It seems that the Tea Party has a new boogeyman…Big Bird. As a titanic budget battle looms on Capitol Hill, Republican threats to zero CPB funding are making news. The defense of PBS and NPR has even become a Facebook cause du jour, as ‘170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting’ offers up the most concerted “Save PBS” campaign to date. Whether it is the GOP’s lingering outrage at NPR’s controversial firing of Juan Williams, or their current fever to defund any bastion of liberalism, PBS and NPR do seem more vulnerable than usual. Whether the CPB can continue to duck the budget axe, only time will tell. In a recent revelation exposed by some rather dubious undercover journalists, Ron Schiller, President of the NPR Foundation and Senior Vice President of Development, seems certain that NPR could not only survive without its appropriation, it might be better off:
Clearly this video will only further the Tea Party’s arguments, but still, Mr. Schiller does raise an important question. What if public broadcasting could carry on without a federal appropriation? With proper time and planning to develop the right funding system, PBS and NPR might minimize the pain in the short run, and in the long run, they could write their own checks someday. Without a strategy in place, those checks will bounce before they’re written.
UPDATE: The New York Times reports that Mr. Schiller has resigned, and it has come to light that James O’Keefe, the right wing provocateur known for his controversial undercover ACORN videos, also orchestrated this video sting.