Flipping Big Bird

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is walking through the streets of Lowertown when he encounters MyLyssa SILBERMAN, who covers the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats for National Public Radio’s Twin Cities bureau.  SILBERMAN steps out of a Taoist nail salon in Lowertown, and runs into BERG.  

SILBERMAN: Merg.

BERG:  Hey, MyLyssa.  What’s new?

SILBERMAN:  On assignment, looking for the people spreading fake good news about the Trump Administration.

BERG:  Exposer’s gotta expose, huh?

SILBERMAN:  Yep.  It’s why we have public broadcasting – doing the tough, unbiased jobs nobody else would do.

BERG:   Just reporting the facts.

SILBERMAN:  Correct.

BERG:  Like the fact that gun violence is down sharply over the past two decades, and gun control has had nothing to do with it.

SILBERMAN:  Heavens, no.  That would be biased.  Hey – we just finished out pledge drive week.  Did you donate?

BERG:  Nah.  I mean, I listen to the news, and I sometimes tune into mock, taunt and fisk “On The Media“, and I do happen to like what Chris Thile has done with Prairie Home Companion.  But I don’t listen much, and I figure I pay for it with my taxes.

SILBERMAN:   Oh, good heavens, no.  Taxes are just a tiny portion of what Public Broadcasting runs on.  Insignificant, really.  Almost nothing.  Pennies on the dollar, if that.  If you think we’re “government radio”, you’re spreading alternate facts.  Nothing “socialist” about us.  Taxes are pretty much insignificant.  Totally.

BERG:  Whew.  I was worried that I’d hear all sorts of “sky is falling” panic because Trump is proposing cutting federal subsidies to Public Broadca

SILBERMAN:  (Eyes go wide with rage and fear) NO!  CUTTING THE FEDERAL SUBSIDY WOULD DESTROY PUBLIC MEDIA!  YOU’LL BE BOILING BIG BIRD!  YOU’LL BE GANG-RAPING ALL THAT IS GOOD ABOUT OUR SOCIETY!   EVERY SINGLE PENNY OF FUNDING GOES STRAIGHT INTO THE MOJTHS OF THE NEPHEWS AND NIECES OF PUBLIC BROADCASTING EMPLOYEES!   YOU’LL DESTROY THE ONLY RELIABLE SOURCE OF VALID NEWS ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN NOT TO NORMALIZE TRUMP THAT THERE IS IN THE AMERICAN MEDIA!    NOT ONLY MUST NOT A PENNY BE DIVERTED, BUT WE NEED MORE!  MORE!  MORE!

BERG:  So – hands off public radio budgets…

SILBERMAN:  NOT ONE PENNY OR WE’LL ALL STARVE!

BERG:  So it’s really government radio after all…

SILBERMAN:  (resuming nasal NPR-casting voice, complete with faint sound of Ghanaian drum choirs in the background) No.  Absolutely not.

BERG:  Glad we could clarify this.

And SCENE.  

6 thoughts on “Flipping Big Bird

  1. NPR gets 14% of its funding from the feds:
    http://www.npr.org/about-npr/178660742/public-radio-finances
    For years they liked to say that they only got a few percent from the feds — you had to dig a little deeper to find that federal funding contributed indirectly with grants to local stations to pay for NPR or APM content.
    And of course the ‘tax deductible donation’ is a defacto subsidy — as any NPR listener will tell you, if you ask about the deduction for giving to a church.

  2. One year, during the GWB administration, one of my friends asked me to sign a petition to not cut arts funding. I replied that I would actually appreciate seeing more user supported arts funding and less government. With user supported funding, I can choose to support art that I appreciate, that fits my values, and that I find to be appealing in a variety of ways. Likewise, she could do the same and we wouldn’t even have to support the same art. I further explained that with the government funding art, it would likely have to meet criteria based on appealing to the masses, or it could be arbitrarily funded based on who is in charge. I then asked this liberal leaning friend, would you want Bush choosing the art you see and hear? I didn’t get a response, nor did I ever get further requests to sign petitions like this.

  3. The way you can “fix” government arts funding is to have a board approve all grants and projects, with the board made up of ten volunteers, five chosen by the R’s and five by the D’s. Only projects that receive 7 out of ten votes are funded. Board members serve for one year, so if one or more “go rogue” they can be replaced.

  4. MP: You want to inject sanity into a system which has mastered the art of running a finely tuned oligarchy?

  5. I don’t think you can fix arts funding, though MP’s got a good start. The ugly reality is that the person who is willing to spend a lot of time doing grant reviews has already revealed their politics, no matter what their voter registration and list of friends says.

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