Big Government – PBS’ Rich-Progressives Subsidy to Finally Get a Haircut?

by Mike Wendy on February 23, 2011

My piece in Big Government on the possible end of an era – House votes to defund PBS’ rich-progressives subsidy.


Class Warfare: PBS’ Rich-Progressives Subsidy to Get Budget Haircut

Seems in this weekend’s House deficit-cutting exercise, public media got a haircut – federal subsidies for PBS will end if the House budget holds sway.  Not surprisingly, PBS (and all its supporters in the media, blogosphere, twittersphere and on Capitol Hill), were freaking out.

As one series of highly organized “grassroots” tweets trilled:

RT @jcstearns: New House budget will NOT fund #pubmedia, #netneutrality, #epa but WILL fund gov sponsorship of Nascar via @aschweig

The DoD’s NASCAR recruiting and marketing campaigns – at about $15 million in all – survives, but PBS’ $430 million gets axed.  “Say, what?!!!”  That just isn’t right, Free Press’ Josh Stearns seemingly tweet-claims.

Perhaps Josh is on to something – that is, what’s right.  Putting on my class warfare hat for a moment, how is it right that the rich have had this subsidy for so long?

Many American’s have long-known PBS’ upper-crust focus.  Inside the beltway, it’s kind of a perennial joke (or thorn in one’s side, depending on your point of view).  The $430 million in annual federal funding – representing about 15% of PBS’ budget (they get most of their support from private sources) – is just one of those subsidies that the media and intellectuals endlessly admonish the rest of us to stop worrying about.  At $1.50 per American, per year, it’s a steal.  And besides, it helps kids, the disadvantaged, minorities, etc.

Yet, when you look at who’s actually watching PBS, and the shows they air, another picture emerges.  According to this document, 73% of the audience watching any given PBS show makes household income of $75,000 or more (with 37% of the audience actually making more than $125,000).  In comparison, Census Bureau statistics show median household income in America is just shy of $50,000.

Of course, if you’re wanting for a diversity of PBS / NPR programming on states’ rights, or the right to bear arms, or the constitutional conflict to our liberties presented by the new healthcare law – you’d be hard-pressed to find much of that there.  I guess that’s what Fox is for.

No matter.  For those who support public media (beyond simply tax dollars), America should just be quiet and accept the status quo – the PBS, rich-progressives-subsidy is an entitlement, even though every one of the shows being broadcast on the network sees numerous competitive options in the commercial marketplace, and PBS could thrive on its own without nursing off of Uncle Sam’s engorged teat if it had to.

I have to hand it to admitted socialist and Free Press founder, Robert McChesney.  He at least comes out in the open about public media’s elitist tilt. Said McChesney recently:

Most working class Americans don’t watch PBS or listen to NPR…It’s skewed heavily to middle and upper income [audiences].

So much for the “helping the disadvantaged” spin we hear so often from public media cheerleaders.  That’s because public media isn’t really about that.  As McChesney and his comrades propound, commercial media in America corrupts American democracy; it fails miserably to give citizens enough of the “right information” for us to properly self-govern. To solve this “crisis,” they want to supersize public media like PBS via a $35 billion federal fund for journalism.

McChesney sees the struggle in Manhattan Project-like terms, stating:

The way we should respond to the existential threat to journalism is the way we would respond if there was a military attack to our country…You fight back until you’re safe.  You put everything into it.  You don’t check the price tag…35 billion is a drop in the bucket.

It’s a war out there.  I’ll say!  Look at Wisconsin’s budget woes, and you get an idea. Free Press and their progressive followers remain petulantly incognizant of it, though, with the Soros-funded group breathlessly exclaiming after the House’s budget vote:

…[T]hese cuts have nothing to do with reining in spending, but everything to do with irresponsible Washington politics that would further decimate local news gathering and serious programming that goes beyond shouting heads and recycled talking points…

At the same time I’m reading this statement on Saturday, a tweet comes across my computer screen about public media’s top dog, NPR:

Hah. Listening to @garyvee talking to @NPRScottSimon about merlot on @NPRWeekend. “you’ve got to smell your wine more” with a “sniffy-sniff”

Did you know that instructions on how to properly smell one’s bottle of Merlot helps better inform citizens for self-governance?  Do we live in France?

Perhaps the House is getting something right for a change.

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