Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
Some Republican members of Congress want to cut off National Public Radio's federal funding in the wake of the firing of NPR and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Speaking on Fox earlier this week, Williams said that he gets nervous when he sees people in "Muslim garb" on airplanes. Long Island Congressman Peter King said on Fox News Friday that if Republicans take control of the House there will be a move to defund NPR.
"This case shows conclusively that the American tax payers should not be subsidizing such a biased, left-wing liberal apparatus," King said. "I'd say the same thing if NPR was as conservative as they are liberal now."
But Manhattan Democrat Jerrold Nadler says that NPR provides a valuable service for the community and that the firing of Juan Williams, whether that was right or wrong, is a completely different issue. "What they're saying is that Congress should defund an agency because they disagree with what it did, and that is totally wrong," Nadler said. "That, in effect, is censorship. Censor what they did by removing the funding."
Nadler says if Republicans really think the firing was so wrong, they should demand it be reversed. "Then you can have an intelligent discussion about whether it was the right thing to do or not," Nadler said.
In a statement regarding public funding, NPR says, "It’s inappropriate to interject the subject of federal funding of public radio into this issue. It crosses the line separating funding of any kind from news content and editorial decision-making."
NPR says it currently receives about 2 percent of its funding from public sources.
New York Public Radio, which includes WNYC and WQXR, receives 6 percent of its funding from public sources.