DeMint Calls For Defunding Noncoms

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Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said Friday he will introduce a bill to defund NPR and PBS.

That came in the wake of NPR's firing of Juan Williams for comments about Muslims made on The O'Reilly Factor.
"Once again we find the only free speech liberals support is the speech with which they agree. The incident with Mr. Williams shows that NPR is not concerned about providing the listening public with an honest debate of today's issues, but rather with promoting a one-sided liberal agenda," said DeMint.

Currently, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding for PBS and NPR is $430 million for 2011. CPB hands out the government funds, which are only about 15% of noncom budgets, the rest coming from viewer donations, grants, and corporate underwriting.

"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," said DeMint.

Free Press denounced DeMint's plans. "This is nothing more than political opportunism by figures who have made their careers on these types of shenanigans," said Free Press president Josh Silver in a statement. "Calling to defund a public institution that is one of the few sources of original, in-depth journalism and educational programming - based on NPR's personnel decision - is like calling for the death penalty in small claims court."

It was at least the second attack on public broadcasting this week.

Media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting earlier this week released its third study of PBS's NewsHour, and said that it featured sources "from a narrow range of elite white male experts," which it argues was a "failure" of its mission to provide inclusive alternatives to commercial news.

"As in its previous studies of the PBS NewsHour (1990 and 2006), FAIR seems to be accusing us of covering the people who make decisions that affect people's lives, many of whom work in government, the military, or corporate America," Linda Winslow, executive produce of PBS NewsHour said in response. "That's what we do: we're a news program, and that's who makes news."

Republicans have periodically threatened to cut or cut out noncom funding over various issues, including the perceived liberal bias in some shows and, on at least one occasion, anger over a kids show, Postcards From Buster (produced with Department of Education money), that featured some two-momie families.

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