CPB funding issue caught in middle of an old debate

I have not written about the effort to strip the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of its funding for a couple of reasons. First, I have an obvious interest in the outcome and I try not to write about the obvious. Two, I don’t want to be appearing to shill for the home team, although my banishment from the airwaves during pledge drives should give me more street cred on the subject than I have (I swear I was only joking when I said I’d shoot a puppy if you didn’t call now). And three, the danger is the discussion surrounding it will lead to the typical — and frankly, tiring — debate between the right and left — another political battle to be won by one side or the other. A lot of truths and facts get lost in those sorts of discussions.

But NPR and PBS picked up an ally today that may not help their cause that much.

US News’ Washington Whispers reports today that MoveOn has mobilized its considerable — and liberal — members against the zeroing out of the CPB’s funding.

It may well have become an ideological battle anyway, but the opportunity to go head-to-head with MoveOn is the stuff some politicians use to fill the campaign war chests.

Somewhat lost in that usual skirmish is a national dialogue about why the United States created public broadcasting in the first place, whether the U.S. still has an interest in how its people are informed, and whether it makes budgetary sense in 2011. Maybe the answer is yes, maybe the answer is no but it’s only going to be answered with calmer and quieter voices that usually get shouted down when the far left and far right do their thing.

Fred Rogers’ testimony before Congress decades ago about the need for two men to work out their differences could’ve been an apt metaphor in the debate.

I’ll leave the comments area open. Prove me wrong.

  • Stephanie

    As a resident of a western WI county and a suburban area of the Twin Cities Metro area, I am covered by media outlets based in the TC metro area. As a result, I am forced to seek out what is going on in Madison and the rest of my state. WI Public Radio is a vital source of my information. Without their web site, radio programing and support of debates during the elections, no matter who I vote for, I would not be able to make an informed decision or aware of what is going on in my state.

    Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying: An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will. Based on this I would hope that our country still does care how we inform and educate our citizens.

    The CPB provides a vital service to communities. My concern with the potential loss of funding what will happen to the smaller pubic TV and radio stations not positioned as well to sustain the loss of funding as TPT or MPR?

  • http://wcco.com/jasonblog Jason DeRusha

    Considering Democrats control the Senate and the President is a Democrat, I find it hard to believe that the URGENT tweet from @tpt and the constant PSA’s from the Current are really necessary.

    Should CPB be defunded? It’s an interesting question about whether or not we need public broadcasting in an era where so much similar programming is available. At least if you look from a national perch.

    If you look at it locally – you can make a better case that local public broadcasting operations are providing unique programming.

  • vjacobsen

    “It’s an interesting question about whether or not we need public broadcasting in an era where so much similar programming is available. At least if you look from a national perch.”

    As I type this, my little ones are watching PBS. I find it laughable to think that there’s anything that replicates both the quality and lack of commercialism in children’s programming. Sure, I’m an MPR listener, but they don’t care about that. The mother in me finds it hard to believe that anything commercial would still support “Sesame Street”, “Arthur”, or “Caillou”–or at least they’d probably change it. I for one appreciate knowing that they have non-obnoxious things to watch that can entertain AND inform their little minds. (and please, they do get something out of it. Hang out with them for an aftenoon and I’ll be happy to prove it).

    Yes, maybe it’s not going to happen (though my faith in Obama lately is a little iffy), but I still think it;s good to point out that THIS STUFF STILL MATTERS. I get through the week with the help of my podcasts of “This American Life”, “Planet Money”, “Marketplace”, “Wait, Wait”, and “Pop Culture Happy Hour”, and yes, Bob’s blog. MPR and NPR have helped make me a more informed member of the democracy, and that’s nothing to ignore. And, no, I don’t watch broadcast news precisely because of the hype (c’mon–you know you do it) and spin—and over-obsessing about sports (1/3 of the newscast? Really?).

    Please. If public companies always ran the world, Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson never would have had a chance to change the lives of kids for 40+ years.

  • Joanna

    Jason, do you really think so much similar programming is available? I don’t see it, myself.

  • GregS

    Like Bob, I don’t want to get in a food fight either but a few things need to be said.

    1) Federal funding is a very small part of CPB’s budget, little will change if it is eliminated. Yeah, there is a lot of rhetoric like, “if you don’t cough up with the cash, we shoot the bird or maybe the car guys.” But c’mon, let’s get real; those shows are cash cows.

    2) Public Broadcasting routinely takes strong partisan positions in political and cultural conflicts. It is time to “fes up” and do something about it.

    We keep getting the same line from the likes of Bill Kling, “People on the left think we are too far right”. Sorry, that just doesn’t cut it anymore. Even Stalin and Mao caught flak from the left. If Public Broadcasting wants continued PUBLIC support, it has to position itself in the center and give voice to all sides without editorial bias.

    In other words, if you want funding, show your work. Show how your staff and voice represents America. Show the polls. Show the studies. Do not show how you achieved diversity by recruiting Black Liberals, Woman liberals, Asian-Liberals and GLBT Liberals.

    3) Producing a quality product, which CPB does, does not in itself deserve public support. There are a wide range of media sources that provide the same quality of service. We fund CPB to produce PUBLIC programming and the word public refers to all of us, not just a tribal progressive community.

    4) Read this for a clue on how even academia is coming to its senses – NYTimes Social Scientist Sees Bias Within

    The takeaway reads like this “In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

    Does the above text in bold sound like anyone we know?

  • Bob Collins

    … and we’re off. Tray tables in the upright position, please.

  • GregS

    Good one, Bob.

    But seriously, if a Congressional delegation came to MPR headquarters and asked the following questions, how would you answer them?

    1) As a measure of how well you serve the public, explain how your audience represents the public at large?

    2) How well do your programs reflect public tastes?

    3) How do you know?

  • Tony

    What did ever happen to adults being able to have a discussion in a calm voice with mutual respect for each other?

    Fred Rogers was probably the last one, I know I don’t feel like talking in a calm voice anymore, and I have no respect for the conservative mindset.

  • Amy

    “I know I don’t feel like talking in a calm voice anymore, and I have no respect for the conservative mindset. ”

    But this is the problem in at nutshell, at least on most PBS and NPR stations.

    For the record, I grew up on PBS TV. I was a supporter in my earlier adult days. But as time as changed me, I have changed my opinions on many subjects.

    And when I look at particularly the news content coming from those “public” services, I cringe. Their viewpoint is undeniably from a particular understanding of the world. It is not “unbiased” and occasionally of very poor quality. In my mind, the content I see values the veneer of intellectualism rather than it’s spirit.

    So all I’m asking, as someone who does not agree with the viewpoints on these “public” resources, that I not be asked to pay for it. That’s it. That’s all. If they are truly public and have broad (or even niche) support, they will continue. And I hope they do – they have added much rich content to our debate. But, like Fox News (something else I do not support), they must stand *independently*. And I would think, in the end, that they would want that rather than being tossed around like a political football for a minor share of their funding.

  • Suzanne

    What I do not care for are the numerous reminders on MPR – at least The Current – about the vote in the House of U.S. Reps next week that could de-fund MPR to the tune of $4 million. If it doesn’t pass, that plea is going to look pretty ridiculous. Diversify the message, please.

  • Jim Shapiro

    SHOOT A PUPPY?!?

    I expect more from mpr. ( Remember your liver, Bob. )

  • Jim Shapiro

    GregS: Re 1) As a measure of how well you serve the public, explain how your audience represents the public at large?

    2) How well do your programs reflect public tastes?

    3) How do you know?

    Extremely good points.

    While the npr and pbs affiliates in San Diego are both third rate, they do more shows on the military, hispanics and homosexuals than you can shake a stick at – thereby serving a significant part of the local demographic.

    And one could safely bet that only one of those three groups provide contributing members in any significant numbers.

    But personally, as a proponent of an intellectually elite benevolent dictatorship, I say screw the non-paying public, and back off on excessive programming that might make me uncomfortable, paid or not. :-)

  • Jason Schwengels

    I am really disappointed by the advertising I hear on the Current about some unnamed bill that will “eliminate funding for public radio.”

    What is the bill number? What are the projected votes to eliminate federal funding? Why aren’t you giving us the truth? Where is the prominent link on this site to a neutral news source so we can come to our own conclusion on this issue?

    This campaign is the type the GOP would run and I abhor their/your half-truth tactics. You’re using propaganda to get more donations and I hope others realize this and abstain from donating until you are honest and transparent.

    I really like the Current, and I’ll continue to listen, but I won’t donate again until you rectify this wrong as loudly as you’ve advertised this unnamed bill and as long as I never hear anything of this sort again.

    I expect better from MPR.

  • jtb

    What I think as interesting is the Congress feels that it has a mandate to cut all funding to CPB because that is what the American people told them. By my calculations, that percentage of the ‘American people’ is really about 20% of the total population, with only 40% of the vote voting in the last election and that vote going about 50% to the republicans in the House. I do not think that is a representation of the ‘American people’ or a mandate.

    Secondly, where in god’s green earth are we ever going to find the Vulcan in this country? Every person in the world has a ‘bias’. Whether it being a bias attuned to yours or not that is the issue of oneself. What is important is to set standards to a profession that makes the reporting of the content important and ‘unbiased’. With blurring of opinion journalism and investigative journalism, everybody gets confused to the standards of how the news is to be reported. Ratings do not make the story right, the content, facts, and the multi dimensions make the story as well rounded. Every single story in the world to the minutest point has a bias to it…it is impossible not to have bias in anything. Can someone come up with one?

    Third, I read the comments that there are alternatives to CPB. Please list alternatives that contain the same kind of reporting that Public Radio or Television does.

    Finally, if CPB funding gets cut, I am not worried that my content of public media will not be cut severely being in the MN market that will step up to make sure of it. I am worried about the people in markets that live in areas that do not having the backing/resources that we do to keep their radio and/or television going. Some people, public radio is the only resource or signal they have for news. Is that the kind of country that can really thrive and innovate in this era of multi-media? Do we want to be like Iran in that aspect?

  • jtb

    What I think as interesting is the Congress feels that it has a mandate to cut all funding to CPB because that is what the American people told them. By my calculations, that percentage of the ‘American people’ is really about 20% of the total population, with only 40% of the vote voting in the last election and that vote going about 50% to the republicans in the House. I do not think that is a representation of the ‘American people’ or a mandate.

    Secondly, where in god’s green earth are we ever going to find the Vulcan in this country? Every person in the world has a ‘bias’. Whether it being a bias attuned to yours or not that is the issue of oneself. What is important is to set standards to a profession that makes the reporting of the content important and ‘unbiased’. With blurring of opinion journalism and investigative journalism, everybody gets confused to the standards of how the news is to be reported. Ratings do not make the story right, the content, facts, and the multi dimensions make the story as well rounded. Every single story in the world to the minutest point has a bias to it…it is impossible not to have bias in anything. Can someone come up with one?

    Third, I read the comments that there are alternatives to CPB. Please list alternatives that contain the same kind of reporting that Public Radio or Television does.

    Finally, if CPB funding gets cut, I am not worried that my content of public media will not be cut severely being in the MN market that will step up to make sure of it. I am worried about the people in markets that live in areas that do not having the backing/resources that we do to keep their radio and/or television going. Some people, public radio is the only resource or signal they have for news. Is that the kind of country that can really thrive and innovate in this era of multi-media? Do we want to be like Iran in that aspect?

  • Colin O’Donnell

    The bill in question is HR 68. In essence, it amends the Communications Act of 1934 (the law that allows for funding of CPB) to strike the federal government’s authority to allocate funds to public broadcasting after the 2013 budget. The bill comes up from someone in nearly every Congressional session, but this is one of the few times where it’s a lock to pass at least the House. The Senate is another possible place, given the amount of conservative Dems that are deficit hawks.

    The text of the bill, via the Library of Congress’s site, is at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c112:1:./temp/~c112BM9u2I::

  • LK

    Regarding whether MPR is excessive in communicating this action alert:

    Even though a bill might reasonably be expected to not pass in one body or be vetoed by the President, you still need to speak up if it’s going to affect you. For one, there could be new folks in all those areas in two years, and bills that gain traction today could be easier to justify politically as priorities tomorrow. But more importantly, you can never rely on someone else playing defense for you in politics.

  • Scott G.

    “But, like Fox News (something else I do not support)”

    If you watch any programs on Fox ( news or any of the other garbage they serve up) you are a supporter of Fox.

  • JMM

    If a Congressional delegation came to MPR headquarters and asked the following questions, how would you answer them? (here are my replies)

    1) As a measure of how well you serve the public, explain how your audience represents the public at large? I would think that the list of contributors to CPB is much better sample of the public at large, than a list of companies and businesses that advertise on the commercial airwaves.

    2) How well do your programs reflect public tastes? I think if you watch the Fred Rogers clip, the need to look beyond the “public taste” is one of the reasons we need to have public broadcasting. What sells best is not always what’s best for us, is it? I may love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert or Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck- but they are in fact entertainers, not credible sources of news. A second thought about MPR, in particular is the advent of the Current- I don’t like it much, but it seems to have a great deal of listeners.

    3) How do you know? Well that fact that millions contribute annually to keep public broadcasting viable is a start.

    One question not asked was what’s the bang for this buck? Every dollar that comes from the government is seed money- it simply gives CPB a start- we, the members of our local and state public broadcasting services are what allow them to nurture and grow. How many other government programs do that? Is that not a good measure of the worth of the CPB?

  • GregS

    “Every person in the world has a ‘bias’. Whether it being a bias attuned to yours or not that is the issue of oneself. – jtb”

    Sorry, but that argument runs counter to four decades of newsroom history. Public broadcasting in particular has bent over backwards to ensure minority communities were given a voice. To that end, CPB devoted a half-century of programming to civil rights, women’s issues, immigrant issues, activist issue and poverty issues.

    I am not saying that is bad, I am saying it is not good enough.

    What are you saying? Are you suggesting public broadcasting should stop covering these topics and go back to the comfortable bias of east coast white anglo-saxon males like we had in the 1960’s?

    If that is not acceptable, then let’s talk about this. Why is it now acceptable for public broadcasting to be centered in the comfortable biases of the coastal academic progressive community? Isn’t this just a warmed over version of the problem we had in the 1960’s with a liberal twist?

    This is what I want from public broadcasting:

    I want to hear a story about fundamentalist Christians and be able to say, “I see where they are coming from.”

    After hearing a story about illegal immigrants, I want to say the same thing.

    I want to hear about a controversial topic and be sympathetic to both sides.

    I want the refugees who fled to FOX to feel comfortable with NPR, not because it reflects their bias (they are too sophisticated for that) but because it does not hold them in contempt.

    I want to learn that Harry’s bar in Blooming Prairie Minnesota is up for sale because all his customers are drinking in Sid Anderson’s garage so they can smoke. I want to know how that affected the town’s social life.

    I want to know something of the culture of snowmobiling, truck-pulling, carp-fishing and bingo.

    I want to know why the CURRENT plays alternative music when more people in its market listen to country music?

    I want to know what values my neighbors hold and why? I want to understand and respect those values even though I don’t agree with them because I can now see them clearly.

    That is what I want for my tax money.

  • Bob Collins

    Jason (not Derusha):

    I couldn’t help but notice you ask several questions indicating a lack of information about the the CPB funding situation, and then alleged that MPR is somehow lying to you about them.

    I would submit to you that one of the things public radio (and, frankly, several other fine news organizations) tries to do is give you information upon which to make an informed stand of your choice.

    More and more, we don’t require information before determining reality. Is that a failure of the media or is it an indication that we don’t value information enough in the first place. If we don’t value information and understand the importance of informed people, I suspect no amount of money is going to change what we could get for free if we wanted to.

  • Bob Collins

    //I want to know why the CURRENT plays alternative music when more people in its market listen to country music?

    that was a good list right up until then. The answer should be obvious; the market has country music stations. It has even more stations still playing Fleetwood Mac.

    God help us if the standard of an institution the government set up to provide service where non-commercial radio (or TV) is that it provides the same programming those commercial stations do.

    There might be a need in the market for more Merle Haggard — ah, hell, of course there’s a need in the market for more Merle Haggard — but serving an unmet need shouldn’t be a weakness.

    You know, I was up in Moorhead the other day renewing acquaintances with flood families. I followed three of them in ’09. No other media did such a thing; no other media gave you real-time, personal stories to explain what was going on there. I never asked about their politics; in 10 days I never heard any politics spoken. That wasn’t the story or the benchmark for whether they were appropriate stories.

    I only knew that given my medium, I had the opportunity to tell a story and fill a need that was a little more deep, no pun intended — than some TV reporter standing in a foot of water telling you there was a flood.

    You may now begin the dissection of that coverage to prove it was a plot by liberals to indoctrinate you to a global warming theory. (g). You know we’re going to get there anyway in this thread; might as well get there now.

  • GregS

    “I would think that the list of contributors to CPB is much better sample of the public at large, than a list of companies and businesses that advertise on the commercial airwaves.- JMM”

    Huh? Advertisers are extremely attuned to the audience. Public taste is their business. Even though they usually don’t, they have every right to focus on a narrow demographic or cultural taste. On the other hand, a tax-funded entity is morally and legally bound to service the entire market.

    “I think if you watch the Fred Rogers clip, the need to look beyond the “public taste” is one of the reasons we need to have public broadcasting. – JMM”

    How can you say that? Roger’s program was a smashing commercial success that surfed a tsunami of public acceptance, same as Sesame Street. I fail to see why taxpayers must borrow money from the Chinese to fund programs that the networks and cable would fall all over themselves to pick up.

    On the other hand, how can you rationalize taxing people who do not share NPR’s manipulative political and cultural bias to support something that runs counter to their values and interests?

    Would you pay taxes to fund Glen Beck?

    “Well that fact that millions contribute annually to keep public broadcasting viable is a start. – JMM”

    How does the contributor base of CPB rationalize taxes? One would think it does just the opposite? Again, let’s use the metaphor of FOX, would that network’s popularity justify taxpayer support?

    I think you have things backward. We do not fund CPB because a lot of people like it’s quality programming. We fund it to serve ALL the people who pay taxes, not just the limited community that shares its worldview.

  • justin h

    @Jason: The bill is the continuing resolution to fund the federal government. Reports say it contains cuts to the CPB.

  • GregS

    “that was a good list right up until then. The answer should be obvious; the market has country music stations. It has even more stations still playing Fleetwood Mac. – Bob Collins”

    Uh Bob….. Believe it or not there is a thriving alternative country market, and from time to time The Current actually touches it. But that wasn’t my country music point. I took an accurate but tongue in cheek jab at the public broadcasting worldview…. I can just see the tone of the meetings that gave rise to The CURRENT. “Yeah, young, hip, urban, liberal, that’s the market!!”

    When you get into the neighborhoods, suburbs and outstate people do not listen to that stuff…but they do pay taxes.

    As for your work in Moorhead, it is what MPR does best. It is what you do best. Keep it up. We need more of it. I’d pay taxes for that.

    “You may now begin the dissection of that coverage to prove it was a plot by liberals to indoctrinate you to a global warming theory. (g). You know we’re going to get there anyway in this thread; might as well get there now. – Bob Collins”

    How can I resist such an opening? But I have to, the Mrs is standing behind me, tapping her foot. She has my day all laid out in a spreadsheet, right down to the granularity of the quarter hour…

    1) Clean the catbox.

    2) ….

  • Bob Collins

    //Would you pay taxes to fund Glen Beck?

    Everybody should be clear about how broadcasting works. It’s a regulated industry and the bulk of the FCC — paid for via taxes — is dedicated to the commercial broadcast spectrum, including regulating its content and the technology of a shared spectrum.

    When you were forced to buy new TVs or digital converters, it was because there was a market for the spectrum on which the analog signals were distributed.

    When you pay for your cable bill, you’re paying for Glen Beck even if you can’t stand and don’t watch Glen Beck because your cable operator pays for — and charges your for — access to FoxNews.

    Now, one can argue that you don’t HAVE to have cable, except that you do if you want to watch ESPN, for example.

    But we’re this far down the thread, and NO ONE has yet mentioned that they’ve ever read the Communications Act of 1934.

    Twenty-five percent of commercial stations were to be given over to educational facilities and barred from advertising. The amendment lost, though commercial stations were then required to air public affairs programming. That’s whyyou STILL have to get up at 3 a.m. on Sunday to hear public affairs programming on commercial stations.

    The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 modified this under the assumption — a debatable one, perhaps — that educational TV had a role in the classroom.

    The underpinning of all of this — commercial and public — regulation of CONTENT by the government is the assumption — somewhat archaic now, maybe — that the government had an interest in a well-informed citizenry. Period.

    The right v. left stuff that ends up dominating the debate skips over the most basic question of all: Should it still?

  • Bob Collins

    //When you get into the neighborhoods, suburbs and outstate people do not listen to that stuff.

    Outstate people CAN';T listen to “that stuff” because the signal, for the most part, doesn’t go outstate.

    The suburbs? Boy, you know, I’m well out of the demographic of the Current, but I’m pretty sure that (*&@@&*(^ thump thump thump I hear out here in the suburbs late at night when the cars go by, aren’t listening to Joe Hog and Piggies.(g) My apologies to fans of Joe if I’ve offended you.

  • Bob Collins

    // all laid out in a spreadsheet, right down to the granularity of the quarter hour…

    I’m with you, though old-fashioned guilt is involved. My weekends are like painting a bridge.

  • GregS

    Okay, I cleaned the catbox, so I can slip in a comment.

    Sure, you have to pay for Glen Beck and the NFL if you purchase cable, but if you fail to buy cable, no one sends a guy with cuffs and gun out to your house like they do when you fail to pay taxes. That little fact and all the legalities that go with it make a world of difference.

    The right v. left stuff that ends up dominating the debate skips over the most basic question of all: Should it still? – Bob Collins”

    Let’s face it, CPB funding is chump change for the federal government. If it were not for the bias problem, we would not be having this discussion. We might see some small cuts, but nothing substantial.

    This issue will not go away because CPB, like Mubarak, refuses to acknowledge the problem exists which only amplifies the perception that it is out-of-touch.

  • Bob Collins

    //That little fact and all the legalities that go with it make a world of difference.

    Only if you ignore everything I said earlier about the government regulation of the spectrum.

  • GregS

    Only if you ignore everything I said earlier about the government regulation of the spectrum. – Bob Collins”

    There is a massive difference between regulating bandwidth and funding content.

    There is also a massive difference between regulating content and funding content.

  • bsimon

    Jason DeRusha writes

    “Should CPB be defunded? It’s an interesting question about whether or not we need public broadcasting in an era where so much similar programming is available. At least if you look from a national perch.”

    I fail to see much overlap between public & for-profit broadcasting. On those days when I get home first & can turn on the TV news while I start dinner, I notice a huge quality disparity between the Newshour team & the network shows that precede it. Couric, et al, typically don’t spend the time it takes to delve into an issue to a depth that imparts any understanding; they’re doing little more than reading headlines, in my opinion.

    As far as radio goes, I haven’t recently explored the alternatives to public radio. The Current filled the void left when Rev 105 shut down; but since then I’ve aged enough that KNOW is about all I listen to anyway. On those occasions when I do drive outstate, I’m typically scanning channels, trying to find an NPR affiliate, only occasionally finding another news station.

    So, in my experience, anecdotal though it may be, there is not much ‘similar programming’ available. As far as the initial premise goes, the value of having an informed citizenry is pretty clear, particularly in a democracy. I’ve found that, locally, MPR is still the best resource for finding information on candidates for election. The strib & pioneer press are poor, offering little more than links to candidates’ web pages. TV news is pitiful in its political coverage. So, Mr DeRusha & the other critics of the CPB, to what alternatives are the current consumers of public broadcasting to turn? Can you point to alternatives that offer comparable quality of programming? If they exist, I haven’t encountered them.

  • GregS

    “Can you point to alternatives that offer comparable quality of programming? If they exist, I haven’t encountered them. – bsimon”

    Uh, live streaming……

    Uh, cable….

    While I agree that PBS, NPR and MPR do many things right, they do too many things to alienate half the audience. So I ask you, what good does it do to broadcast a narrow range of opinion over a broad geographic area.

    If most people are offended by the overt bias of “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” how can you rationalize taxing them to support it, especially when their alternatives are a click away?

    Sure, CPB covers a lot of stories in depth. Good for them but all too often you get a story on FOX weeks before NEWSHOUR or NPR reluctantly lifts its blackout – then all you hear is warmed over damage control from some leftist press release.

    That is only half the problem, pubic broadcasting routinely passes along liberal chanting points as news.

    Sorry Bob, but how often have we seen these things pop-up in NEWSCUTS? And how often are conservative talking points echoed here? Not bloody often, if ever.

    So again, if the majority is tuning CPB out – in disgust. What good is it?

  • Bob Collins

    “leftist talking points on NewsCuts”

    I was just trying to explain to someone the other day the proper usage of the phrase “begs the question.” this helps.

  • http://www.greenlightdesigns.us Jordan Green

    GregS:

    Talking points are not news, talking points are what a specific group of people are trying to make into news. For news to be truly balanced its best to ignore the talking points and write about actual news, and MPR does a good job of that. In depth coverage of actual news is very rare on cable news because they are too busy reading talking points, and then arguing about the talking points of the other side, leaving no time to actually go in depth into the issues. And we wonder why American politics is so polarized. MSNBC and FOX have destroyed news as we know it, making news sources like MPR News even more important today than ever before.

    Also, NewsCut is commentary, not news. Bob gets to express his view from time to time on here. If you hear bias from any hosts on air, I’d love to hear your examples. Playing devils advocate to both liberal and conservative interviewees doesn’t count, btw. Thats just good journalism, asking the tough questions.

  • GregS

    “”leftist talking points on NewsCuts – GregS”

    “begs the question. – Bob Collins”

    Last year, the left orchestrated a “Tea Party = racism” meme and public radio predictably played it for everything it was worth.

    I vividly remember NEWSCUT posting a video of an attendee at Tea Party rally with an offensive slogan. The clip read something to the effect that the Tea Party needs to do something about these things to control its message.

    [Talk about questions in need of begging?]

    The local blog-sphere buzzed for a week over this, with Mitch Berg from Shot-In-The-Dark blog and Bob weighing in. I need not rehash the debate.

    Now that the question is answered with a concrete instance, it need no longer be begged.

  • Bob Collins

    //Bob gets to express his view from time to time on here.

    Actually what News Cut tries to do is turn the mirror back on ourselves. Challenging us to consider why we think the things we do, why we assume the things we assume. That’s not saying what we think or what we assume is right or wrong. It’s the process of asking the questions that reveal the intellectual side of issues.

    Sometimes we get there. Sometimes we don’t.

  • John O.

    I certainly wasn’t around in 1934, my Dad was four years old and my mom wasn’t even born yet. There were two ways to get news: radio and newspapers. Newsgathering and reporting has changed dramatically since then. Just ask Sid!

    Is it worth considering the possibility that the time has come to end the debate by eliminating the public subsidy, if funding levels have shrunk to a small percent of the CPB budget?

  • Mindtron

    @gregs

    Is this the post you were referring to?

    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/news_cut/archive/2010/04/sarah_palin_held_a_rally.shtml

    if so I fail to see the supposed bias you mention. If not please direct the rest of us to it.

    Regarding the point of presenting the stories of multiple groups in our society, maybe you don’t listen to enough public radio then. I won’t argue that NPR or MPR are perfect in this regard, but I have heard a lot more thoughtful examinations of minority groups and those of lower SES than on network and cable news.

    Why is this so?

    Probably because the types of stories you mention aren’t sensational enough to bring in the big audiences that commercial broadcasters need.

  • Bob Collins

    //I vividly remember NEWSCUT posting a video of an attendee at Tea Party rally with an offensive slogan. The clip read something to the effect that the Tea Party needs to do something about these things to control its message.

    Vividly? No. The video you refer to actually was 2:30 of Jason Lewis’ speech. It had nothing to do with the sign that was being held, nor did the sign appear in the video. What I provided was exactly the kind of perspective you say I don’t provide.

    Also in the post was a picture that appeared in the Star Tribune of the offensive sign and what I wrote was:

    To be clear: Most of the signs were merely political in nature. But, at some point, doesn’t someone have to say, “Hey, buddy, ditch the sign; you’re killing our cause, here”?

    And I also linked to Washington Post story on Tea Party and racism and ‘blockquoted” the Tea Party spokesman quote about throwing the bums out of a rally.

    In effect, he answered the question I raised, by pointing out that “at the heart of the effort to counter racism accusations is dissociating from protesters who cross the line.” That was Judson Phillips, head of the Tea Party Nation.

    If you go back and look at the thread, what you’ll see is a fairly typical approach to issues these days. They “rewrite” what I wrote, create their own reality, and then repudiate that reality. It’s utter nonsense, really.

    And Mitch Berg wrote about that? Say, is that the same Mitch Berg whose perspective I occassionally quote on 5×8 and send people to his site?

    Yeah, I thought so.

  • sue

    I’m a sustaining member of MPR – I listen so I pay. BUT – if it’s a choice between the Feds funding public broadcasting and funding heating assistance for the poor, I come down on the side of the poor.

    If we like public broadcasting, most of us can pay for it. If we can’t afford heat, there just aren’t many other options.

  • bsimon

    GregS writes

    “”Can you point to alternatives that offer comparable quality of programming? If they exist, I haven’t encountered them. – bsimon”

    Uh, live streaming……

    Uh, cable….”

    The subject is broadcast media, which excludes both live streaming and cable. Cable, specifically, is a paid service; one which I choose not to buy largely because its unnecessary and the concept of buying television that still has commercials makes no sense to me.

    As far as streaming goes – streaming from whom? If I’m, say, in my kitchen and want to pickup a stream from someone, odds are high that I’d choose MPR/NPR or PBS. I’m unaware of alternatives that offer superior coverage; if you’re aware of some, please enlighten me. I really would like to know.

  • Jason DeRusha

    To be clear, bsimon, I’m no critic of public broadcasting. I said it’s an interesting question and conversation.

    Most of the supporters are arguing a quality case: my kids watch and love all the TPT kids programs. But when public broadcasting started, there was no Disney channel (commercial-free in the AM, and Public TV sells a lot of Sesame St merchandise too). There’s Nick and Sprout. There’s similar programming.

    You can argue that public TV is better, but today there’s a History Channel, there’s Discovery, there’s a lot of similar programming.

    I agree that the numbers here are so small, it’s a waste of time to discuss this on a national scale, but it is interesting from a theoretical side. Do we still need this? Or- with more choice, do we need a public choice more than ever?

    Again, it’s harder to make a case for defunding when you look at the quality of local work, other than the question of whether public tax money should be uses for competitors to private business. But the gov’t picks and chooses

    Various private companies to subsidize all the time – to the detriment of private competitors, so this is not a huge issue for me anyway.

  • Bob Collins

    All fine points by Jason, as usual. To this point:

    But the gov’t picks and chooses Various private companies to subsidize all the time – to the detriment of private competitors, so this is not a huge issue for me anyway.

    We do hear a lot of kvetching these days from commercial broadcasters that somehow public broadcasting has some sort of advantage.

    As a son of commercial broadcasting, I will only note that public broadcasting was NOTHING back in the day when commercial broadcasters were first given the green light to start dismantling their news operations .

    Public broadcasting became more popular AFTER commercial broadcasters started getting out of the in-depth news business, not before.

    Which brings us back around to one of the original questions which nobody wants to talk about. Does the government have an interest in a more informed citizenry?

    Is it even possible to have a widely informed citizenry?

  • bsimon

    Jason DeRusha writes

    “it’s harder to make a case for defunding when you look at the quality of local work, other than the question of whether public tax money should be uses for competitors to private business. ”

    This argument is bunk. Private business isn’t competing with the niches that CPB fills. I suppose by conceding the local argument you’re killing my rebuttal, but I have a hard time seeing any stations pickup up Almanac, for instance. Are any of the radio stations going to pick up the extensive interviews MPR gives gubernatorial candidates (senatorial too, I think; and many of the races for US House as well)? I think not. Part of the role of government is to step in where the free market fails. In terms of offering good political coverage, for-profit media companies are atrocious.

  • GregS

    “To be clear: Most of the signs were merely political in nature. But, at some point, doesn’t someone have to say, “Hey, buddy, ditch the sign; you’re killing our cause, here”? – Bob Collins

    Yes, that is the line that stuck in my mind.

  • GregS

    “Does the government have an interest in a more informed citizenry? – Bob Collins”

    Sure, but what does that imply? That Vivian Schiller is free to frame the worldview of the nation?

  • GregS

    No, Mindtron, I was referring to the piece Bob mentioned but thanks for pointing out yet another MPR/Tea Party hit piece.

    From the article: “Today’s crowd was — as it was at the Palin rally in Minneapolis — exclusively white. That doesn’t make the tea party racist — an accusation that precludes a scholarly discussion — but it does indicate that the tea party doesn’t resonate with non-whites (and/or that it’s not as popular in Boston as the Red Sox).”

    When is the last time MPR or NPR went to an environmental rally and focused on the racial composition of the crowd rather than the message?

    Clue: the racial demographics of the environmental movement perfectly matches the Tea Party.

    That doesn’t mean that environmentalists are racist (or that they stopped beating their wives) – but it does indicate that the environmental cause doesn’t resonate with non-whites.

    See what I am talking about?

    The rational for bringing women, blacks, asians, gays and other under-served groups into the newsroom was to provide a minority voice – as well as a reality check.

    Someone on staff needs to point out things like, “Why does the coverage of the Tea Party movement differ from the tone we use with the environmental movement? Is this really a good idea for a tax supported entity?”

  • Bob Collins

    //Bob Collins” Yes, that is the line that stuck in my mind.

    but you didn’t say it was ‘a line’ that stuck in your head. You said it was a video that stuck in your head. you said vividly so. What perspective was the video actually presenting, Greg, contrary to your vivid recollection?

  • GregS

    You got me, it was a photo not a video, a distinction without a difference. I vividly recalled the sub-text and it turns out I nailed that.

    C’mon, any fool can spot the classic “When did you stop beating your wife?” question.

    Echo the smear, echo the denial, it is all the same thing.

    Let’s put it in plain terms. It is unethical to smear an entire group with behavior of a few members. It is equally unethical to repeat the smear.

    It would be outrageous for a reporter to hang out at a civil rights rally, waiting for someone to say or do something stupid, then press the leadership to disassociate the group from that person’s offensive actions.

    If a reporter were stupid enough to do that, they would never work in the industry again because civil rights is a sacred value in the industry and nothing is allowed to denigrate its message.

    The same with environmentalism.

    Why then can this be done at a Tea-Party rally?