Congress must finally eliminate the flow of taxpayer dollars to biased NPR 

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The government should not be in the business of funding the news. More accurately, the government should not be in the business of forcing taxpayers to fund the news. Actually, the government should not be borrowing the money to fund the news, and then sticking hardworking taxpayers with the bill. Doing so is even more egregious when the news organization has a clear bias that is offensive to half of the country. 

Earlier this month, Uri Berliner, a former top National Public Radio (NPR) editor, made national headlines with his scathing review of his own organization, claiming it has “lost America’s trust.” Berliner tore into the way NPR had successfully whittled its audience down to one ideological subset of the population. NPR did this through its mishandling of stories such as debunked accusations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, the Hunter Biden laptop scandal and the origins of COVID-19. Berliner resigned from NPR shortly after his criticism of the lack of viewpoint diversity at NPR, and its firm embrace of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies.

I can remember listening to NPR during my college years and as a young professional in the mid to late 1980s. Granted, there weren’t many news options on the radio in those days, and even 40 years ago, NPR was certainly a left-leaning network. But it maintained some allegiance to fairness, accuracy and the pursuit of truth. It was still reasonably true to its mission of being an educational news source, and to “speak with many voices, many dialects.”

I listened in those days to Daniel Schorr, Cokie Roberts and Nina Totenberg on shows such as “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” Back then, even liberal journalists placed a premium on holding government accountable, even Democrats in government.

Unfortunately, now 55 years since its founding, NPR has long strayed far from its journalistic roots, and become a primary outlet for advancing the biased, partisan, hard-left view of political and moral issues. The reporting has evolved into commentary infected by Trump Derangement Syndrome, Democratic talking points and anti-American sentiment. While this may be objectionable to a significant portion of the country, we should all respect the First Amendment protections that guarantee this option for both NPR and its listening audience. But it absolutely should not be funded by the government. 

On July 4, 2022, NPR broke a 33-year tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence on our nation’s birthday. It decided that day to instead focus on Thomas Jefferson and his relationship with his slave Sally Hemmings. NPR then updated previous readings of the Declaration in its archives with an editor’s note, warning of a racial slur and offensive language contained in the Declaration.

More recently, former Wikimedia CEO Katherine Maher assumed her role last month as NPR’s new president and CEO, and has proven adept at inserting DEI and censorship into the newsroom. In a recently resurfaced video, Maher bemoans that the First Amendment poses “the No. 1 challenge” to her campaign against disinformation, insisting that platforms ought to be able to censor what content gets published.

Similarly, Maher blamed her previous workplace’s bias on it being overwhelmingly “European” and “written by men,” allegedly barring the voices of women and other non-traditional gender identities.

So, why do we force Americans to help pay Maher’s salary and contribute nearly $100 million annually to NPR? Imagine the outrage from Democrats and their allies in traditional media organizations if taxpayers were forced to fund a conservative news outlet.

It is no secret that our country is in a fiscal state of emergency. We are running an average monthly deficit of approximately $200 billion. We have racked up nearly $35 trillion in national debt and are on track to reach $37 trillion by the end of 2024.

This is why I recently introduced the Defund NPR Act, to finally end this unjust subsidy, and once-and-for-all eliminate the use of taxpayer dollars to directly or indirectly fund NPR. Under current law, NPR can receive even more federal funds than are specifically authorized for the outlet. This is because public radio stations that receive federal grants must use 26 percent of those funds for production or the acquisition of programming, including programming for national distribution, which for many stations means purchasing programming from NPR.

Despite NPR’s new CEO’s disdain for our Constitution, the First Amendment still protects the critical and foundational right to a free and open press. If the new leadership at NPR chooses to be more open and explicit about their leftward bent, then so be it, as long as Americans do not have to pay for it.

It is time to stop borrowing money to fund NPR. We can, and should, cut NPR in the appropriations process either this year or when we have a president in the White House next year who cares about fighting biased news.

Trust in journalism is at a historic low, rivaling that of Congress, because too often Americans are not presented both sides of the story, and are instead fed a one-sided narrative with an agenda. That shouldn’t be done on the taxpayer dime. There is a lot of work to be done to clean up woke, wasteful and even harmful spending in Washington, but defunding biased media is a start.

Bob Good represents the 5th District of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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