NPR Funding

March 9, 2011 1:55:41 PM PST
Let the debate flare about NPR, formerly National Public Radio, and its position in the national landscape and in the long line of non-profits caught up in current funding flaps and brouhahas in Washington.

NPR is caught up in the legitimate conversation over what gets funded and what doesn't, as the country tries to cut spending and cope with a budget that is, by anyone's definition, out of control.

What's not legitimate is the sneaky way some activists are trying to undermine NPR and another non-profit, Planned Parenthood by posing as people they're not.

What are we coming to when folks with a particular point of view and they're certainly entitled to it engage in going undercover, pretending to be "friendly" and secretly recording what is expected to be a private conversation, and then releasing it publicly.

None of this is in any way meant to condone any conversation that comes out of these entrapment encounters. The point is that the underhanded undercover schemes are cynical and unethical. In the case of the NPR chief fundraiser who has resigned, as has the CEO of NPR, he was secretly recorded by a conservative and, his critics say, mischievous filmmaker. The tape features people posing as Muslim benefactors looking to donate up to $5 million to NPR. The New York Times this afternoon reported that the same "Muslim philanthropists" also met with folks from Public Broadcasting (PBS).

The fundraiser then makes various remarks about how the Republican Party has been "hijacked" by the Tea Party, and he calls Tea Party supporters as "seriously racist, racist people."

All of it caught on tape. All of it coming at a time when NPR is already under fire for dismissing Juan Williams (for comments he made on Fox News about profiling Muslims on airplanes) and when Republicans and, yes, Tea Partiers, are asking tough questions about whether taxpayer funding for NPR should be cut.

The same undercover style of recordings were made of the community organizing group ACORN, and of Planned Parenthood.

Let the debate flare. But let it flare in an open, honest format and as part of a discussion that's open and honest.

I'm just sayin'.

We'll have the latest on the turmoil at NPR, including today's resignation of the CEO, at 11. And, for the record, the latest public opinion surveys show huge support for continued funding for public broadcasting with 69% in favor.

Also at 11, a horrible accident on Staten Island this afternoon. A FDNY fire truck, heading to a car fire, colliding with a 15-passenger van carrying special-needs adults. One of the people in the van was killed, and several others are in critical condition. Half a dozen firefighters were also hurt.

The fire truck, we're told, had its lights and sirens on. What happened, exactly, we're still trying to figure out.

Flooding is the weather story for this week. So many towns already dealing with crested rivers that will not subside below flood stages before another bout of heavy rain move in tomorrow. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg is tracking the storms and we'll be out in the flood zones, as folks prepare for the onslaught.

We're also taking a closer look at the emerging market for electric cars. Consumer Reports is out with its take on the plug-in autos, and we'll examine which ones are the real deal and which ones aren't.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


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