The Corner

Juan Williams: ‘Time to Defund NPR’

A few weeks ago, I reported on my colleague Adam Thierer’s findings about the demographics of NPR listeners (according to NPR itself):

The median age of the NPR listener is 50.

The median household income of an NPR News listener is about $86,000, compared to the national average of about $55,000.

NPR’s audience is extraordinarily well-educated.  Nearly 65% of all listeners have a bachelor’s degree, compared to only a quarter of the U.S. population.  Also, they are three times more likely than the average American to have completed graduate school.

The majority of the NPR audience (86%) identifies itself as white.

It’s a well-educated, high-income, over-50, white audience. There is obviously no reason to subsidize these listeners.

This morning, former NPR correspondent Juan Williams gave another reason for ending the subsidy.

Rep. Steve Israel (D- N.Y.) chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a fundraising letter with the following argument for maintaining public funding of NPR:

“They [Republicans] know NPR plays a vital role in providing quality news programming – from rural radio stations to in-depth coverage of foreign affairs. If the Republicans had their way, we’d only be left with the likes of Glenn Beck, Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to dominate the airwaves.”

With that statement Congressman Israel made the case better than any  Republican critic that NPR is radio by and for liberal Democrats. He is openly asking liberal Democrats to give money to liberal Democrats in Congress so they can funnel federal dollars into news radio programs designed to counter and defeat conservative Republican voices.

I agree with Reason’s Nick Gillespie that defunding NPR wouldn’t have much impact on the deficit, but that’s certainly no reason to continue to pay for it. Besides, defunding all the programs that the federal government shouldn’t be paying for would have an impact, if only because it would end the practice of funding special interests at the expense of taxpayers.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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