After a $200 Million Dollar Gift... Does NPR Still Need Tax Dollars?

Published December 29, 2003

| FoxNews.com

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, which originally aired on November 11, 2003 and re-aired on December 26, 2003.

Watch The O'Reilly Factor weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the Radio Factor!

BILL O'REILLY, HOST:  In the Impact segment tonight, we deserve a break today.
NPR has announced the latest -- the largest, I should say, donation in its
history. The widow of the guy who founded McDonald's has given the
publicly-funded radio network $200 million. -- $200 million!

Now there is no truth to the rumor that this happened because NPR's
ombudsman sided with me in the dust up with that outfit. Joan Kroc (search), it
seems, just liked NPR and rewarded it in her will. So now with all that
money, shouldn't NPR get out of the government subsidy business? With us
now is Congressman Anthony Weiner, a member of the Congressional Public Broadcasting Caucus (search). So look, $200 million. Let's get them off the dole,
right, and save money for the taxpayers.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Well, I'm not sure I understand
the reasoning. We also got hundreds of millions of dollars from Microsoft
to help New York City schools. That doesn't mean we reduced funding to
education...

O'REILLY: Yes, but...

WEINER: ...but the fact of the matter is...

O'REILLY: ...there's a little bit of difference between the kids and,
you know, some pinheads at NPR spouting what they spout. Not that I object
to that, but why don't they just compete? You got $247 million endowment.
That's going to last them a couple of years. And if they invest it wisely,
it could last them forever.

WEINER: Well, actually, NPR doesn't get much money from the federal
government. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting gives almost all of
its money to individual radio stations around the country to help them
operate.

O'REILLY: Right. And what do they carry?

WEINER: And NPR, which...

O'REILLY: They carry NPR.

WEINER: Yes, but NPR only gets about $1 million to $2 million. They
get -- they compete for grants.

O'REILLY: But this is a shell game because they use public
facilities. A lot of them on state campuses. It's a shell game.

WEINER: The radio stations do.

O'REILLY: Yes, the radio stations do.

WEINER: Yes, the radio -- well, you're not opposed to funding the
radio stations. You just don't like the programming.

O'REILLY: I'm opposed to any government funding of the media. Let
them compete. Let them get out in the marketplace. Why do I need my tax
dollars and your tax dollars, because you guys just got a raise so you have
to pay more now, going to Bill Moyers to tell me why it's good to be a
socialist? I mean, that's ridiculous.

WEINER: I think that's fair. In that case, maybe we should charge
Fox for its license.

O'REILLY: Why? Where a tax...

WEINER: You get $500 million in revenue in one year advertising.

O'REILLY: Whoa, we pay taxes on that.

WEINER: Do you know how much you pay for your license? 

O'REILLY: We pay taxes on that.

WEINER: Zero, Bill. You pay zero.

O'REILLY: But hold it, hold it. I pay taxes. Fox pays taxes. OK?

WEINER: Right.

O'REILLY: Moyers is a foundation, tax-free. And he doesn't -- NPR
doesn't pay any taxes. Neither does PBS.

WEINER: Listen, if you want...

O'REILLY: Come on.

WEINER: ...everyone to compete on the level playing field...

O'REILLY: I do.

WEINER: ...in that case, Fox should pay for the license it gets from
the federal government. Is that fair? That's fair, isn't it?

O'REILLY: All right, look, then you charge everybody the same and Fox
will be on board. But you're dodging the question...

WEINER: Wait a minute, hold on a second. Everyone's -- you mean that
you think Fox should be charged for its license. You make $500 million a
year.

O'REILLY: What you're doing is you're doing the shell game that the
public broadcasting is. You're diverting the issue. They got $200 million
at NPR. They don't need our tax money. PBS doesn't need our tax money.

WEINER: The station with radio stations...

O'REILLY: Let them compete.

WEINER: ....get our money, not the programmers. The radio stations,
the individual radio stations...

O'REILLY: It's the same thing. We don't need individual radio
stations funded by the government.

WEINER: They're actually a very small portion of the government.

O'REILLY: It doesn't matter if there are two of them. We don't need
it.

WEINER: You don't think public radio is a good bargain?

O'REILLY: No.

WEINER: You don't think that 30 cents per American to have all these
public radio stations that...

O'REILLY: They can have them in...

WEINER: ...that don't -- hold on -- that don't have to yield to
commercial interests, that can put on unfettered...

O'REILLY: What commercial interests?

WEINER: ...well, obviously...

O'REILLY: Unfettered?

WEINER: Unfettered by corporate considerations.

O'REILLY: It's largely left wing diatribes that are going on.

WEINER: Listen, you might not like what's on there, and that is your
freedom. Some people think they're a right wing diatribe...

O'REILLY: Why do I have to pay for it?

WEINER: On this? Well, we're paying for this. It's the same
reasoning. If you don't like public radio, that's fair. NPR, you don't
like the programming of NPR, that's fair. But the funding the tax dollars
goes towards is the radio stations, not the content.

O'REILLY: All right...

WEINER: And that is...

O'REILLY: I don't want you guys...

WEINER: It's a public resource.

O'REILLY: ...funding radio stations. I want the radio stations to
compete. And now with Joan Kroc giving $200 million, then they have the
seed money in which they can compete. So you looking out for the
taxpayers...

WEINER: Overwhelmingly...

O'REILLY: ...want to bring down government spending, as I know you do
say look, thank you, Joan. Now they can compete.

WEINER: Overwhelmingly, that is they're funded by membership, by
people who write...

O'REILLY: Let them all be funded by membership.

WEINER: In that case, don't be a phony. Fox should pay for its
license. That is a license to print money. Fox doesn't do it. And you're
not getting on...

O'REILLY: Neither does CBS or NBC or ABC.

WEINER: Exactly.

O'REILLY: They don't have to pay.

WEINER: Yes, but don't say oh, government subsidies are terrible for
media when you're getting the biggest one of all.

O'REILLY: We're not getting any subsidies, because we pay corporate
taxes.

WEINER: It's huge. I know, but you make enormous profit at the
public expense.

O'REILLY: How many taxes does NPR pay?

WEINER: They're not making a profit, Bill.

O'REILLY: Because...

WEINER: You're making...

O'REILLY: ...they are just taking and not giving.

WEINER: Let me give you the numbers. $500 million is what Fox sold
in ad space in the last year. They paid for that right to broadcast.
Zero. Do they pay taxes on that? Sure...

O'REILLY: Of course.

WEINER: ...but they made enormous profits at the U.S. government
support.

O'REILLY: All right, here's the bottom line on this. If Fox didn't
make the profits, we couldn't have given you the raise. If you're
dependent on NPR, you'd be broke.

WEINER: No, we're funding NPR because it's a good thing for our
constituents, like a lot of other things we fund.

O'REILLY: I'm a constituent. I'm not asking you for any dough.

WEINER: You're getting it.

O'REILLY: All right.

WEINER: You're getting it now.

O'REILLY: There you go. Anthony Weiner, ladies and gentlemen, trying
to divert the issue. Thanks. We always enjoy talking to you, Congressman.

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