December 7, 2009 3:17PM

All the News That’s Fit to Subsidize

Today, Politico Arena asks:

NPR v. Fox News?

My post:

Do I sense a bit of chutzpa in Politico’s report today that NPR executives have asked their top political correspondent, Mara Liasson, to reconsider her appearances on Fox News because of what the executives perceive as the network’s political bias? The request would be impertinent if NPR itself were beyond reproach, ideologically, but “fair and balanced” it is not. It’s a playpen for the left, subsidized by the American taxpayer, exceeded in its biases only by Pacifica Radio, another tax subsidized playpen straight out of the late ’60s.

There’s nothing wrong with a news organization tilting left or right, of course: let the public then decide, as the Fox News numbers show the public is doing. (And that, plainly, is what’s behind the White House efforts to marginalize the one network that’s had the audacity to criticize it systematically.) There is something deeply wrong, however, with asking the public to subsidize that tilt. NPR and its listeners would be screaming, and rightly so, if the taxpayers were subsidizing Fox News. Is it any different in their case? And please don’t say that NPR’s news is “news” — we’re all adults here. There’s a reason conservatives, mostly, and libertarians want to reduce the reach of government. It’s because so much of life — from news to education, religion, health care, the arts, and so much more — is fraught with values about which reasonable people can have reasonable differences. For that, there is only one answer: freedom, including freedom, as Jefferson put it, from having to subsidize views one finds abhorrent.