When you can listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity for free, who needs NPR? It reaches 33 million listeners through its member stations, with its 36 bureaus and offices around the world, and local coverage produced by more than 270 independent NPR member public radio stations across the country. Republicans hate that. In the House of Representatives they voted their conscience, and this tells us everything we need to know. It’s not about the money.
Four decades ago, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. In his comments about the new law, President Johnson said, “I believe the time has come to enlist the computer and the satellite, as well as television and radio, and to enlist them in the cause of education.” He further prophesied, “Think of the lives that this would change:--the student in a small college could tap the resources of a great university.”
To provide programming not generally available commercially was the idea that congress foresaw at the time. Lawmakers envisioned educational shows and cultural enrichment programs, not to mention informing the electorate through news programming and in-depth analysis of current issues. Another objective was to make such programs available to less affluent Americans and residents of small communities and rural areas.
The law that created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting says, “It is in the public interest for the Federal Government to ensure that all citizens of the United States have access to public telecommunications services through all appropriate available telecommunications distribution technologies.”
However, the prescience of Johnson’s comments and the nobility of the legal language evaporated when a hidden camera captured NPR executive Ron Shiller saying that NPR would be better off without federal funding. But that’s not all. Shiller also ripped into the tea party movement as a bunch of “gun toting racists,” adding “and not just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic.”