- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2011



Republicans and conservatives aren’t your usual merry pranksters. Playing pranks at the expense of politicians, pundits and other deserving targets is supposed to be the province of Democrats and liberals.

It turns out that conservatives are pretty good at it. The sting that bounced two senior executives from their cushy jobs at National Public Radio seriously threatens public broadcasting’s access to swag from the U.S. Treasury. The long campaign of conservatives to defund NPR now finds new momentum. It’s harder for the friends of government radio to defend the pompous arrogance of “public broadcasting” now that it’s stripped of its fig leaf and fully exposed as a perk for the liberal-left big-government establishment.

Embarrassing the pompous windbags and greedy gormandizers at the public trough is always good, clean fun, but the effects usually don’t last long. We’re entitled to enjoy masterpiece theater like this while we can. We paid for it, after all. The only defense the defenders of NPR can mount is that James O’Keefe, the young filmmaker who captured the sting on video, did something not very polite. But the stingee, like the guest of honor at a hanging, is never meant to enjoy the occasion.

Ron Schiller, the head beggar at NPR, was merely caught on videotape being his natural self, saying the things the folks at NPR actually think, but insist they don’t. Mr. Schiller obviously isn’t as bright as a beggar ought to be, being lured to lunch by men who identified themselves as rich Muslims eager to contribute $5 million to the network. Mr. Schiller got no help from his sidekick at the table, Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional begging. She turned off her feminine intuition, the better to enjoy the lunch at Cafe Milano, where the Eurotrash famously meet to eat and greet in the nation’s capital.

So it didn’t take long for “Ibrahim” and his faux associate, “Amir Malik,” to lure Mr. Schiller to mount his soapbox to say the stereotypical things he figured wealthy Muslims wanted to hear. A reference or two to Republicans and the Tea Party, to perfidious Zionists and wicked Christians, and Mr. Schiller swallowed the worm. “The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party,” he said, “is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian — I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move.” (NPR even keeps an in-house theologian to parse the doctrines and monitor the trust and troth of the Christian denominations. Who knew?)

And the Tea Party people — they aren’t “just Islamophobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people. In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives.”

Well, if they are, you certainly couldn’t prove it by Ron Schiller. The storm that broke only minutes after The Washington Times posted the video on the Internet grew to epic proportions because it was evidence in living color that NPR was as haughty, overbearing, arrogant and supercilious as its critics had been saying for years. Mr. Schiller should have been at least a little wary, since the knives are out as the House is primed to take up defunding legislation. The sacking of Vivian Schiller, the CEO at NPR who claims no kin to Ron Schiller, was inevitable.

The humanitarians among us should shed no tears for Mzz Schiller. She won’t be on the street. Her predecessor bailed NPR under a $1.3 million parachute. The face of public broadcasting may be the endless begging marathon, but the salaries paid to administrators (and some on-air performers) would strike most Americans as fabulous.

There’s never been a better opportunity to rid public broadcasting of its dependence on public welfare to spread its left-wing bias and propaganda. Public broadcasting could have leavened the bias years ago and saved itself by easing up on the mockery and ridicule of the things most Americans hold dear. We can be glad it didn’t; government radio is the norm in Pyongyang and Havana and Tehran, but never here. All things considered, the left and the liberals should pay for their own entertainment. The rest of us do.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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