Congressional Democrats have to make some tough choices about which programs to defend against the Republican drive to slash government spending, especially when it comes to a "fat GOP target" like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, according to op-ed page editors of the Boston Globe. CPB's $531 million appropriation is a comparatively small item in the federal budget, but it offers a big political pay-off for Republicans.
As the Globe sees it, public radio doesn't need federal assistance: NPR receives only a sliver of this federal aid through direct grants, and the financial squeeze of lost CPB grants on public radio stations could be eased through dues relief. Democrats should fight to protect other cultural programs targeted by the GOP -- the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and the arts and documentary programs on PBS.
"For a news service, there's a major upside to being free from government support," the Globe's op-ed writers reason. "The best guarantee of a fearless media is its own income stream." NPR and its member stations are "among the jewels of the American media," and fans and listeners "should, and surely will, step up to make certain it survives...."
The editorial, published this morning, doesn't acknowledge the roles that Boston pubcasters WBUR and WGBH play in competing for local news audiences, or the extent to which WGBH's television production house depends on federal funding and PBS support.