NPR Better Off Without Taxpayer Support?

J. Robert Smith
National Public Radio's outgoing fundraiser, Ron Schiller, was caught on hidden camera commenting that public broadcasting and NPR would be better off without taxpayer dollars.  But would they really? 

Shiller's candid comment about unhitching NPR from taxpayers' wallets makes eminent good sense.  Minus taxpayer largess, NPR could do away with the slightest pretense at objectivity and fairness in its news programming.  NPR could be the no-bones left-liberal outfit that it is (go ask not-liberal-enough Juan Williams about the tyranny of political correctness that infects NPR).  On second thought, what liberal news outlet would ever drop its pretensions about objectivity and fairness?  The New York Times?  

Clearly, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its allies in Congress wouldn't be fighting so hard for the estimated $430 million in annual federal subsidies (or proposed subsidies) if CPB and NPR could get along without taxpayer help. 

There's more than one reason why CPB and NPR want taxpayer support to continue.  But here's one thought.    

An ugly truth (for liberals) is that liberal news media isn't making it on its own.  Certainly, the print media - dominated by liberal outlets - are experiencing circulation drops with no bottom in sight.  Newsweek, Time, and the vaunted New York Times are all in the losers' circle.  Liberals' foray into talk radio - Air America - proved a stupendous failure.  Liberal news analysis, opinion, and discussion are finding the free market tough going. 

The Washington Post reports:

The stunning series of public gaffes comes at a time when NPR is otherwise performing admirably. Its array of news and discussion programs - from "All Things Considered" to "Car Talk" and "The Diane Rehm Show" - reached a combined weekly audience of 27 million listeners.           

If, in fact, NPR programming attracts 27 million listeners weekly, why aren't the enterprising souls at NPR aiming to cut loose from Uncle Sam's trough and aggressively market their programming to advertisers?  Are any of us to believe that there aren't advertisers across this broad land who wouldn't want to reach millions of NPR listeners?  Or if opening NPR to outright advertising is too crass for liberal sensibilities then NPR should up sponsorships... or put together smart fundraising strategies to convert a nice percentage of those 27 million listeners into contributors.  Why keep leaning on American taxpayers for support?   

Perhaps the short answer is that CPB's and NPR's liberal overlords, philosophically attuned and long habituated to government handouts, aren't constituted to operate in a free market.  Free markets entail risk and uncertainty.  Liberals are about security, not risk.  And, of course, liberals want their enterprises secured through government at taxpayers' expense.

Don't expect NPR's board to take Ron Schiller's parting advice. 

National Public Radio's outgoing fundraiser, Ron Schiller, was caught on hidden camera commenting that public broadcasting and NPR would be better off without taxpayer dollars.  But would they really? 

Shiller's candid comment about unhitching NPR from taxpayers' wallets makes eminent good sense.  Minus taxpayer largess, NPR could do away with the slightest pretense at objectivity and fairness in its news programming.  NPR could be the no-bones left-liberal outfit that it is (go ask not-liberal-enough Juan Williams about the tyranny of political correctness that infects NPR).  On second thought, what liberal news outlet would ever drop its pretensions about objectivity and fairness?  The New York Times?  

Clearly, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and its allies in Congress wouldn't be fighting so hard for the estimated $430 million in annual federal subsidies (or proposed subsidies) if CPB and NPR could get along without taxpayer help. 

There's more than one reason why CPB and NPR want taxpayer support to continue.  But here's one thought.    

An ugly truth (for liberals) is that liberal news media isn't making it on its own.  Certainly, the print media - dominated by liberal outlets - are experiencing circulation drops with no bottom in sight.  Newsweek, Time, and the vaunted New York Times are all in the losers' circle.  Liberals' foray into talk radio - Air America - proved a stupendous failure.  Liberal news analysis, opinion, and discussion are finding the free market tough going. 

The Washington Post reports:

The stunning series of public gaffes comes at a time when NPR is otherwise performing admirably. Its array of news and discussion programs - from "All Things Considered" to "Car Talk" and "The Diane Rehm Show" - reached a combined weekly audience of 27 million listeners.           

If, in fact, NPR programming attracts 27 million listeners weekly, why aren't the enterprising souls at NPR aiming to cut loose from Uncle Sam's trough and aggressively market their programming to advertisers?  Are any of us to believe that there aren't advertisers across this broad land who wouldn't want to reach millions of NPR listeners?  Or if opening NPR to outright advertising is too crass for liberal sensibilities then NPR should up sponsorships... or put together smart fundraising strategies to convert a nice percentage of those 27 million listeners into contributors.  Why keep leaning on American taxpayers for support?   

Perhaps the short answer is that CPB's and NPR's liberal overlords, philosophically attuned and long habituated to government handouts, aren't constituted to operate in a free market.  Free markets entail risk and uncertainty.  Liberals are about security, not risk.  And, of course, liberals want their enterprises secured through government at taxpayers' expense.

Don't expect NPR's board to take Ron Schiller's parting advice.