Doug Lamborn's Effort to De-Fund Public Radio and TV Resurfaces

January 7 2011, 11:00 AM

National Public Radio confesses that it mishandled the firing of pundit Juan Williams last year after he said on Fox News that he feared boarding the same airplanes as Muslims. While Williams was subsequently hired by Fox News at a hefty salary, Ellen Weiss, the senior vice president for news at NPR, hasn't fared so well. Yesterday, she stepped down after 28 years with the network following NPR's finding that Williams' firing wasn't handled properly and that the network should rework its ethics guidelines to make them more amenable to today's nonstop news cycle (via the Los Angeles Times). 

The shakeup comes as Congressman Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, reintroduces two bills (H.R. 68 and 69) meant to end federal funding for NPR and its parent company, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, reports the Daily Caller. Lamborn claims the proposal is not political, but rather about reining in the nation's $14 trillion debt: "We simply cannot afford to subsidize NPR, or any other organization that is not doing an essential government service. The government must learn to live within its means" (via the Denver Daily News).

More than one dozen public radio and television stations in Colorado could lose about $5 million in funding for programming that would be hard to find elsewhere if Lamborn's measure were to actually make its way through Congress and be signed by the president. Wick Rowland, president and chief executive of Colorado Public Television, balks at the idea that public broadcasting is not needed: "The evidence is very clear that public broadcasting is more necessary than ever, that the kind of programming that we offer is not adequately provided in the commercial media, and that the original reasons for creating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, NPR, and so on, still exists, and perhaps even more poignantly now."