So where are they now with Kroc? Most reporters are not just comfortable with this cozy leftist arrangement, they're awed by it all. The Washington Post published (without giggles or groans) a Kroc spokesman insisted, "She loved NPR and its unfiltered presentation of the news. ... It wasn't liberal, and it wasn't conservative. It was as objective as you're going to find."
Let's be clear about something here. NPR didn't need that money. They report their annual budget is $100 million a year from public and private sources, more than enough for even lazy liberals to run a radio network. So it begs the questions: In an age of roaring budget deficits, shouldn't we be reducing the federal outlay to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by an equivalent $200 million? By $100 million? By $10 million? Dream on.
In Public Broadcasting Economics 101, there is no such thing as enough. Public broadcasters seek to maximize their funding in nearly all cases. Like a thirsty sponge, they will absorb money from federal, state and local governments, and then turn around and beg and plead their way through pledge drives for every private dollar they can get their hands on.
What did NPR do with its Kroc gift? They quickly announced they're putting $175 million in trust, and then just drawing on the interest payments of about $10 million a year. That's not taxpayer relief. That's not pledge-drive relief. It's hoarding.
NPR spokeswoman Jessamyn Sarmiento told local stations there's no new money for them: "By no means does it mean that people should stop thinking that their local public radio station is going to continue to need their support."
NPR President Kevin Klose painted reporters a surrealist picture of the NPR budget: "beginning in the late '70s and through the sequential years, the amount of federal support directed to us has disappeared to almost nothing." Truth serum, please? The Corporation for Public Broadcasting sends large chunks of taxpayer change to local public-radio stations, and they send a pile of it back to NPR headquarters as "program fees." Their federal take has to be at least 15 to 20 percent of their budget, but their budgeting is a confusing mess designed to give reporters headaches.
Through all the public-relations fog, the Kroc donation doesn't help NPR be more accountable, more privatized, more localized, and certainly not more fair and balanced. It just makes NPR a fatter, and even more liberal, sacred cow.