Since Newt Gingrich is the GOP primary flavor of the week, let’s consider what his hypothetical presidency might mean for PBS. First, let’s remember that defunding the CPB and privatizing PBS were among Newt’s first agenda items when he rose to power in 1995. He has consistently branded PBS with a liberal bias, even though Pat Mitchell once offered him his own town hall talk show. In short, plastering Big Bird with advertisements may be Mitt Romney’s latest “starve the beast” talking point, but it’s been an article of faith for Gingrich for nearly two decades. As for the fading star that is Rick Santorum, he actually has lukewarm praise for PBS, but still supports cuts to the CPB; just not to direct funding to local broadcasters. Santorum’s logic may seem moderate by comparison, but cuts to the CPB would necessarily hit and hobble local broadcasters, so his thinking is either unworkably muddled or politically barbed. And while libertarian heartthrob Ron Paul has balked on bills to slash PBS in the past, his grassroots minions seem to champion motions like a New Hampshire bill to deny public broadcasting any state money.
Come November, no matter who earns the GOP nomination, defunding PBS and NPR is clearly going to be a platform plank. The time is now to build an unimpeachable case for PBS’ future. For those who care to defend the appropriation, Lawrence Dabney at The Faster Times has posted a rather telling pie chart illustrating the drop in the bucket that CPB’s appropriation actually represents at .003% of the federal budget. Click here and you can also play around with this extremely cool New York Times Treemap of the Obama’s 2012 budget proposal and search for ‘Corporation for Public Broadcasting’. Note that CPB’s appropriation is down nearly 11% from last year at not quite $4 per household. FIXPBS just believes that the appropriation has never been a safe bet, and is, at best, in danger of being negotiated down to Santorum levels of incapacity. We prefer a jujitsu approach that appropriates conservative logic in order to secure PBS a license fee and trust fund in the name of free market thinking.