Nov 20 2005

Letters to the Editor

Forget NPR, Save Public Radio

I agree that NPR needs to get funding from other sources than the CPB.

Today I listened to programs on my NPR station in Philly, WHYY-FM. The first show, Day to Day, in a discussion about the Harriet Miers nomination, had a guest from the National Review. I kept waiting for a progressive or liberal guest–it never happened.

The next show, Talk of the Nation, presented a guest representing a conservative women’s org. Again, this was not balanced by anyone on the left. One commentator kept saying how W is missing a real opportunity to nominate a real true-blue conservative (as if someone who has worked closely with Bush for five years and has worked with Karl Rove in Texas politics might just turn out to be a liberal!).

And on All Things Considered, there were two professors, one connected to the New Republic, which I consider centrist or slightly right, and a guy who actually said that Bush is simply looking for a true judge without an agenda, not liberal and not conservative! I have to conclude that from this remark alone, this guy is clearly on the right.

My faith in the independence of public radio is rapidly dwindling. Let’s give up on NPR and try to save public broadcasting!

Dave Posmontier

Melrose Park, Penn.

CPB’s Contribution

Your piece (“Time to Unplug the CPB”, 9=10/05) stated: “The CPB provides approximately $400 million a year to NPR and PBS—about 15 percent of the two entities’ combined budget.”

In FY 2004, according to their published annual reports, CPB provided only about $2 million directly to NPR and about $38 million directly to PBS–i.e., only about 6 percent of PBS’s and NPR’s combined revenues of $642 million. Most of CPB’s funding is actually distributed directly to public television and radio stations, which are legally and financially independent of PBS and NPR (and of CPB, for that matter). Most of those stations are members of PBS or NPR, but a considerable number are not.

If you add up the budgets of all the public broadcasting stations, CPB funds represent about 15 percent of their total funding, not that of PBS and NPR combined. You may consider this distinction to be hair-splitting, but the independent governing boards and managers of the more than 1,150 public broadcasting stations nationwide generally do not.

Also, in the next-to-last paragraph of the sidebar “The Worst Sort of Political Hacks,” you (or perhaps your source, Dan Coughlin) erred by identifying Robert Coonrod as “Clinton-appointed CPB chair.”

Coonrod was actually president and CEO of CPB, not the chairman of its board of directors. The president and CEO of CPB is appointed by its board of directors, not by the president of the United States.

Ted Coltman

Washington, D.C.

The writer is an archivist for CPB. The views expressed are his own.

Telling Point

Your excellent article on Judith Miller missed perhaps the most telling point. In the August 15, 2005 New York Times public editor column, it was stated that “the Times‘ policy does not permit the granting of anonymity to confidential news sources ‘as a cover for a personal or partisan attack’.” If one thing seems to be clear in this case, it is that someone in the administration leaked the Wilson story “for a personal or partisan attack.” So the Times‘ own policy does not permit Judith Miller to grant anonymity to her source in this case.

Ever since the case arose, I had an intuitive belief that there was a distinction between a whistleblower or a person responding to questions from an investigative reporter, on the one hand, and someone leaking information to the press for his or her own benefit or for the benefit of his or her political or corporate organization on the other. It turns out that the Times had already understood the distinction and articulated it well.

Sheldon L. Baskin

Chicago, Ill.

Jesus Would Look at GDP

Ben Somberg (9=10/05) rightly points out Juan Williams’ nonsensical idea that comparisons of U.S. foreign aid as a percentage of GDP are “misplaced.” I recall Bill O’Reilly making the same rationalization that such comparisons–which paint the U.S. in a much stingier light–are unfair because they are “skewed out” over the entire economy.

I’d like to remind O’Reilly and President Bush, both devout Christians, of a parable from the New Testament. Jesus (whom Bush identified as the most influential philosopher in his life) was watching people pay their tithes to the treasury, the rich casting in much. But Jesus pointed to a woman who contributed a small amount: “This poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

Tom Gorman

Glendale, Calif.


In the September/October 2005 “SoundBites,” two quotes from Pat Robertson were misdated; the first one was from August 22, 2005, while the second was from August 24, 2005. The Media Matters post cited in the same item was from August 24, 2005.