The Juan Williams ballyhoo should be given a proper happy ending, or so says one Slate Magazine writer. Slate.com’s resident power-Libertarian Jack Shafer takes on National Public Radio in his Press Box column this week. Shafer minces no words as he details his plan for the network. On the issue of government funding, NPR claims to get no more than 2% of its budget from the feds. Shafer illustrates how misleading that number might be, citing a more realistic number in the high 20-percents:
Having come this far, NPR should go all the way and remove its fingers from the public pocket. Only by making itself independent of government funding will it become independent of government meddling. First step: Cut that 2 percent in federal money from the NPR budget. Second step: Put the member stations on notice that the $90 million that CPB ships them each year will be zeroed out in five years, and tell them to adjust their budgets accordingly.
Shafer goes on to call for real commercials, suggesting that the station operates much like its private-owned competition already, having already even subtly changed its moniker from “National Public Radio” to, officially, “NPR” just last year.
It’s fine with me if the network and its stations continue their usual whoring for money—endless pledge drives, taking contributions from George Soros, soliciting sponsorships and foundation support, and all the rest.
My plan won’t necessarily re-create NPR and its stations as they are today. But I can promise this: They’ll be better, because they’ll finally be independent.
Let’s hope they listen.