Juan Williams and the ridiculous conservative push to defund public broadcasting

It's nothing new for conservatives to have a reverse-boner for the "liberal media" -- take Sarah Palin, for example, who cited the mean ol' media as a chief reason for her abandonment of the Alaska governorship, interestingly to pursue a career in media commentary with the decidedly non-liberal Fox News. But Fox News, apparently, doesn't count. Because the real culprits within the communist media hate-machine, rather, are huddled in the anti-America bunker that is public broadcasting -- why, Juan Williams just goes to show you: Can you believe NPR would fire that guy just for saying some racist shit? Or, um, telling the truth about Muslims as a broad, vaguely menacing stereotype that alarms conservatives by being unfamiliar? Sarah Palin can't.

Last week, Williams, who up until then split his time between news analysis for NPR and commentary on Fox News, made some waves when he made the following statement on the Bill O'Reilly Show: "I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot... You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Well, sir, I believe you've just negated your opening remarks. Here's a recasting, applied to a different ethnic group: "I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot... But when I see black people all dressed up like black people sometimes dress, I start to think maybe they're going to mug me and smoke crack cocaine."

So convinced was NPR of the inaccuracy of that opening assessment that the public radio network gave him the old heave-ho by midweek, whereupon he was immediately and predictably hired by Fox News. As reasoning for the firing, NPR stated that the Williams' remarks had "undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR." Seems fair.

Not so fast, because NPR is funded by Tax Dollars, which, as it does with anything that receives a modicum of public support, means that conservatives start bitching about the Tax Dollars as soon as that thing does something they vaguely have the sense they might not care for. Hence, light up the torches and gather the pitchforks: Here comes the angry, illiterate mob.

At the head of which, of course, is Palin and her ilk. Here's her proposition, which will fix those liberals real good while at that same time solving all of America's financial problems:

At a time when our country is dangerously in debt and looking for areas of federal spending to cut, I think we've found a good candidate for defunding. National Public Radio is a public institution that directly or indirectly exists because the taxpayers fund it. And what do we, the taxpayers, get for this? We get to witness Juan Williams being fired from NPR for merely speaking frankly about the very real threat this country faces from radical Islam.

Another answer to that rhetorical question might be "a reliable, in-depth news source," but, uh, whatever. The most shocking thing about the backlash, though, has been that it's not just crazy ol' Sarah Palin whipping up the bandwagon; actual, sitting congress-people agree. South Carolinian Senator (senator!) Jim DeMint is -- get this -- in the process of drafting legislation to completely defund public broadcasting. That is not even made up.

Here's how DeMint casts it:

NPR and PBS get about 15 percent of their total budget through federal funding, so these programs should be able to find a way to stand on their own. With record debt and unemployment, there's simply no reason to force taxpayers to subsidize liberal programming they disagree with. We can't keep borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars from China each year to fund public radio and public TV when there are so many choices already in the market for news and entertainment. If CPB is defunded taxpayers will save billions. This is just one of the many cuts Congress should make next year."

Note that first sentence, and then note that DeMint goes on to state, not 100 words later in the same press release, that "The Corporation for Public Broadcasting receives virtually all of its funding through federal appropriations." Huh. So does that mean they shouldn't be able to stand on their own, or... Does it even matter? While we're on the subject of self-contradiction, DeMint also says that "taxpayers will save billions" -- but let's look at that math.

According to DeMint's own statistics, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will receive $430 million in government subsidies in 2011; with the population of the U.S. hovering around 307 million, that breaks down roughly to $1.40 per taxpayer per annum. Well, that doesn't sound so fucking bad then, does it? Particularly considering that the U.S. military budget in 2009 came in at a little over $663 trillion; in case you're wondering, that's costing you well over $2,000 per year. And I don't even agree with the military.

But whatever. Here's what I propose: If conservatives are going to bitch about paying a measly $1.40 per year at NPR, then I'm willing to pony up. Fuck it, I'll throw $2 per year at Fox News and every talk radio station so they can expand their auspices and shove even more racist ideology down the throats of America's hate-lapping rubes. Why not? It's worth it to me for a credible news source -- not that Sarah Palin ever cared about credibility.

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte