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Rough Times Continue for NPR

NPR likes to report the news, not be the news. But their preferred standing got inverted today when when the U.S. House voted to defund public broadcasting. Last week an ambush video forced the resignation of network CEO Vivian Schiller. Today's House vote is not expected to be upheld in the Senate.

Rough times for public broadcasting began last year when NPR fired Juan Williams for saying, on a Fox News show, that people in Muslim dress make him nervous when they fly on the same airplane. Williams’ political incorrectness caused a stir among some members of the public. His role as a commentator on controversial issues caused a stir with his bosses at NPR.

Williams' firing caused the greatest stir of all.


Public radio appointed a panel to address the commentary issue, and their recommendations were reported in the public broadcasting trade paper Current. Read the article yourself, but what jumped out at me was the recommendation that NPR eliminate the “news analyst” position, which has been held by Williams, Daniel Schorr and Cokie Roberts. The article suggested this would help “clarify” the distinction between reporting and commentary.

Apparently, all this will be addressed when they revamp their ethics code later in the year.

Funding of public broadcasting is occasionally imperiled, typically by the GOP which now controls the House. KPBS general manager Tom Karlo made the case for continuing funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in an op-ed piece in today’s Union-Tribune. The opposing argument was made by a “political activist” named Steve Quinn.