On June 30, 1972, two weeks after the Watergate burglars were taken into custody, Richard Nixon vetoed a congressional bill to double and treble federal funding for public broadcasting.
Nixon's stunning veto was sustained. Yet he had only "scotched the snake, not killed it," in the words of MacBeth.
Having escaped the ax, PBS and its little sister, National Public Radio, with their consistently leftist bias, grew fat on 40 years of federal money.
Nixon would express regret he had not followed the advice of those who urged him to terminate taxpayer funding and force public television and radio to compete fairly with private broadcasting.
Early in 2011, a Republican House and a more Republican Senate will have a second chance to succeed where Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush I and II failed to try -- to terminate tax funding of PBS and NPR.
This vote will be an early test of the GOP's claim that, having been burned in 2006 and 2008, it has learned its lesson, that Big Government conservatism was a fatal attraction and remains an oxymoron.
As any viewer of cable news now knows, what has pushed NPR into the crosshairs of Tea Party sharpshooters was its egregious act of liberal bigotry against Juan Williams, a 10-year veteran of NPR.
Williams, a moderate-liberal African-American who worked for The Washington Post and now works at Fox News, was fired for telling Bill O'Reilly that, when boarding an airliner where Muslims are wearing visibly Muslim garb, he gets "nervous," he gets "worried."
Whether Williams was fired for harboring such feelings, or for having confessed them to O'Reilly, we do not know. But NPR President Vivian Schiller said that if Juan did entertain such feelings, they should have remained "between him and his psychiatrist."
Schiller's NPR calls to mind other places where folks who confessed to thoughts offensive to the regime ended up in insane asylums and re-education camps, the Soviet Union and South Vietnam post-1975.
Yet, as this episode, like a flash of lightning, suddenly illuminated the ideological landscape at NPR, it is most welcome.
As for Juan, not to worry. He has a new three-year, $2 million contract with Fox. He is known to a larger national audience, and in a positive way. He is widely seen as having been scapegoated by bigots and bravely fought back.
But the reasons for defunding PBS and NPR, and their parent, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, are far broader. They involve not just politics and economics, but principles and the Constitution.
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