Everyone knows that Republicans hate publicly funded anything.
Well, except for publicly funded health care for members of Congress. Or publicly funded bridges to nowhere. Or publicly funded
earmarks "transportation projects." Or publicly funded bonuses for Wall Street CEOs. Or publicly funded wars. Or publicly funded abstinence-only programs. Or publicly funded birth control for horses.
But other than that, Republicans hate publicly funded anything. Especially publicly funded media. Well, except when public funds are used to broadcast Rush Limbaugh to the troops on Armed Forces Radio. Then it's worthy of a Congressional commendation.
But other than that, Republicans hate publicly funded anything. And they especially hate National Public Radio.
Last year, after NPR fired Juan Williams, who also serves as the token "liberal" on Fox News, Republicans once again demanded the defunding of NPR. John Boehner claimed that "it’s reasonable to ask why Congress is spending taxpayers’ money to support a left-wing radio network – and in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing, it’s clearer than ever that’s what NPR is."
So it comes as no surprise that Republicans are now jumping on the latest James O'Keefe-manufactured scandal to again demand that NPR be stripped of its public funding. And the crux of this scandal? According to NPR:
NPR's soon-to-be-departing senior vice president for fundraising Ron Schiller is seen and heard on a videotape released this morning telling two men who were posing as members of a fictitious Muslim Education Action Center Trust that:
— "The Tea Party 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."
— "Tea Party people" aren't "just Islamaphobic, 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."
Schiller also claimed that NPR "would be better off in the long run without federal funding," but that, of course, isn't what has Republicans clutching their pearls in horror and reaching for the nearest fainting couch.
Let's put aside for a moment that this "gotcha" video is brought to us by the same O'Keefe who gave us the edited, doctored, and downright fictitious video intended to bring down ACORN. His videos should be given no more credence than pictures of Bat Boy on the cover of Weekly World News.
And this video is, of course, no different. According to Scott Baker at The Blaze, the raw footage, compared with O'Keefe's heavily edited video, tells a different story. Take, for example, Schiller's comment that has most incensed Republicans—that the Tea Party people are "seriously, seriously racist."
[T]he clip in the edited video implies Schiller is giving simply his own analysis of the Tea Party. He does do that in part, but the raw video reveals that he is largely recounting the views expressed to him by two top Republicans, one a former ambassador, who admitted to him that they voted for Obama.
But let's pretend—as the traditional media, including the oh-so-liberal NPR, is eager to do—that this video is an accurate portrayal of Schiller's conversation. Let's pretend that Schiller volunteered his own opinion that the Tea Party is racist.
So what? Is this really indisputable proof of NPR's liberal bias? Or is it just the simple truth?
Republicans would have us believe that accusations of racism within the Tea Party are inherently biased. Only a biased liberal would think that spitting on a Black member of Congress and calling him "nigger" is racist. Only a biased liberal would think that a satirical essay, in which the "coloreds" beg Abe Lincoln to take back their emancipation, is racist. Only a biased liberal could read the Tea Party Nation's solicitation of stories about being harmed by "illegals" and call it racist. Only a biased liberal could see signs at Tea Party rallies—accusing the president of white slavery, for example—and call it racism. Only a biased liberal could watch a video in which Tea Partiers proudly proclaim their hatred of the Muslims, Mexicans, "faggots," and Obama (who should be sent back to Kenya), and conclude that Tea Partiers are racist. Only a biased liberal could look at poll after poll after poll about the attitudes of Tea Party members toward minorities and conclude that the Tea Party is racist.
The Tea Party's racism is no secret. At rallies, on websites, in YouTube videos, the Tea Party's racism is on parade, without apology or shame. And while the most famous supporters of this party—from the talking heads on Fox to members of Congress—will dismiss the most egregious evidence of racism by saying that it does not represent the party as a whole, they don't exactly renounce it either. They like to pretend such incidents, like the assault on members of Congress, are the random acts of a few bad apples, when in fact, the whole barrel is rotten.
The problem isn't that an NPR employee called the Tea Party racist. The problem is that NPR didn't simply respond to this supposed "gotcha" video with a big yawn and a "Yeah? And?" Schiller said the Tea Party is racist. Oh my! This is the equivalent of a gotcha video showing a man saying the sky is blue. Shocking film at 11!
The problem is the unwillingness of the media, not to mention those on the left—including Vice President Biden—to state, unequivocally and unapologetically, that of course the Tea Party is racist. This isn't a debatable point, or at least, it shouldn't be debatable. Headlines about the Tea Party's racism don't require a question mark at the end. NPR needn't have tripped over itself to condemn the remarks of its vice president, even before the unedited video showed that Schiller was describing what Republicans had reported to him.
Members of the Tea Party claim they are simply motivated by their concern about the government's expanding powers. Of course, this party did not come into being during the Bush years, when the government justified warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention of American citizens, and FBI investigations of peace activists. No, back then, some of the very same people who are now so concerned about their liberty were quick to say that anyone who questioned the president was unpatriotic. This sudden outcry to restore freedom coincidentally emerged after the election of our first African-American president, who, according to a majority of the Tea Party, and, in fact, the entire Republican Party, isn't even a real American.
And yet the media is supposed to show the utmost deference to the Tea Party and to apologize whenever it makes the horrid misstep of even hinting that the party's members are, as Schiller said, "seriously, seriously racist." And even though Schiller is leaving NPR, as is its president and CEO, Republicans still insist that taxpayers should not have to support a "left-wing radio network."
After all, we are living in an era that demands strict adherence to the Republican principle that water is not wet, and anyone who says otherwise is guilty of liberal bias. "Fair and balanced" is the new prescription for the media. Any fact must be countered by a critic. Any report must include the "some say" counter-argument. And likewise, any Republican claim, no matter how unfounded, must be given its due coverage. We must engage in debates about whether the government wants to kill grandmothers or the existence of global warming because to say that these points are not debatable is to commit the worst of all crimes: liberal bias. And no one, from our vice president to National Public Radio, wants to be found guilty.