Congressman Joe Barton, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that authorizes spending for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, sent a letter Friday to Media Research Center President Brent Bozell about his call for an investigation in the firing of Juan Williams by National Public Radio. Barton agreed with Bozell's call for an investigation, and that "if voters decide to invest their trust in Republicans and the decision falls to me, I think that a hearing into this business would be valuable" to his committee. The text of the letter is below.
You are right about the mess at National Public Radio, which is on public display again after the discharge of liberal commentator Juan Williams as punishment for expressing an opinion that offended NPR's leadership.
I don't think Mr. Williams or any of his many views require much defense from Congress, but that's not really the issue, is it? What does demand a fair inquiry and an honest baring of the facts is the evident matter of this taxpayer-supported entity suppressing one man's free speech.
NPR calls itself a champion of the First Amendment, but it seems to be something less when it dislikes the content of the free speech. The network didn't like what Mr. Williams said, so it terminated his paycheck.
Unlike NPR's donors, the taxpayers who may or may not agree with NPR's slant on current events have no choice but to support it because Congress says so. Taxpayers don't have a say unless we step forward and assert their rights. That's why when we reconvene, I agree that Congress should take a look at how their money is being used or, as seems so likely in this case, misused.
I can't speak for the Democrats who now run House of Representatives, but if voters decide to invest their trust in Republicans and the decision falls to me, I think that a hearing into this business would be valuable to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
On the Senate side, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said Friday that he will introduce a bill to eliminate federal funding for the CPB. "Once again we find the only free speech liberals support is the speech with which they agree," DeMint said. "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."