Is Government-Funded Media a Good Idea? Matt Welch, Nick Gillespie, Others Weigh in. Plus, a True Tale of "Monkey Bras"
On Friday, Reason's Matt Welch wrote about why NPR, PBS, and CPB should not receive taxpayer subsidies:
Though it's frequently dressed up in (bogus) economics, the obscene practice of handing out tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to finance state-of-the-art professional sporting venues is at heart a cultural question, too. Some of us (raises hand) love to spend our leisure time at nice ballparks, some of our wives (hi, honey!) believe that live professional baseball is "the death of the soul." Why should she be forced to pay one dime to the Washington Nationals?
This week's brouhaha has underlined the single biggest problem with public broadcasting from the fan's point of view: namely, that with taxpayer financing, no matter how small, inevitably comes political considerations and even outright interference.
What did Sting teach us? If you love someone, set them free. Should NPR lose its federal funding tomorrow, we would see the mother of all pledge drives, and I would be first in line to contribute. As a friend told me this week, "I would actually start giving them money if they'd stop taking it from me." NPR has one the best media brands in the country; you don't think George Soros would be willing to up his annual contribution to cover the shortfall?
Last October, after Sen. Jim "You can't be fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative" DeMint (R-S.C.) called for the ending of taxpayer support of NPR, PBS, and CPB, I appeared on the great show On the Media (yes, funded by taxpayers like YOU) to discuss the issue. Because of the recent fooferaw stemming from the current NPR flap, that show has been rebroadcast. Here's the new writeup:
Take the Public Out of Public Broadcasting
March 11, 2011 In October 2010, Republican incumbent Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner titled, "Let NPR fend for itself on the market." Well, let's discuss. In a time of reckless deficit spending, should government money for public broadcasting, however small, get the ax? Reason.com editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie says yes. Public media was created to serve "the public interest," says Gillespie. And what exactly does that mean?
Is it just me, or does Betsy Liley look like she's playing Princess Leia in a home-made Star Wars vid in that screen cap?
Here's a final note on the subject (besides the command that you read all of Reason's coverage on public broadcasting):
If the O'Keefe videos are ultimately debunked as super-heavily-edited frauds (not having listened to the full versions out there, I've got no idea; my opposition to public funding of media is not predicated upon official malfeasance or unseemly behavior) remember who did that spade-work: It was Glenn Beck's The Blaze, a new-fangled media org by a guy regularly written off as being crazy for Cocoa Puffs and worse.
Put simply, you won't find a better breakdown of possible weirdness in the editing of the videos that have been released than in the story "Does Raw Video of NPR Expose Reveal Questionable Editing & Tactics?" And when Slate and other establishment-style sources start taking credit for sniffing around the edges of this story, just remember the real work was done by a truly freakazoid new media site that was also running a story called "Woman Appears in Va. Court Donning 'Monkey Bra.'"
Update: As Kolohe notes below in the comments, state-sponsored Russian media does love Reason, it seems.