Congressional Republicans: Cut Off NPR’s Federal Funds

Posted October 22, 2010 at 3:44pm

Republicans have never had much love for National Public Radio.

But NPR’s Wednesday firing of commentator Juan Williams over comments he made about Muslims received a wave of criticism from the right and has given the GOP another reason to pull the radio outlet’s federal funds.

As recently as June, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) introduced a bill to end federal funding for public broadcasting entities such as NPR.

According to NPR, about 2 percent of its funding comes from federal government sources such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, but its member stations rely more heavily on such sources.

NPR announced early Thursday morning that Williams’ contract had been terminated after he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that “people who are in Muslim garb” boarding an airplane make him “nervous” during an appearance on the “O’Reilly Factor” Wednesday night.

Williams on Friday signed a $2 million contract with Fox News.

Congressional Republicans on Friday pounced on NPR’s decision, saying that it was clear that the station was catering to the left and therefore should not receive federal funds.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) said in a statement that he expects Republicans will move to eliminate public funding of entities like NPR as part of their campaign to reduce spending.

“Whether or not one agrees with Juan Williams’ point of view, he has every right to express it,” Price said. “Considering Washington now runs annual deficits of $1.3 trillion or more, funding a radio network whose executives care more about political correctness than honest and open discussion sounds like a poor use of taxpayer money.”

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement that he would make sure NPR’s funding was included in the GOP’s YouCut program so the public could vote on whether it should be removed from the federal rolls.

“NPR’s decision to fire Juan Williams not only undermines that, it shows an ignorance of the fact that radical Islam and the terrorists who murder in its name scare people of all faiths, religions, and beliefs,” Cantor said.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the National Review Online it was reasonable to ask, “why Congress is spending taxpayers’ money to support a left-wing radio network — and in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing, it’s clearer than ever that’s what NPR is.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pledged to introduce legislation to pull funding in the Senate.

“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,” DeMint said.

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller defended her operation’s actions against Williams in a Thursday interview on NPR.

“Our reporters, our hosts and our news analysts should not be injecting their own views about a controversial issue as part of their story,” she said. “They should be reporting the story.”