“I will never say in private, what I wouldn’t say in public.” – John Madden

For the past 10,220 days (give or take about three months or so), the sun has risen every morning in the Golden State and likewise the moon has been seen in the heavens in the evening. The birds have chirped. The bees have buzzed. The waves continued to crash on the beaches. Life has gone on…without assistance from the State of California for public broadcasting.

My former boss for eight years California Governor George Deukmejian used his veto pen more than 2,300 times in his two terms. One of those times was the total “zeroing out” of California Public Broadcasting in 1983. The state was broke, about $1.5 billion in the red. On top of that, the governor did not philosophically believe that the government should be in the business of subsidizing media…because subsidies come with strings attached. Sorry, there are no free lunches in life.

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A news conference was held in Sacramento to announce $1 billion in vetoes in his very first fiscal blueprint that actually balanced that budget. Included in that amount was all of the funding for California Public Broadcasting. The radio reporter for the California Public Broadcasting covering the event opened the budget book, saw the veto, rose from his desk, and stormed out of the Room 1190 (news conference room in the State Capitol in Sacramento). We had a first-rate public relations fire storm on our hands…but it didn’t last long.

Periodically reporters would bring up this issue with us, most not agreeing in the slightest. We would remind them that California was out of money and how the governor believed in a church and state-style separation when it comes to the media and government.

Which brings us to the very emotional subject of NPR, which has Charlie Sheen-style public relations problems that only intensified this week. Liberals love NPR because NPR is liberal. Conservatives detest NPR because NPR is liberal…err…progressive (whatever). But should NPR, which is taking $400 million or 12 percent of its funding from the federal government, be so unbalanced?

Liberals will instantly scream, “Well what about Fox News?” Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and receives no federal funding. Want to yell about Rush Limbaugh? The answer is essentially the same.

The biggest public relations blunder made by NPR was to be seen as so far out of the mainstream. They were safe as long as the economy was decent and Democrats were calling the shots in DC, but as we all know things change in politics and they can change quickly. The economy cratered, the federal government is horrifically in the red, and there is a whole posse of red state, Tea Party Republicans, now running the House of Representatives. Americans through their actions time-and-time again have proven that they prefer divided government.

The first blow came last October with the clumsy firing of NPR correspondent Juan Williams (who appears regularly on *gasp* Fox News) saying out loud what many Americans think in the aftermath of 9/11; many are very aware that Muslims are among the passengers on plane flights they are taking.

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And just this week, NPR’s chief fundraiser Ron Schiller was secretly videotaped during a meeting with the Muslim Education Action Center. As Russell Adams of the Wall Street Journal pointed out nobody at NPR, including Schiller, vetted the Muslim Education Action Center. The group does not exist, but served as a front for the secret videotaping.

The result was that Schiller was silent as the two potential $5 million Muslim contributors complained about how other media outlets were controlled by “Zionists” while NPR was not (Does silence constitute agreement?). NPR’s chief fundraiser proceeded to declare that NPR does not need the $400 million in federal support, completely undermining NPR’s lobbying effort. He then completely trashed the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement, labeling them as white, gun-toting “racists”…Did Mr. Schiller not appreciate who is running the House of Representatives and holding the purse strings for NPR?

Specifically, the Washington Post reported that Schiller said in the video about the Tea Party movement:  “They believe in sort of white, middle America, gun-toting – it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.” He also said NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding,” a statement most Republicans agree with.

John Madden, who was a football commentator on four major networks for 29 years, said once: “I will never say in private, what I wouldn’t say in public.” That is the best defense possible in the case of an ambush video tape job. And you know this ambush video technique, whether we like it or not, is going to be used again-and-again with technology making possible smaller cameras and more sensitive microphones. Politics is a contact sport indeed.

The net result was that NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller “resigned” Wednesday and the NPR Board accepted her resignation with “regret.” Read: She was pushed out of the job. (She is not related to Ron).

Now the big question is whether the GOP majority in the house will push NPR’s $400 million appropriation out of the budget. If it does, NPR will survive someway, somehow on donations and corporate contributions. Alas, there will be no $5 million donation from the Muslim Education Action Center. And just like California, the sun will rise in the morning across the fruited plain.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/10/AR2011031002032.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/09/AR2011030901802.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704132204576190344232339766.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/03/09/push-to-defund-public-broadcasting-heats-up/

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/February-federal-budget-apf-1010393433.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=main&asset=&ccode=

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/10/21/juan-williams-npr-fired-truth-muslim-garb-airplane-oreilly-ellen-weiss-bush/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Sheen

http://www.meactrust.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Madden_(American_football)

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