Former radio station group owner Greg Walden (R-OR), who now heads the key House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, said he understands the need for public broadcasting and its need for funding, but he added that the recent travails at NPR cannot help but have consequences.
Walden said he already voted in the affirmative on a Republican spending measure that proposes to zero out funding for CPB. He said it was a matter of what we can afford in a time when the deficit is forcing the government to borrow “40 cents on the dollar.”
Walden appeared on C-SPAN’s Communicator series over the weekend, and noted that any incident which rankles a major part of either party is bad at this point in time, and that the NPR video is particularly ill-timed. A clip of Walden’s remarks is available below.
Meanwhile, some who are supporters of public broadcasting are criticizing NPR for caving in to critics in the wake of the ambush video, noting that it had no effect whatsoever other than making public broadcasting executives look weak. If anything, calls to defund CPB, PBS and NPR have only gotten louder after the departure of NPR leader Vivian Schiller, who some described as a visionary leader who was helping establish her organization in the digital space. Jay Rosen said that the medium has to realize it is under attack, and has always been under attack, for political reasons, and has to be prepared to play politics just as hard as its critics. It was also suggested that NPR forgo federal money in an effort to save cash infusions for individual stations that need it more.
The National Association of Black Journalists also decried the exit of Schiller, who is said had made great strides in improving employee diversity at NPR. NABJ is also concerned about the departure of Cheryl Hampton’s as Director of News Staff Development on the same grounds. It said, “NABJ is greatly concerned that this change, combined with the expertise lost with Hampton’s departure on Friday, will prove a setback to NPR’s progress. NABJ challenges NPR to go beyond the relationship we had with Schiller and make a commitment to diversity at the highest level.”