fund only those things that they personally agree with will have to get over it.

  22. Asheville Dweller

    You cant have it both ways, Fox = Government radio? Really?

  23. Are you saying Fox News is anti-government? Do you believe they are involved in some vast conspiracy to undermine our great democracy?

  24. Asheville Dweller

    No but you are trying to say Faux = Government from your previous post.

    Nice deflection though.

  25. greese007

    Fox=Government when Republicans are in charge.

    Fox=Anti-government when Republicans are not in charge.

    Fox= Temporary employment for Republican candidates in between elections.

  26. No, if you were paying attention, you would notice that I posted twice about editing errors. Perhaps this is one of them.

    Maybe it isn’t. Maybe the reason Obama tolerates Fox News is because he secretly helps coordinate their “news” in an effort to continue the marginalization of so-called conservative or libertarian “values”.

    This would be much the same way that PETA is actually funded by industrial slaughter farms in order to marginalize the legitimate complaints of food, animal, and economic activists against multinational agribusiness.

    But, none of that is particularly important as long as we have some people who continue to treat this entire circus as though it were of some particular import. No one is going to have a change of heart and swing all the way around to a different opinion based on what goes on in these forums and even if they do it is probably because they had some water-brained reason for believing whatever it was they were switching from in the first place.

    Not to mention that the continued distraction of “left” versus “right” is merely nothing more than taking sides over which one of the two people who are about to kill you and your family in a brutal home invasion in the form of (mostly) similar folks taking sides with some particular subset of the oligarchy. There is a reason these people have been successful down through the ages and it has nothing to do with the vial of Jesus’ blood that sits in the upper left hand drawer of the Oval Office desk.

    No!

    It is more about the powers that be trying to tell us that sometimes we feel like a nut, even if we don’t.

  27. dpewen

    Not caring what people think I will continue to support WCQS and WNCW … although I listen to WNCW 8-10 hours/day I like the WCQS programming. And yes, I am an elitist!!

  28. Godslayer

    “Elitist” = anyone smarter than the people who use the word “elitist”

  29. greese007

    Enlightening conversation. Haven’t had so much fun since middle school.

  30. JWTJr

    When someone tries to tell you they are smarter than you and everyone else, it usually doesn’t take long for them to prove that they were wrong.

  31. Asheville Dweller

    ” When tax breaks keep Fox’s bottom line fat, it is not Private Radio, it is Government Radio, and involved in a conflict of interest that flirts with becoming corporate propaganda”

    That is what you said you just called Faux Government radio.

    You can try to church it up all you want, if you mean what you say, say it don’t try to encrypt it to sound smart because its not you’re strongpoint.

    And if you make a mistake then admit to it and stop trying to squirm out of it. I know the good old boy club here at the MX won’t call you on because they do it to.

  32. I already admitted the mistake. I’m not sure why you keep bringing it up.

    I mean, I can imagine that someone in your condition has troubles like this but honestly, it’s not that hard to see what I was doing.

    Oh, well. I hope you feel better soon.

  33. bill smith

    De-funding about 2% of NPR’s budget to balance the budget is like bailing out a leaky boat with a tea spoon.

  34. JWTJr

    What’s the big deal if its only 2%? They should be able to make that up in their sleep. Stop the funding and quit bitching. Learn to squeeze a dime.

  35. I’d rather we learn to squeeze a proper tax burden off of the top one percent of the nation’s wage earners.

    Not to mention ceasing all this nonsense about “cutting costs” because that is exactly the logic that has created a financial problem in the first place.

  36. Godslayer

    Why is it OK for the government to carry Rush Limbaugh on Armed Services Radio but not fund NPR? Although it would be foolish to expect consistency from those on the low end of the Bell Curve (I.e., right-wingers), I have yet to hear a justification for this double standard.

    By the way, a movement defined by resentment for the intelligent will only doom itself to stupidity.

  37. dpewen

    One of the problems … perhaps big problem is that public radio/tv stations rely on funds from listeners/viewers and many do not contribute but are enjoying the stations … come on people support if you enjoying!! Way to many freeloaders out there!!

  38. bill smith

    [i]What’s the big deal if its only 2%? [/i]

    Exactly. Why is the GOP making such a big deal of such a small amount when there are REAL financial issues to deal with? IS it because they daren’t go after the sacred cows that fund their districts, like agricultural subsidies and military contracts?

  39. mule

    NPR’s an easy target because only pointy headed perfessors listen to it. Real Amerkans prefer Budwiser and Fox!

  40. TallPaul

    “NPR is far left? Please.

    If one believes such nonsense they have been swayed WAY too far by the loud, screeching, Republican “base”.”

    Or, perhaps they just listened to NPR. I have, and I agree with the LTE.

    “Name me a news organization that does NOT do fear-mongering. The aforementioned Glenn Beck is one of the world’s best at it. FOX’s opposite is MSNBC, not NPR.”

    The only one I’m asked to pay for is NPR.

    When it boils down it, boys and girls, there is NOTHING in the United States Constitution that empowers the Federal government to fund a radio network.

  41. TallPaul

    ” I complained to the general manager of WCQS about these programs, and his only reply was that he had no control over them, and that I should complain directly to the originating station. ”

    He has no control over what programs are aired on WCQS? I disagree.

  42. bill smith

    [i]The only one I’m asked to pay for is NPR.[/i]

    Well, that’s quite disingenuous, isn’t it, Paul?

    You aren’t ‘paying for it’. A tiny, teeny, itsy-witsy bit of ‘your’ money goes to subsidize a teeny weeny fraction of programming for SOME smaller, rural stations. “You” are not “paying” for NPR.

    And while I agree that perhaps NO tax dollars should go to NPR (an opinion held by the former head honcho at NPR), why it is that folks such as yourself choose to get so burnt up over such a pittance in comparison to say, Agribusiness subsidies or subsidies to foreign oil companies (something the Republicans heartily support) seems to imply this really isn’t about fiscal responsibility, but more about a typical divide-and-conquer social conservative wedge issue.

    Too bad, too. Because if the Republicans began taking REAL action on the budget, instead of merely symbolic action, they might have a broad enough appeal to not merely be forced to throw bait to the portion of the far right still lost in the culture war from three decades past.

    [i]He has no control over what programs are aired on WCQS?[/i]

    Clearly he was referring to the content, and not the shows themselves.

    Of course, the real question remains why is this letter writer familiar enough with these offensive liberal shows to know the bulk of their content? Admitting to listening to socialist radio surely would contradict his entire thesis.

  43. Hugh Akston

    The proper function of the government is to support and abet the free market. Period. There is no problem that cannot be solved using free market solutions. There is no moral principal higher than profit. Wealth is Truth!

  44. [b]The proper function of the government is to support and abet the free market. Period. There is no problem that cannot be solved using free market solutions. There is no moral principal higher than profit. Wealth is Truth![/b]

    HHAHHHAHHAHAAAHEHAHAHAHEHAHAHHAHEHEHHEHHAHHAHHEHHAAEAAHHAE!

    Oh, wait. You’re serious? Let me laugh harder.

  45. Hugh Akston

    Mat, I get the feeling we may be in disagreement. I must point out to you that you hold the minority opinion here. Most everyone here believes in free market principles. Wealth is Truth! Indeed! Please read the works of A. Rand. I’m sure it will be a quick read for someone of your mental capacity. (hehe)

  46. TallPaul

    For some, it’s all about what is entertaining and what feels good. Reality has little to do with it.

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