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New Fuel for NPR Debate: Should Govt. Pull Funding for All Public Broadcasting?

Fin - Daily Ticker - US

National Public Radio's federal funding was already at risk before the undercover video released this week showed executive Ron Schiller talking badly about the Tea Party.

With a $1.5 trillion budget deficit this year, many Republicans in Congress just feel the country cannot continue to fund public broadcasting. Senator Jim DeMint is one Republican leading the fight to pull its funding.

"The issue about taxpayers funding public broadcasting isn't about who gets hired or fired," said DeMint after both Ron Schiller and NPR's chief executive resigned, the Miami Herald reports. "It's about two simple facts: We can't afford it, and they don't need it."

This year public television and radio will receive $430 million of your taxpayer dollars unless Republicans get their way. NPR's portion is a roughly $2.4 million and accounts for only a tiny portion of its annual budget.

Aside from the fiscal issue, there's another matter clouding the debate. "There's a lot of folks on the right who are very very displeased with the way NPR is operated," says David Levinthal, director of communications for the Center for Responsive Politics. "They don't believe that government subsidies or government money should be sent to NPR in any form or fashion" because it has a left-leaning bias and "is not representative of the population as a whole."

Those on the left say cuts to public television and radio would jeopardize integral children's programming like "Sesame Street" and other programming that all Americans enjoy, Levinthal explains.

Adding even more fuel to this firestorm, yesterday the Center for Responsive Politics published this on its blog OpenSecrets.org:

"Joyce Slocum, National Public Radio's new interim chief executive, has made five federal-level political contributions of more than $500, all to Democrats, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of campaign disclosures shows.

The Center's research indicates that between 1999 and 2002, Slocum spread about $3,500 between Democratic U.S. House candidate Regina Montoya Coggins and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ron Kirk, who today serves as President Barack Obama's chief trade representative.

Slocum does not appear to have made political contributions while an employee of NPR, which her official biography says she joined in 2008."

For now, the debate continues. Tell us what you think.

Should the federal government pull its funding for all public radio?