NRO: Let's Not Trot Out the Tired 'Out to Fry Big Bird' Line Again

Over at The Corner, National Review's Jay Nordlinger offered "Belated Fulminations" about the ongoing mess in public broadcasting. Conservatives don't believe in it? Naturally, that's one reason it's liberal: principled conservatives aren't exactly rushing in their resumes. On to Jay:

1) I have long said, Why should a liberal republic such as ours have government radio or government television? Really.

2) I very much favor Radio Martí, VOA, RFE, that thing we have in Iran — American broadcasts to people who otherwise would have nothing but lying state media.

3) In previous periods, when conservatives tried to do something about NPR and PBS, the other side trotted out Big Bird. They literally trotted him out: had some guy in a Big Bird costume, saying, “The Republicans are trying to kill me,” or something. And the point was: We didn’t give a rip about Sesame Street. That show was popular enough to survive on CBS or some other commercial network. We cared about Frontline, NOVA (it was all caps, right?) — things like that. Shows that consistently took a Sandinista point of view.

4) The Left often says that the amount of public funding for these things is trivial — 2 percent or whatever. Fine. So can’t they easily do without it? Why not just get rid of the trivial amount of public funding, so that people like me will shut up? Why not make Nina Totenberg an honest woman? Let her be another lefty in the general market, instead of some kind of official commentator. Our tax dollars don’t go to Michael Moore. Why to her?

5) Some on the left have said, “You conservatives are whining about the firing of Juan Williams. Don’t you guys think that employers ought to be able to hire and fire as they please?” I suppose. But NPR didn’t say, “We’re firing Juan Williams because we think he’s a louse. We think he’s no good. And it’s our right.” No, they fired him on some sort of bogus ethics charge — he had “crossed a line,” etc., etc. He was too impure for spotless NPR. What baloney.

That’s the beauty of being free of public funding: Become Pacifica Radio or something, and do whatever the heck you want. If you want certain views, but not other views, fine. We here on the right aren’t in favor of the “Fairness” Doctrine or other such restrictions. But — to say it for the millionth time — do it on your own dime.

6) “What about Firing Line?!?!” comes the cry. Oh, I think WFB answered that amply (and repeatedly). (One of the arguments: “If we’re to have public television, shouldn’t there be at least one conservative voice, instead of none?” Also: “The billionaire accepts Social Security. And that may appear weird. But you wrote the rules . . .”)

7) Curious — isn’t it? — that conservatives are the main ones defending Juan Williams, a liberal, as far as I know.

8) It was all right for Daniel Schorr to be an NPR guy? Really? Daniel Schorr? He and Totenberg qualify for NPR, but Juan Williams is de trop? Such strange times, chillen. When politically possible, defund the thing, and be done with it. I think everyone will be happier: including liberals. 

As for number six, there is no Buckley-style conservative program on PBS these days. Liberals fulminated against the Wall Street Journal Editorial Report (much like the staid Washington Week, but on the right) and the amusingly titled Tucker Carlson Unfiltered until they were removed back in 2005. (That's a title like David Brooks -- Raw!) PBS people treated conservative shows like you dropped a scorpion in their lap. "Get it off me! Get it off me!"

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis