National Public Radio (NPR) is in a bit of hot water after posting an article during the Independence Day holiday Sunday that claimed the Declaration of Independence was “a flawed” document with “deeply ingrained hypocrisies,” leading to yet another call from people on the right to defund the organization.
“I’ve seen enough,” Republican Congressional candidate Irene Armendariz-Jackson said responding to the NPR post on Twitter. “Defund NPR.”
The article NPR posted Sunday included its tradition of staff members reading the document of America’s founding, a custom of some 32 years on the radio station, but also referred to the riots of last summer and the need to understand that the document contained things that some find offensive, like referring to Native-Americans as “merciless Indian savages.”
“Over the past 32 years, ‘Morning Edition’ has broadcast a reading of the Declaration of Independence by NPR staff as a way of marking Independence Day.” The story said. “But after last summer's protests and our national reckoning on race, the words in the document land differently. It famously declares ‘that all men are created equal’ even though women, enslaved people and Indigenous Americans were not held as equal at the time.”
The story quotes Native-American Author David Treuer, an Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation, who said the Revolutionary War was less about giving people equal rights, than about who would gain the spoils of settling the land west of the established colonies.
"The crown wanted that money for themselves,” he said in the story. “The colonists, understandably, would have preferred to have it for themselves. So, the whole revolution was in large part fought over who got to take our (Native-American) stuff."
The piece drew outrage from the right, and several called for taking money away from the organization, although what that means is a bit murky.
According to the organization’s recent financial statements, any public money it receives, which accounts for less than 4% of its $739 million 2020 operating budget, is directed to it from grants and capital funding from the larger Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which serves as a go-between from the federal government to the radio network.
The NPR balance sheet shows this money as part of $26,776,962 in “cash or cash equivalents,” while CPB’s financial reports show a proposed federal appropriation from Congress of $445 million for fiscal year 2021 with about $99 million of that going to public radio stations.
Of that, $69 million goes to grants for all public radio stations and another $22 million specifically in grants for “national program production and acquisition.”
According to NPR, the organization had $199 million in property and equipment assets in 2020, with the lion share of its income, $457 million coming from pledges and “net investments.”
Republicans tried unsuccessfully to defund the organization in 2011 when the House passed a bill 228-192 a week after NPR fired its chief executive at the time after he was caught on video saying the organization “did not need” federal tax dollars to survive.
"We saw... on video, executives at NPR saying that they don't need taxpayer dollars," then- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a 2011 ABC News story. "We are also in the process of making sure that Washington begins to do what every American family and small businessperson is having to do right now. It's called tightening the belt."
The move eventually died in Congress.
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