The Locker Room

York explores the future of NPR funding

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:57 AM

Byron York's latest Washington Examiner article discusses congressional Republicans' attitude toward the future of NPR funding:

For years, Republicans have wanted to cut off federal funding for National Public Radio. They tried and failed in the 1990s, but now, with a new GOP majority in the House, they're ready to try again. It's still a long shot, but they have a fighting chance.

There are two reasons House Republicans are more optimistic than before: concern over federal spending and the lingering fallout from NPR's decision to fire commentator Juan Williams.

"We're running annual deficits of over a trillion dollars," says Rep. Doug Lamborn, the Colorado Republican who has written a new bill to defund NPR. "With 500 cable TV channels, Internet on people's cell phones, satellite radio, we have so many sources of media that we don't need a government-subsidized source of media."

Lamborn introduced an NPR-defunding bill last year but couldn't get much support. That changed in October when NPR fired Williams for confessing that he sometimes gets nervous when people in Muslim garb board airplanes. "Before the Juan Williams issue came up, it really wasn't on a lot of people's radar screens," says Lamborn. "People said, 'Oh, you can't go against Big Bird.' "

The "Big Bird" argument -- that defunding public broadcasting would kill beloved programming like "Sesame Street" -- is the oldest plea in the book for defenders of government-funded media. But Lamborn's narrowly focused bill is aimed specifically at NPR, and not at all of public broadcasting.

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