It's Time to Abolish Public Broadcasting

Friday, 22 Oct 2010 09:39 AM

By Lowell Ponte

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We need to defund and dismantle public broadcasting, and not solely because National Public Radio (NPR) just unjustly fired its only black male on-air news analyst, honest liberal Juan Williams.

Public broadcasting has been un-American from its birth.

I worked in the belly of this left-wing beast for four years as a token conservative-libertarian commentator for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in Los Angeles and as a science show host on NPR affiliate KCRW.

To understand the inherent fatal flaw in all public broadcasting, consider this: The Voice of America (VOA) is prohibited from beaming its broadcasts into the United States. That’s because VOA is politically controlled. If a president of the United States days before an election wished to tilt its outcome, he or she could order VOA to air broadcasts favoring one party and smearing all others.

Like the Voice of America, NPR and PBS are taxpayer-funded networks subject to political control. The leftward and pro-big government (and hence partisan Democratic Party) tilt of both is clear.

We have witnessed President Barack Obama's appointees plotting to reinstate the misnamed "Fairness Doctrine" in one form or another on commercial broadcasters.

This rule in the past did not enhance diversity of discussion on the airwaves. Instead it stifled all discussion by frightening broadcasters with the threat of losing their government license if some partisan bureaucrat arbitrarily decided that their programming tilted too far right or left.

Broadcasters responded, logically enough, by banishing almost all honest discussion of issues to avoid this license threat — a double-edged power to control broadcast content that came both from President John F. Kennedy on the left and President Richard Nixon on the right.

Only with President Ronald Reagan's removal of the "Fairness Doctrine" were talk radio and other broadcasts of small "d" democratic discussion set free to flourish.

This, of course, left the left, only about 20 percent of Americans, frustrated because conservative and libertarian talk radio is vastly more popular, hence the left's relentless demand that government force leftist views onto the nation's airwaves.

Ironically, the Fairness Doctrine never left one part of broadcasting.

The Charter of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the parent entity behind NPR and PBS, requires that its "programs of high quality, obtained from diverse sources, will be made . . . with strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature."

Have NPR and PBS lived up to CPB's “Fairness Doctrine?” No. Both networks have slanted their programming heavily leftward, praising liberals and Democrats while bashing conservatives and Republicans.

Three decades ago, when more than 40 Republicans in Congress petitioned the committee controlling CPB for an objective study of whether NPR and PBS were objective and balanced, its then-Chairman Rep. John Dingell, D.-Mich., figuratively spit on their petition and refused.

The Congress elected this Nov. 2 needs to launch such a retrospective study immediately, and to require 40 years of compensatory right-wing programming to balance four decades of left-wing propaganda paid for by taxpayers.

The new Congress needs to fire all the executives currently running NPR and PBS, especially NPR's haughty president and CEO, Vivian Schiller, who fired Panamanian-born Williams and then nastily said he should discuss this with his "psychiatrist."

As Fox commentator and host Judge Andrew Napolitano noted, if Mr. Williams needed a psychiatrist, then he should be protected from firing under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If Williams does not have a psychiatrist, said the Judge, then he has been libeled by Schiller and he should sue her.

Has NPR, which also allegedly has intimidated its political correspondent Mara Liasson for appearing on Fox, ever fired an on-air employee for making public left-wing statements? Not so far as I know.

If Republicans win control of the House this November, they should totally defund NPR and PBS. NPR and its affiliated stations together pocketed $90 million taxpayer dollars in 2010.

To prevent NPR and PBS from continuing as propaganda playthings of radical billionaires such as George Soros, who just donated $1.8 million to NPR to hire "investigative" (read "ideological") reporters, the new Congress should assert public ownership of all NPR and PBS broadcast frequencies, and then sell all of them off to the private sector. This would bring several billion dollars to the Treasury to help pay off the national debt.

Let NPR and PBS go bankrupt as left-partisan Air America Radio did. What few decent dramas PBS rebroadcasts from BBC will be carried on cable channels.

Lowell Ponte's new book, co-authored with Craig R. Smith, is “Crashing the Dollar: How to Survive a Global Currency Collapse,” available at crashingthedollar.com



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