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Topic subjectFrom today's NY Times
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=22&topic_id=33275&mesg_id=33323
33323, From today's NY Times
Posted by PolarbearToenails, Wed Jun-15-05 04:41 PM
Squelching Public Broadcasting
Published: June 15, 2005

Do little boys and girls out there know how to spell "spite"? For those who don't, the House Republicans who voted last week to gut federal support of public broadcasting - from "Sesame Street" to well beyond - are offering a graphic demonstration as they attack one of the nation's more valued institutions. The Appropriations Committee voted not only to end taxpayers' support for next year's children's shows on public radio and television (yes, "Clifford the Big Red Dog" and "Postcards from Buster," too), but also to close out entirely the $400 million in federal support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting - the aid funnel to local stations - across the next two years.

A decade ago, Newt Gingrich tried a similar stratagem to "zero out" public broadcasting as Republicans claimed there was liberal bias in programming. The attempt failed in the face of cooler legislative heads and the proven indispensability of public broadcasting. This time, the Republicans' campaign is more threatening since it amounts to a second front in the culture war agenda identified with Kenneth Tomlinson, the Republican who is now chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Mr. Tomlinson is intent on ramming partisan "balance" on the airwaves - read that as dragging public broadcasting over to the right - by stocking the corporation with G.O.P. loyalists. In the next few weeks, the corporation's Republican-dominated board is expected to choose a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee as president of the corporation.

Mr. Tomlinson has said he is concerned about the cuts and will "make the case" for federal support. But he is in an awkward position, with his own objectivity more in question than Big Bird's or Buster's. Federal money amounts to 15 percent of public broadcasting's budget revenues, but it plays a larger and particularly crucial role for smaller rural stations. More than government support, the public's faith and donations could be threatened if audiences sense the Republicans are succeeding with an ideological putsch.

Republican lawmakers insist that the budget cuts are only one of many sacrifices required for fiscal discipline - a truly laughable contention from a Congress that has broken all records for deficit spending and borrowing. The pending highway bill alone has 3,800 pet projects (cue Porky Pig, not Oscar the Grouch). These include $2 billion-plus for two ludicrous "bridges to nowhere" in rural Alaska, where, incidentally, station officials say public broadcasting may fade from the air unless the Senate blocks the House's spiteful cuts.