Tags: Rep. | DeLay | Condemns | NPR | for | Anti-Christian | Smear

Rep. DeLay Condemns NPR for Anti-Christian Smear

Thursday, 28 February 2002 12:00 AM

"NPR’s conduct is outrageous,” declared House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, on the floor of the House of Representatives. NPR broadcast a report Jan. 22 that gratuitously dropped the name of Traditional Values Coalition in the midst of a story about the anthrax letters sent to the Senate that killed several people.

"The NPR story didn’t present any credible evidence to support the awful association they suggested,” DeLay told his colleagues.

"NPR’s conduct,” he continued, "is outrageous and ignores their basic responsibility as journalists – presenting the facts to the public accurately and without bias.”

The only link the NPR reporter presented was the fact that TVC had earlier protested the efforts of Senate plurality leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to eliminate the words "So help me, God” from the oath that witnesses take, swearing to tell the truth, when they testify before Senate committees.

This is nothing more than "an attempt by NPR to practice guilt by association,” DeLay charged.

The Texas lawmaker said he had worked with Traditional Values Coalition for many years and called it "a principled, compassionate Christian organization which speaks for 43,000 member churches from across the United States.”

He said the public "should expect responsible reporting from NPR, and they ought to demand it of themselves.”

Other lawmakers who followed DeLay took that demand a step further.

"Although I have supported NPR’s public funding in the past,” said Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., "they [TVC] simply didn’t deserve to be treated this way – to be forced to prove or disprove a negative.”

The moderate Floridian charged that "such reckless, irresponsible accusations pulled out of thin air [are] doing exactly what Osama bin Laden would like us to do, to turn on each other.”

As a price for his continued support of NPR, Foley demanded the network go way beyond its weak retraction, in which NPR admitted it "might have exaggerated the situation.”

"They [need to] apologize more forcefully,” he said.

With the freedom of the press comes responsibility, noted House Deputy Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., an obligation that he noted was all the more important for "public" television and "public" radio because they receive taxpayer dollars.

On Jan. 22, he said, "NPR broke its contract with the American people by reporting hearsay as fact,” thus doing its listeners and fellow journalists "a great disservice.”

"In this case, the taxpayers did not get what they paid for,” Blunt protested, "The report was completely inaccurate and irresponsible."

The House leader demanded two results from the congressional protests:

Meanwhile, in a House committee room, the man who holds NPR’s federal purse strings was telling the president of Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) he was not amused with the network’s antics.

House Labor and Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, characterized the NPR anthrax story as "irresponsible journalism,” and said it "erodes NPR’s credibility.”

The panel was considering Public Broadcasting’s subsidy for fiscal year 2005. (2003 and 2004 were already enacted, according to figures presented by CPB.) Estimates have placed that taxpayer subsidy at 8 to 9 percent of its total budget.

According to CPB’s Web site, the corporation was requesting a boost of $15 million in taxpayer money, from $380 million to $395 million.

For "radio stations,” CPB was asking for a $2.3 million boost from your pocket (from $59.2 million to $61.5 million). Under "radio programs” the Web site shows a requested increase of an additional million, from $25.4 million to $26.4 million.

Another committee member, Randy "Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., allowed as how the taxpayers who work hard for their money would likely take a dim view of financing character assassination.

The Californian said he too "would have chastised” Daschle and Leahy for trying to eliminate "So help me, God,” from the oath, "and I wouldn’t send an anthrax letter.”

According to a source who attended the hearing, CPB President and CEO Robert Coonrod acknowledged the NPR story was "off target” but said the network had apologized.

Not true, says TVC Chairman the Rev. Lou Sheldon in an interview two weeks ago with NewsMax.com. Merely admitting it "may have exaggerated the situation” was a "wet noodle” and fell far short of a retraction, let alone any apology, he said.

Back on the House floor, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., noted the appropriations hearings going on elsewhere at the Capitol. He pointedly declared, "As we review National Public Radio’s budget, I must express my outrage at their unethical report on the anthrax mailings.

"There are no facts and no sources to support this charge of the NPR broadcast,” said the Midwestern Republican. He noted the half-hearted "correction” was not accompanied by an apology.

The Rev. Sheldon and his daughter Andrea Lafferty of TVC "are good friends and loving people,” said Tiahrt, "and it is shocking that anyone could consider them capable of such a horrific act.”

Getting (again) to the bottom line, the Kansan added, "NPR receives federal funds, and therefore we in Congress have a responsibility to make sure that our constituents’ taxpayer dollars are not misused for such malicious and unethical reporting.”

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., said he had "become jaded to the fact that the news media uses the airwaves to promote their liberal agenda,” but NPR had "crossed the line from simple bias to outright libel.”

The Californian said that while TVC practices "the American ideals of charity and compassion, NPR continues to practice [its] traditional values: shameful pettiness and slanderous lies.”

Thus far, NewsMax.com has not found a record of any member of Congress defending the NPR story. However, if a serious effort is made to slash funding for this liberal sacred cow, look for the Clinton-style spin machine to twist this incident out of shape.

The Republicans tried to excise CPB from the budget when they first won congressional control in 1994. The powerful megaphone of the left-wing establishment drowned out their arguments in the public square and forced them to retreat.

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NPR's conduct is outrageous," declared House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, on the floor of the House of Representatives.NPR broadcast a report Jan. 22 that gratuitously dropped the name of Traditional Values Coalition in the midst of a story about the anthrax letters...
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2002-00-28
Thursday, 28 February 2002 12:00 AM
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