Defunding NPR about ideology, not the budget

  Last week, the House of Representatives voted 228-192 to prevent any federal funding of National Public Radio. Previously, the House voted to cut all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which received $432 million for FY 2011. The Cynic is very alarmed by this. As a news organization, The Cynic is concerned that cutting funding for public broadcasting limits the average citizen’s access to information – both on the local and national level. The extinction of state-funded television and radio would have a significant impact in Vermont, which is largely rural and does not have many media outlets. Less than ten percent of NPR’s funding comes from federal grants. However, bereft of federal support, many NPR stations would struggle to survive. The non-partisan Office of Management and Budget stated that “Undercutting funding for these radio stations, notably ones in rural areas where such outlets are already scarce, would result in communities losing valuable programming,” warning that “some stations could be forced to shut down altogether.” House Republicans have criticized NPR because they believe it is left-leaning and does not provide balanced coverage. “Why should we allow taxpayer dollars to be used to advocate one ideology?” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said. The Cynic recognizes that it is impossible for a news organization to be completely unbiased; but we don’t believe NPR in any way presents a partisan agenda. Rather, it is a vital resource for news, weather, and local programming that 27 million Americans tune into weekly. House Republicans say they want to reduce the deficit by slashing billions from the budget, but some of their cuts – like defunding the CPB, NPR, and Planned Parenthood – won’t make a dent in the $3.7 trillion proposal president Obama has submitted. Cutting the budget by eliminating the tiniest of appropriations is like trying to eat a Vermonster with a teaspoon. The goal of public broadcasting – with NPR as a great example – is to take away the issue of cost from granting access of information to all citizens. In 2011, when the governor of Vermont needs to have on his platform the issue of broadband Internet for all, clearly, access to information is a fragile issue in rural areas throughout Vermont and the rest of the United States. When the cost is so small, yet the benefit is so great, we at The Cynic find the decision to cut funding from NPR pointless and merely ideologically driven. How can House Republicans criticize the existence of NPR as “advocat[ing] one ideology” and then in turn cutting it to further their own? It seems that, in this situation, the rules of logic have failed. The editorial staff at The Cynic hopes the House Republicans will recognize that $432 million is a miniscule amount of the budget (roughly 0.0001% to be approximate) and is one teaspoon that can be left uneaten.