Yesterday, we wrote about how the Republican-dominated House of Representatives voted to eliminate federal funding for National Public Radio. This morning, we called McMorris Rodgers' office, and got Communications Director Todd Weiner. He explains that the congresswoman's support for eliminating NPR's federal funding isn't from concerns about bias — it's about basic budget cuts. She "really has no reservations against it," he says.
"This isn't about punishing 'political opponents.' It's about doing what the taxpayers want us to do," Weiner says. "We're borrowing $5 billion a day, and we'll run a record $1.6 trillion deficit. It requires tough choices. And the congresswoman felt that since families and small businesses are making those tough choices, the government should do the same. She felt this would be an appropriate place for savings."
Where other congressional representatives have concentrated on the secretly recorded video of former NPR fundraiser executive Ron Schiller insulting the Tea Party, Weiner focuses on another Schiller comment.
"Well, frankly, it is very clear that we would be better off in the long run without federal funding," Schiller was recorded as saying, "NPR would definitely survive and most of the stations would survive."
Weiner argues that some people at NPR would welcome the increased programming freedom that the lack of federal funding would provide. With only about 10 percent of NPR affiliates' funding coming from the federal government, Weiner says, there's good reason to believe NPR will be just fine. In fact, Weiner suspects that, because of all the controversy, NPR may actually come out ahead.
"It's been in public consciousness," Weiner says. "Donations will increase."