NPR Blasts Public Broadcasting -- When It's Anti-Castro

August 27th, 2006 4:14 PM

Sorry, this item is a bit dated. On last weekend's edition of "On The Media" on National Public Radio, host Bob Garfield devoted a segment to the utter, outrageous waste of public broadcasting. Oops, no, not that public broadcasting, but U.S. propaganda broadcasts to Cuba. (Forgive me for chortling whenever a government-funded news outlet denounces another government-funded news outlet. It ought to come with a disclaimer. "We here at National Public Radio believe deeply in biting the hand that feeds us -- hard.") 

Garfield began by reporting on TV Marti's satire show, "The Office of the Chief," that mocks Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. In the chair normally occupied by El Jefe was his brother Raul Castro, "waxing about his 59 luxury homes and barking orders at his staff." After a clip, Garfield instructed:

"The Cuban government isn't laughing. For years, it's insisted the penetration of their airwaves violates international law. But the real joke may be on the Americans, because while the U.S. has spent close to a half billion dollars on TV and Radio Marti, the Cuban government has managed to effectively block the transmission signal, at least on the TV side. Viewership on the island is estimated to be a third of one percent. One study several years ago found that nine out of ten Cubans had never even heard of the channel."

Garfield's guest was leftist John Nichols -- no, not the Wisconsin version who writes for The Nation -- but a different leftist John Nichols, professor at Penn State. Garfield began by noting that the Marti efforts were based on Radio Free Europe, but that wasn't politicized like the Cuban equivalents. But the liberal bias really kicked in when Garfield asked:

"So in response to the overwhelming success of the project and the jamming by the Cuban government, the United States has just appropriated another 10 million dollars, on top of the 27-million-dollar annual budget for these two operations, for an airplane that is supposed to fly nearer to the Cuban coast and therefore to defeat the jamming of the TV signal. How in the world did they get that 10 million dollars at a time when everything else in the budget is being cut way back?"

It's about here in the interview where you should probably laugh heartily and move on. Most anchormen today are quick to note that conservatives are frustrated since under President Bush, almost nothing has been cut back, and Bush hasn't mustered a veto on a spending bill. How hard would Washington reporters have to work to find something else in the budget being "cut way back"? Without their usual Democratic talking points, I mean. What hyperbole.