President Donald Trump’s first on page 11 labeled, “America First,” ends federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) — which, in turn, supports National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
The left is howling, and local public radio stations are already campaigning to oppose the move. Democrats are spamming supporters with fundraising emails. Yet there are several reasons that ending federal funding for NPR and PBS is a great idea.
1. They do not need the money. In 2011, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas secretly recorded senior NPR executives meeting with a potential donor and admitting that NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding.” NPR reports that it “receives less than 2 percent of its budget directly from CPB,” and has long anticipated the possibility of losing that.
2. Big Bird doesn’t work there anymore. In 2015, Sesame Street‘s production company signed a deal with HBO. The first HBO-hosted shows began in 2016, and only aired nine months later on PBS for children from less affluent households.
3. NPR is biased in favor of liberals and against conservatives. NPR’s political coverage is consistently slanted against Republicans and conservatives, and in favor of liberals. The network also takes aim at conservative rivals: last week, for example, it accused Breitbart News, falsely, of producing “fake news.” It also churns out such fare as Code Switch, which often reinforces racial identity. Using taxpayer funds to support one-sided news coverage is an abuse of taxpayer money.
4. PBS no longer produces content worth public investment. As Steven Titch noted recently at The Hill:
It has superb shows, such as Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Frontline. But as Sesame Street’s defection demonstrated, most of these programs could easily find a place on commercial cable and streaming outlets. The remainder of PBS programming approaches self-parody: examples such as Golf’s Grand Design, Great Old Amusement Parks and Andre Rieu: Waltzing Forever.
The argument for public television—that it offers an exclusive place for quality content and entertainment that would be too narrow, too marginal and too unprofitable for commercial TV—is risible in an age of hundreds of cable channels and near-unlimited streaming.
5. Conservatives have been promising to cut funding for decades. Newt Gingrich and the Republican Revolution of 1994 wanted to cut federal funding for PBS and NPR, but failed. When the Tea Party took over the House in 2010, they likewise failed to pass the promised cuts. This time, conservatives control both houses of Congress.
The taxpayers helped launch NPR and PBS. It is well past time to let them go. They will probably do better on their own — and be less of a political target.