NPR Exec: Organization 'Better Off' Without Federal Dollars; GOP Happy to Oblige

March 8th, 2011 2:31 PM

An admission by a top executive at National Public Radio that the organization would be "better off in the long-run" without federal funding may bolster ongoing efforts to rescind that funding. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said Tuesday that he was "amazed at the condescension and arrogance" displayed by then-senior NPR executive Ron Schiller in a hidden camera video released by conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe.

The video showed Schiller telling two men posing members of an Islamic advocacy group that Tea Party activists are "racist" and "xenophobic." Schiller also claimed that NPR "would be better off in the long run without federal funding."

Republicans are prepared to oblige NPR on that score. Lamborn told Washington Examiner columnist Byron York on Tuesday that congressional Democrats and other NPR backers should "reconsider their support in light of these appalling attitudes that are displayed in the video."

"I am amazed at the condescension and arrogance that we saw in the sting video," Lamborn told me. "They seem to be viewing themselves as elites living in an ivory tower, and they are obviously out of touch with ordinary Americans."

The video has already become part of the debate currently raging on Capitol Hill about funding for NPR. "The real crux of the video was when the guy [NPR executive Ron Schiller] admitted that they could survive and would even be better off without federal funding," says Lamborn. "That's what I'm hoping happens."

Lamborn says he hopes the video will prompt Democrats in Congress to rethink their defense of taxpayer funding for NPR and of public broadcasting in general. "I hope that some of the staunch supporters of NPR and CPB will reconsider their support in light of these appalling attitudes that are displayed in the video," Lamborn says. "And I hope that once and for all we can put this issue to bed. I certainly have no desire to see them go away or to suffer. I just think and believe and totally expect that they can survive in the private market, like everyone else in the media has to."

NB publisher Brent Bozell has joined the chorus of voices calling on Congress to redouble its efforts to withdraw federal support for NPR. "This week’s utterances from NPR officials," Bozell said in a statement Tuesday, "underline that these taxpayer-funded bureaucrats loathe most of the taxpayers who feather their comfortable nest."

Schiller's comments regarding federal funding are "in direct conflict with the organization's official position," according to NPR. Schiller had also stated that in the near term, some stations could be threatened by a sudden withdrawal of federal funds.

Here's the edited video of the exchange in question. The full two-hour video can be found at the website of Veritas Visuals, O'Keefe's organization.

Update 16:25. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor released a statement similar to Lamborn's. It's reprinted below:

"As we continue to identify ways to cut spending and save valuable resources, this disturbing video makes clear that taxpayer dollars should no longer be appropriated to NPR. Not only have top public broadcasting executives finally admitted that they do not need taxpayer dollars to survive, it is also clear that without federal funds, public broadcasting stations self-admittedly would become eligible for more private dollars on top of the multi-million dollar donations these organizations already receive.

"At a time when our government borrows 40 cents of every dollar that it spends, we must find ways to cut spending and live within our means. This video clearly highlights the fact that public broadcasting doesn’t need taxpayer funding to thrive, and I hope that admission will lead to a bipartisan consensus to end these unnecessary federal subsidies."