I like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcast System. I really do. Although many criticize public broadcasting for its alleged liberal bias, the quirky news/feature stories on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition generally are good journalism, informative and entertaining, much like the thoroughly engaging features on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. PBS has aired some of the best programs on TV over the years. Mystery (now Masterpiece Mystery) and Masterpiece Theater, well, they are just top-notch. But, unlike the Wall Street Journal, NPR (and PBS) is, in part, funded with money Americans pay in taxes to the federal government.
As David Harsanyi at Reason.com says,
Though there is little to be offended by in most of NPR’s programming, public radio and television cater almost exclusively to the sensibilities of the urban liberal. Not that there’s anything wrong with being an urban liberal, of course.
Indeed. But if one is a taxpayer who doesn’t like NPR and PBS’s liberal bias (which they deny, but which is SO apparent)–it certainly rankles me, though for the most part I ignore it and take the good with the bad–one justifiably may question why he or she has to contribute (through taxes, not direct contributions that mainly support public radio and TV).
The federal government should not be funding radio and television programming. Is it National Propaganda Radio and Propaganda Broadcast System? It could be. In the event, would those who now defend public funding for NPR and PBS do so if they were broadcasting with a distinct conservative or right-wing bias? Of course not. The case now is that, as conservatives call for the government to defund public broadcasting, NPR and PBS have to feign unbiased journalism to try to save the money they get from the federal government. As Harsanyi points out, however, public broadcasting could be supported adequately by its listeners and viewers:
But this [urban liberal] demographic also happens to be blessed with the financial means to ensure that NPR remains a vibrant source of news.
So it should eschew public funding just so it can maintain its integrity. Go it alone, NPR and PBS! That way, you don’t have to pretend to be more centrist in your political viewpoints. In a free-market system, if demand is there for the likes of NPR and PBS, it will be met by private funding. Become National Private Radio and Private Broadcast System and I might even contribute (although I still will hold my nose when the liberal bias surges over the airwaves).