The big issues surrounding the federal deficit involve matters of entitlements, defense and income – but the easier fights take place in the relatively small discretionary spending arena. Television broadcasters face an existential threat from possible fund-raising spectrum auctions, and National Public Radio once again faces loss of funding.
The news and information radio news service is popular among news junkies from coast to coast, but it has never been popular with lawmakers who favor austerity when it comes to the federal budget.
Republicans often accuse it of having a liberal bias, charges that went into overdrive after the summary dismissal of commentator Juan Williams last year for controversial remarks concerning the presence of Muslims on airplanes.
However, NPR responds that it is very careful to produce balanced news coverage, points out that it is frequently criticized by progressive groups for being too conservative, and has asked for specific examples of bias beyond the Williams situation, which it admitted was handled poorly. The Williams incident eventually cost its head news executive and chief executive their jobs.
NPR has managed to keep a low profile since, but it is still being mentioned along with things like Pell grants and Americorps.
RBR-TVBR observation: Last year’s NPR public relations fiasco involving Juan Williams cost Vivian Schiller her job and gave the public broadcaster a huge dose of unwanted and costly negative publicity. But in truth, Republicans have been trying to either slim it down or kill it off for a long time, and will likely continue to do so as long as it gets taxpayer money.
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