Public broadcasting ceased long ago to reflect the views of the American public. Today, in fact, it serves coastal elites who disdain the public. Its most recent controversy is but the latest reminder of its insufferable toadyism toward Acela-corridor views—and why it should finally be weaned from the taxpayer’s dime.
Yes, I know that NPR and PBS claim that the percentage of their budget that is borne by the taxpayer—grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and “federal agencies and departments”—is in the single digits. That is misleading, as it fails to account for local radio affiliates that get gobs of taxpayer money. But let’s take them at their word. In that case, it shouldn’t be hit so hard if we tell public broadcasting to just rely on its membership model and sponsors.
Asking conservative Americans to contribute to public broadcasting’s coffers is, on the other hand, a form of despotism. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.” The dead white man from Virginia may no longer be quoted by the public broadcasters, but he still wrote the Declaration of Independence.
PBS and NPR reflect only the views of either the administrative state or the identitarian Left—regularly using, for example, the term “Latinx,” which is embraced by 2 percent of Americans of Latin background but offends 40 percent. The imposition of woke gender psychosis matters more to employees of NPR and PBS than the view of rubes named Gonzalez or Perez, who are increasingly turning conservative anyway, so they can be ignored.
The public broadcasters also religiously use, in newscasts not opinion items, such terms as “the Big Lie” and the January 6 “insurgency,” as if they were unquestioned facts and not mere phrases used only by those on the left of the American spectrum.
They pretend, in other words, that when conservatives raise questions about election integrity, it constitutes not just a lie, but the Big Lie. But when the Left does the same thing, as President Biden just did preemptively with the 2022 midterms, they nod along in sage agreement. Likewise, they assume that the riot on the Capitol constituted an insurgency, but not the many months of riots and protests that Black Lives Matter organized across the country throughout 2020.
Its latest controversy is a direct result of this woke provincialism. Nina Totenberg, the Supreme Court beat reporter at NPR, related on Thursday that Chief Justice John Roberts had asked Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch to wear a mask, and that Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor had attended hearings virtually because of Gorsuch’s behavior. All three justices have publicly denied all aspects of this story, but NPR is digging in.
I am, perhaps, in a minority that sides with NPR on this one. Sotomayor’s staff must have leaked this to Totenberg, who ran with it. Sotomayor herself then must’ve thrown Totenberg under the bus.
However, it is also clear why Totenberg ran with it. She’s a fixture of the Washington swamp, whose denizens would triple-mask to go to the restroom. Covid has given them an excuse for avoiding something they already hated doing, visiting “fly-over country,” so they are never around Americans for whom masks are anathema. Gorsuch, in not wearing a mask, was engaging in what is, to them, risky, antisocial boorishness.
NPR and PBS routinely air views that are stomach-churning to at least half of America, propounding the idea that America is systematically racist, that whites enjoy “privilege” no matter what their station in life, and that slavery is at the very center of our national narrative, constituting our sole origin story.
They use your dollars, in other words, to change your country through the use of critical race theory as well as woke gender ideology.
NPR, for example, recently carried a four-part series asserting that white kids are racist and that the Census Bureau is too white, and complaining that white congregations are using hymns written by African slaves to chant for social justice.
PBS is no better. It recently went to bat for the George Soros–backed rogue prosecutor in Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner, whose reluctance to prosecute criminals has contributed to record murder levels there.
The residents of the City of Brotherly Love who are seeing their loved ones perish, the millions of Americans who hate masks and lockdowns or who despise having their supercilious woke betters calling them names they loathe, shouldn’t have to pay to be insulted. It is outrageous that they are forced to contribute to the salary of political activists like Yamiche Alcindor who use PBS and NPR as their platforms.
In 2008, the writer David Mamet told the story of the moment he turned conservative. He and his wife “were riding along and listening to NPR,” he recalled. “I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the f*** up.”
Many of us have had that moment. For the years 2021 to 2023, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has requested half a billion dollars from Congress. Time to spend that money elsewhere.
This piece originally appeared in the National Review