PBS GOP plan: Don't hold your breath.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Feb. 10 2011 3:03 PM

GOP PBS NPR DOA?

The nine stages of not eliminating public broadcasting's subsidy.

Harold Rogers.

The new chairman of the House appropriations committee, Harold Rogers, R-Ky., has proposed zeroing out the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds public television and radio. This is far from the most troublesome of the GOP's proposed budget cuts (among other things, the plan also calls for zeroing out Americorps and family-planning funds, and it slashes the Environmental Protection Agency's budget), but it's getting big headlines because everybody has a television and a radio and nobody wants to see Scott Simon's children go hungry. In singling out CPB, Rogers and other House Republicans are initiating a familiar Washington ritual: the nine stages of not eliminating government broadcast funds.

Stage 1. Scream and yell about an unacceptably liberal gesture by NPR or PBS. In this case that was the baseless firing of Juan Williams. In years past, it was PBS giving aid and comfort to Bill Moyers, Frontline, and Stanley Karnow.

Stage 2. Threaten to eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which collects and distributes federal funds to public broadcasters. (See Gingrich, Newt, 1995.)

Stage 3.   Introduce legislation to eliminate CPB. (See Crane, Phil, 1997.)

Advertisement

Stage 4. Discover CPB's annual appropriation looms pretty small (currently $445 million) in a federal government whose annual spending is in the trillions.

Stage 5. Discover that CPB, in a time-tested Washington trick, gives most of its money to local stations, which in turn give money to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. This (legal) money-laundering scheme makes congressional districts around the country consciously dependent on and loyal to CPB.

Stage 6. Discover that NPR and PBS have developed a deep interest not merely in your conservative political views but in your entire Weltanschauung and put you on the air all the time.

Stage 7. Discover that most public broadcasting officials, no matter what their politics, would rather die than be identified publicly with liberalism and will strangle overtly left-leaning content long before you hear about it. (See Allen, Woody, squelched Nixon parody, 1972.)

Stage 8. Discover that despite their terror of anything that might be labeled left-wing propaganda, public broadcasters will, after remarkably little bullying, gladly broadcast more right-wing propaganda than even Grover Norquist can tolerate.

Stage 9. Decide you have bigger fish to fry, and make your peace with public broadcasting. They're not such bad folks after all!

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Why Not Just Turn Campus Rape Allegations Over to the Police? Because the Police Don't Investigate.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.