In Defense of Public Broadcasting

I’m tired of hearing reactionary attacks on public broadcasting. Here’s a quote from the overrated extreme conservative and not-a-chance-in-hell presidential candidate Mike Huckabee urging Republicans to cut a deal on the budget in The New York Times today:

Nobody’s more pro-life than me. Nobody. But as much as I want to see Planned Parenthood defunded, as much as I want to see NPR lose their funding, the reality is the president and the Senate are never going to go along with that. So win the deal you can win and live to fight another day.

It’s not clear to me what NPR funding has to do with the current impasse at all, but okay buddy, take your shot.

I’m even more frustrated that those attacks seems to go unanswered. Fans of public broadcasting should consider themselves to be on notice. Conservatives are gunning for NPR, just like they were gunning for ACORN. It took years, but conservatives were persistent in their attacks of an organization devoted to defending poor and working class people. Liberals remained on the defensive, and eventually conservatives won. The hidden camera tricks that have recently embarrassed some NPR executives are reminiscent of the tactics used to attack ACORN. Conservatives are like the Terminator. They’re single-minded in their purpose, and they will not stop until they’ve achieved their mission.

Why defend public broadcasting? Because it offers the kind of serious, calm, and intelligent programming that private TV and radio so utterly fail to deliver.

Here’s a sampling of public broadcasting from just the past few weeks.

I challenge anyone to find privately funded programming that can compare to any one of these shows, much less a network that airs all of it.

And all this programming is available for free online. This at a time when content owners are stifling innovation by suing cable operators over allowing paying customers to access the service they’re paying for on their iPad.

Public broadcasting informs the public, helps to civilize a political culture that badly needs it, and elevates the discourse. It is worth defending, and vigorously.