Vivian Schiller

Vivian Schiller

Associated Press, (AP)

Editorial: NPR wounds itself, again

  • March 10, 2011 - 9:07 AM

Star Tribune Editorial

This editorial board is not part of the conservative chorus calling for an end to government funding for public broadcasting.

But the latest self-inflicted pratfall by top officials at National Public Radio makes responding to that chorus harder.

The network's CEO and president, Vivian Schiller, resigned Wednesday in the wake of another top executive's secretly videotaped, numbskull remarks lamenting that the Republican Party has been "hijacked" by the Tea Party movement, which he called "racist," "gun-toting," "xenophobic," "Islamophobic" and, for good measure, "scary."

Adding incoherence to idiocy, he said in an apologetic resignation statement that the comments were "not reflective of my own beliefs."

Coming atop last year's clumsy firing of Juan Williams over that commentator's ill-considered remarks about being made nervous by fellow air travelers in "Muslim garb," this latest embarrassment raises questions about the sophistication of NPR leaders.

The exec who stepped in it this time had one thing right when he suggested on hidden camera that NPR might ultimately be better off without federal funding.

 Indeed, people this politically inept had better not count on staying in the good graces of Congress.

That said, public broadcasting delivers a wealth of news, cultural and children's programming of depth and texture.

We question taxpayer dollars flowing directly or indirectly to services that are anything but distinctive -- like a rock-music station -- and in an era when deep and painful spending cuts have to be faced, government funding for public broadcasting may ultimately fall into the nice-but-not-necessary category.

One thing's clear: It won't take much more foolishness at the top to ensure that regrettable result.

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