Conservatives have made National Public Radio (NPR) the target of their next defunding campaign after conservative prankster James O’Keefe released heavily edited videos that showed NPR executives using impolitic language to describe radical conservatives and tea partiers. GOP Sens. Jim DeMint (SC) and Tom Coburn (OK) have already introduced legislation to cut off federal funding to NPR and other public broadcasting.
Yet an unlikely voice has risen in defense of the station’s federal funding. During an interview with Atlanta Public Broadcasting on Friday, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) — who has a 96 percent rating from the American Conservative Union — said that it would be unwise to defund the station because it provides a very valuable service. The senator explained that he actually knows a lot of conservatives who listen to NPR and that while it may have to have some of its funding cut as part of wider deficit reduction efforts, completely cutting off funding is the wrong move:
O’HAYER: Since we’re talking about funding and we’re on an NPR affiliate, I can’t let you go without asking you what you think about the idea of defunding NPR.
CHAMBLISS: If you look at NPR versus particularly the overall public broadcasting issue, NPR doesn’t generate income like the public broadcasting side does. You know, an awful lot of conservatives listen to NPR. It provides a very valuable service. Should we maybe think about a reduction in that? Again, I think the sacrifice is going to have to be shared by NPR as well as others. But I think total elimination of funding is probably not the wisest thing to do.
Listen to it:
Chambliss’s defense of NPR makes him an outlier in his political party. His Georgian congressional delegation colleague Rep. Tom Graves (R) has actually been raising money from the topic of defending the station. He writes in a fundraising letter, “I never listen to NPR. As I travel across Georgia, I tune in to hear Glenn Beck or Rush, Hannity or catch the news or just relax to good ole country music. NPR is too snooty for my taste.”
Mattparker1 writes, “It’s fine for Mr. Chambliss to say this, but where is the action? Stand up for public broadcasting on the Senate floor, sir. Tell your radical GOP colleagues that they are wrong…”