Should GOP House Use Newfound Power to Push for Defunding NPR?
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 29, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: In January, Republicans will officially take majority in House of Representatives. So will they use their newfound power to push for defunding National Public Radio?
Now, the debate on the issue flared up when the NPR CEO Vivian Schiller fired Fox News contributor Juan Williams over the controversial comments that he made on this network last month. Now in reality, Schiller's actions showed that the powers of be at NPR were dead set on making sure that only the left-wing opinions are aired on that network.
Now some Republicans are wondering why our taxpayer dollars are paying to put the liberal propaganda on the air. Now Republican Congressmen Eric Cantor and Doug Lamborn have already called a vote to defund the network, which was voted down in the House. Senator Jim DeMint is vowing to introduce a bill that would put an end to NPR's taxpayers subsidies.
So will the new GOP majority put more force behind these efforts? Joining me now with reaction from The Daily Caller, she's a senior writer and news columnist, S.E. Cupp and the founder of the Movement Vision Lab -- I don't know what that is -- Sally Kohn is here. Guys, good to see you. Thanks for being here.
Why should I pay -- we're broke, the country is headed for bankruptcy. Why a network that allows one commentator to wish Jesse Helms and his grandchildren get AIDS -- they didn't fire her -- why should we pay one taxpayer dollar for NPR?
SALLY KOHN, FOUNDER, MOVEMENT VISION LAB: All right, let's be clear. This isn't about the Juan Williams firing. I think the Juan Williams firing was a mistake, and it was stupid, but it wasn't censorship. But the government and particularly Republicans in the government saying to NPR and saying to public broadcasting that we're going to pull your funding because we don't like one thing you did here or there, that is censorship.
HANNITY: That is one issue, one argument. But explain to me why the any taxpayer dollars should go for radio when George Soros is donating $1.8 million and they raise, they supposedly claim most of their money on air. Although, there are sources that say they're not quite as honest how much money they get. Why should we pay any money for this? What is the function role of government here?
KOHN: Look, first of all, this is a trifle in terms of amounts of money and really, this is the Republicans trying to demagogue and trying to not have to talk about these serious issues, budget cutting. But we're talking about --
HANNITY: How about taxpayer dollars fund my radio show? Is that fair?
S.E. CUPP, THE DAILY CALLER: That's right. Why don't we have taxpayer dollars funding Fox News, Town Hall or NewsMax? This doesn't make any sense. Look, NPR was publicly funded for a majority of the '70s and '80s and the intent was always to wean it off government funding. So 1983 rolls around and there are $7 million in debt to us, OK and so they get a bailout, which is what the government does.
The point was to get them completely off so they went to the model of getting, you know, private contributions, George Soros type contributions. Why they're still being funded at all right now is a mystery. It's 30 years after the fact. It's time to end it.
KOHN: First of all, the mystery is why we're even talking about this. Every time, this conversation has been brought up and the attempts to defund have been raised, it failed. Because the majority of Americans, 67 percent of Americans get their news from NPR or PBS and according to the polls, the most trusted source in news.
CUPP: In 2005. In 2005.
HANNITY: According to polls, Fox News is the most trusted source of news.
CUPP: That's right. In 2005, it won award for being the most trusted name in news. I don't know if that is a viable proof.
KOHN: We're talking about $440 million.
CUPP: -- of their influence now which has diminished substantially.
HANNITY: Do you believe in freedom? Do you believe in free enterprise? Families are struggling to pay their mortgage. They can't send their kids to college. They can't make their car payments. Real unemployment is 17 percent. Why should any taxpayer dollars go to that and we could pay down the debt or help poor people, which is a big liberal cause. Why don't we spend the money on that?
KOHN: You're really trying to rope me in there. Look, we're talking about $440 million, that $1.43 per person.
HANNITY: $440 million of real money.
KOHN: The United States government spends three-and-a-half times more than that --
CUPP: That is not an argument.
KOHN: -- on office furniture.
CUPP: Not an argument.
KOHN: It is an argument.
CUPP: The government should not be using taxpayer money to fund non- essentials. Sorry, listening to car talk every night is not an essential use of government funding.
KOHN: Let's get really clear. We're not talking about funding NPR. We're talking about funding car talk. We're talking about funding over 1,000 local stations, most of which are in rural counties and areas that otherwise would not have local news coverage.
HANNITY: We might have had an argument years ago. But with the Internet, and cable news and more radio station than you could imagine, if you want liberal news somewhere, why can't they compete in the free marketplace of ideas.
HANNITY: Hang on a second, Air America, I said at the time I wanted them to succeed. Why? People would get off my back for expressing views as a conservative host. You know what? They failed. You know why? Nobody wants to hear them. If NPR is that popular, let people donate to NPR and keep them on the air. Let them get advertising like other radio stations.
KOHN: They do, but the reality is not enough.
HANNITY: No. All of it. All of it. Let them be self-sustaining.
CUPP: Not enough for what?
KOHN: This is what we do in a country where we formed a government to create and protect the common good. These are public needs --
HANNITY: Common good? Liberal propaganda is not the common good.
KOHN: OK, let's start with that. It's not liberal propaganda is not common good, the reality is this is a right-wing sort of coming out and saying --
HANNITY: Rush Limbaugh will be -- would they put Rush Limbaugh on there?
KOHN: First of all, any media that doesn't --
HANNITY: How many conservatives -- name a prominent conservative on NPR.
KOHN: I don't agree with it, but polls have shown that they quote the conservative think tanks than liberal think tanks.
HANNITY: Well that's settled.
KOHN: This is news and let's --
CUPP: It's not news.
KOHN: NPR devotes 21 percent of its time to the international coverage. Talk radio across the board, commercial talk radio report one percent. This is a public good.
HANNITY: You know why? I'll tell you why. Do you want to know why conservative talk radio works? People want to hear it.
KOHN: People don't --
CUPP: It survived the test of the marketplace of ideas which NPR is too scared to do.
KOHN: Millions of people donate to the NPR station as well --
HANNITY: Not everybody. All right. That's all the time we have left. Thank you for being with us. Good to see you both.
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