Last week, Reactionary Conservatives escalated their longtime war on public broadcasting when House Republicans called an emergency session and waived the normal rules of the House to pass a bill to completely defund NPR.
As a board member of People For the American Way for many years, I am proud of the work the organization has done in the past to stand up to right-wing attacks against NPR and PBS, and I'm outraged at the GOP's willingness to slash funding for public broadcasting while protecting tax cuts for the rich. That's why I joined PFAW's emergency petition telling the Senate to stand up for NPR.
You and I might not think that defunding NPR counts as an "emergency," especially not when millions of Americans are out of work and events around the world, like Japan, appear so out of control.
But the GOP was rushing to respond to a severely doctored video of NPR executives which was still being pushed by right-wing activists even after it was thoroughly debunked. Republicans in Congress were rushing to appeal to their extremist base regardless of what the truth may be.
It's clear that Republicans in this Congress are more eager than they have ever been to serve up every item on the Far Right's agenda. And worse, they don't even have the guts to cop to it.
Freshman Republican Rep. Rich Nugent of Florida said, "We are not trying to harm NPR ... we are actually trying to liberate them from federal tax dollars." But the removal of the mere $5 million in public funding from NPR's budget would mean that hundreds of stations in rural and low-income areas would have to shut down.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor was clear in his statements that NPR was being targeted because of supposed liberal bias in NPR's reporting. Although "liberal bias" at NPR has been a favorite right-wing talking point for years, most see NPR's reporting of the news as among the most responsible and balanced in the media, and the "sting operation" which allegedly showed that bias was proven to be a fraud.
And right-wing Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said, "It's about saving taxpayer money." But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the bill overall would have "no effect" on government spending.