DeMint eyes defunding of NPR, PBS

DEMINT EYES DEFUNDING OF NPR, PBS…. I suppose this was the inevitable result of the Juan Williams firing. When Fox News personalities are under fire, congressional Republicans are generally willing to intervene.

Conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina today announced plans to introduce legislation stripping federal funding from National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service. […]

The firing prompted calls from Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and others on the right to strip NPR of funding, and now DeMint, who is beloved in the Tea Party movement despite his Senate perch, has taken up the call.

“Once again we find the only free speech liberals support is the speech with which they agree. The incident with Mr. Williams shows that NPR is not concerned about providing the listening public with an honest debate of today’s issues, but rather with promoting a one-sided liberal agenda,” he said in a statement.

Of course, anyone who’s listened to NPR knows how very wrong that is, but this little stunt isn’t about accuracy; it’s about the right’s anti-media campaign.

DeMint’s statement added, “Since 2001, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds programming for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service, has received nearly $4 billion in taxpayer money.”

I don’t know if that’s true — DeMint is not above making things up — but let’s say for the sake of conversation that the figure is accurate, and that the CPB has received nearly $4 billion since 2001. My next question is, why is DeMint just starting to care now?

DeMint was elected to Congress in 1998, and has been in the Senate since 2004. As far as I can tell, he’s never tried to strip the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of its public financing before. NPR fires one pretty awful political commentator for, among other things, having a problem with one of the world’s largest religions, and now DeMint is ready act?

House Republicans — who had a majority and a Republican president for six years not too long ago, but took no interest in this — are making similar noises, despite not having lifted a finger on this for years.

I have no idea how or whether this will resonate with the public, though I seem to recall Newt Gingrich getting vilified in the mid-’90s for trying to “kill Big Bird” when a similar effort came up.

But it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether Republicans are tripping over their own closing statement here. Instead of talking about any of the issues that have worked pretty well for them, leading GOP officials want to talk about … the Corporation for Public Broadcasting?

Dave Weigel asked, “Doesn’t this remind that voter whom the Democrats are trying to spook with Christine O’Donnell attacks that the GOP he’s voting for is going to wage culture war as much as it’s going to try and bring back jobs?”