Conservative politicians have been trying to defund public broadcasting for years, and the recent firing of commentator Juan Williams over comments made during an appearance on Fox News has only reinvigorated that effort. Meanwhile, NPR’s ombudsman Alicia Shepard admitted that the situation was handled poorly.
According to Politico, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) observed, “I think it’s reasonable to ask why Congress is spending taxpayers’ money to support a left-wing radio network – and in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing, it’s clearer than ever that’s what NPR is.”
Bill O’Reilly, who was hosting Williams when he made his fateful remarks, said that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) was ready to introduce legislation defunding NPR.
Should that happen specifically with NPR, its affect would be somewhat limited. Only about 2% of NPR’s annual budget comes from federal sources. However, there is concern that the incident could affect funding for all noncommercial broadcast outlets, including that received by individual stations.
NPR’s Shepard, meanwhile, said this incident has sparked a backlash unlike any the network has ever experienced.
“The overwhelming majority are angry, furious, outraged,” wrote Shepard. “They want NPR to hire him back immediately. If NPR doesn’t, they want all public funding of public radio to stop. They promise to never donate again. They are as mad as hell, and want everyone to know it. It was daunting to answer the phone and hear so much unrestrained anger.”
It has drawn a record number of response, most of it negative, although there were still many that supported the network’s decision. She said at the height of the firestorm, correspondent’s crashed NPR’s Contact Us website form.
According to reports, NPR also notes that this was another incident in a string, which is why it took action, even if it did so clumsily. It is going to examine the entire incident in the days ahead.
At least one public interest group is getting in on the act. Americans for Limited Government (ALG) is gathering signatures on a petition to defund CPB. “It is outrageous that taxpayers are forced to fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s hard left agenda,” said ALG President Bill Wilson. “It is time for Congress to save $400 million a year by cutting off their funding.”