National Public Radio's continued efforts to present itself as a politically-neutral news operation may suffer a bit from one of the organization's endorsements: that of the far-left activist group MoveOn.org.
MoveOn, which has received significant funding from liberal billionaire George Soros, started a petition recently to push Congress to "protect NPR and PBS and guarantee them permanent funding, free from political meddling." The endorsement is telling, given MoveOn's hard-left ideology. Would it really be pushing for continued federal funding for NPR if it didn't think the organization was serving its agenda somehow?
NPR itself has received $1.8 million in financial support from Soros, so this is not the first sign (beyond its actual news content, of course) that NPR advances - in one way or another, and whether it intends to or not - a leftist agenda. The ideological synergy is evident just in the groups offering NPR their support, MoveOn being the latest.
The claim NPR appeals to a liberal audience is not confined to political groups, either. Even a member of the organization's Distribution/Interconnect Committee has acknowledged that NPR serves "a core audience that is predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite." So support from MoveOn is hardly shocking.
MoveOn.org, the left-wing pressure group, is promoting a petition that urges Congress to “protect NPR and PBS and guarantee them permanent funding, free from political meddling.’’ Yet political “meddling’’ is the inescapable price of taking political dollars. Conservatives would complain about NPR’s liberal tilt no matter where its funding came from, just as liberals complain about the conservative tilt of Fox News. But if NPR were no longer on the government dole, its political leanings would no longer be a congressional issue. The budget storms in Washington pose no threat to Fox because Fox doesn’t run on taxpayer money. They wouldn’t threaten NPR either — if only NPR would give up its subsidy.
UPDATE (2:15): Jacoby touches on the bizarre notion that continuing to fund NPR using taxpayer dollars is preventing "political meddling." MoveOn.org is not the only left-wing group to offer that completely illogical reasoning. The neo-Marxist media reform group Free Press has also offered that srange line of argument.
Free Press's managing director wrote in the Huffington Post on Tuesday (emphasis added):
...it's time for public broadcasting to end its abusive relationship with Congress. That means not just pushing back to restore these funding cuts and denounce the dirty tricks being used by public media's opponents, but finding ways to ensure long-term support for PBS, NPR and, most importantly, those local community stations that is free from the political whims in Washington.
By this bizarre reasoning, congressionally-appropriated funding frees public broadcasters from political pressures. If that seems counterintuitive, it means you're paying attention (h/t Jon Henke).
Note also that Free Press is quite open about its desire to use federal control over media to help in the implementation of a very leftist political agenda. That makes it yet another group whose support of NPR chips away at the latter's claim to political neutrality.