A little more to the left

Political contributions underscore long-held leanings of NPR



Republicans will take control of only one chamber of Congress in January, so it's unlikely they'll be able to make a dent in taxpayer funding of National Public Radio.

A lot of folks are questioning taxpayer support for the public network after it unceremoniously dumped commentator Juan Williams for expressing genuine fear of flying with overtly Muslim passengers.

The truth is, many believe Williams was ripe for firing from NPR because of his appearances and his often moderate views on the Fox News Channel.

The notion of defunding NPR is understandable; certainly it should be asked whether it makes sense to require taxpayers to support state-funded media when the choices of private media have exploded in recent decades.

But regardless of your stance on the funding, perhaps we can all agree on the need for more accountability and balance at NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Indeed, in the wake of the Williams affair, National Review magazine investigated the top management of NPR and discovered that it is nearly uniformly liberal -- and contributes money to overwhelmingly Democratic and left-wing causes.

This is not a surprise to those of us who have long known about the pervasive liberal bias at NPR -- even liberals roundly criticized NPR for firing Williams. But it is nonetheless an awakening to see the naked evidence: of 48 board members on whom information was obtained, writes Matthew Shaffer of the National Review Institute, "nearly all have demonstrably liberal political sympathies, with heavy support for the Democratic Party, pro-abortion-rights groups and environmental activism in particular."

By way of example, Shaffer notes that Antoine van Agtmael, chairman of the NPR Foundation, a fund-raising arm, "is a trustee of a liberal think tank, the Brookings Institution. He donated $1,000 to Obama for America in 2008, $2,000 to Kerry in 2004, and $1,000 each to Hillary Clinton and Terry Liermann in 2000. That's $5,000 -- every penny to Democrats."

The list goes on and on and on, with a few token exceptions.

There is no written policy requiring upper management at NPR to be liberal, but there might as well be: "De facto," Shaffer writes, "they have sure done a good job making their (board) members indistinguishable from that of an openly partisan organization."

That's not right, particularly since tax monies are involved.

Again, you have to wonder whether the government should be in the domestic broadcasting business anyway. But at the very least, Washington should send a clear message to NPR to seek a political balance in its management, in its programming and -- considering that Williams was sacked while liberal flamethrower Nina Totenberg has been kept on -- its personnel policies.

A little accountability and fairness isn't too much to ask.

It needs to be demanded.