John King, USA

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March 9th, 2011
07:45 PM ET

NPR host: Some federal funding will survive

(CNN) – Longtime public radio host Diane Rehm told CNN's John King on Wednesday that congressional Republicans pushing to cut all federal funding for National Public Radio are really "looking at a way to silence public broadcasting."

In an exclusive interview on "John King, USA," Rehm told King that a recently released undercover video of an NPR executive had "given those who don't believe in public funding for public broadcasting, more and more

In the hidden-camera footage, NPR's senior vice president for fundraising Ron Schiller was recorded saying that his company would "better off without federal funding."

"Initially this young man Schiller did not even investigate who these people were," Rehm said, referring to the conservative activists who caught Schiller on a hidden camera. "[He] went out and said such things. If I had known you for 10 minutes John, would I have said those things to you? These were the views of one individual making foolish comments that are now reflecting on the entire organization."

Schiller had announced before the undercover video surfaced that he would be leaving NPR for another position this spring, but said on Tuesday that his resignation was effective immediately in light of the damaging video.

But despite all the attention Schiller's comments have received, Rehm expressed confidence that some funding for public radio would survive.

"I won't say how much," Rehm said. "I don't think public broadcasting is going to be zeroed out because I don't believe people across this country want to see public funding zeroed out. I think they may feel that like every other institution it needs to be reduced because of the deficit but not zeroed out."

Rehm, who has hosted The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU in Washington for more than 25 years, also laid out the difficulties her station would face if it lost federal funding, saying that it would "have to find 8,000 more listeners who will not only contribute once, but continue to contribute year after year."

"Now that's Washington, that's Baltimore," Rehm said. "What happens across the country to smaller stations? Washington is not all of public radio. You got to think about what's going to happen to the rest of the system."

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Tina Louise

    I am so pleased with her demeanor. She is so elegant in her approach to such a serious issue. I was absolutely pleased with John's approach and questioning to her; she is a highly intelligent woman and I LOVED the interview!

    March 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  2. Dan

    Why is any tax money going towards a group with very clear political leanings? From Israel bashing to GOP bashing NPR has made no attempt to hide its true colors. If NPR was as hard on the left and Dems this would be a different story. Stopped listening to them as an objective news source a while ago .

    March 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  3. Eric W.

    It would be nice to hear the most important and obvious reason CPB (who partially funds NPR) should be defunded. The viewpoints expressed by them and the radio stations associated with them present predominiantly , if not exclusively, those from the democratic side. If they wish to receive public funds then they should be required to equally present the viewpoints from the republican side as well.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  4. Mobi

    Let's see if liberal radio can survive on its own.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  5. Maggie Preston

    Diane Rehm is the greatest, and if I lose her as part of my day, it will leave a void no one else can fill. That Schiller idiot has done terrible and possibly lasting damage to an invaluable news source, which actually practices ethical, informative, concise yet comprehensive journalism. Where else can you find that on the air today?

    FYI: This is a no-party gal talking here, NOT liberal except on the environment, rather conservative when it comes to social and political matters, kinda moderate in everything else. Darn you, Mr. Schiller, for your thoughtless, unprofessional blunder.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  6. John Ventura

    Time to end funding this obvious and blatant excuse for liberal bias to infest the air waves.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  7. Stephen Davis

    Mr King: You twice referred to the tactics of the two men who met with Mr. Schiller as "ethically questionable". I believe the Godfather of "gotcha journalism" and hidden cameras is none other than Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes, respectively. Would you similarly question Mr. Wallace's ethics? As young teens who rarely watched the news, my friends and I would watch 60 Minutes every Sunday night to see who Mike would "get" next. This is why the expression, "you know you're having a bad day when Mike Wallace knocks on your door" was so common. Law enforcement has often used similar methods-mainly because criminals do not usually voluntarily confess. Would Mr. Schiller make the same kind of statements in an on-camera interview with someone like yourself? I believe the person who is ethically (and morally) "questionable' is Mr. Schiller.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  8. Armando

    It is time to stop funding public broadcasting. NPR will do just fine without federal funding, and cutting $450 million from the federal budget would be a very good thing in my opinion.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  9. Uncle Marsh

    No, it won't. If the content is great – which much of it is – then it should be able to survive in the marketplace of ideas without government subsidy.

    I worked at PBS/NPR as a college student and loved the experience but with it's institutional liberal bias it is unworthy of government support.

    March 9, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  10. TekNoJ

    Schiller is right that NPR could do better without fed funding. Cut the strings and stop being a puppet.

    Rehm fails to say that to get those 8000 new contributers NPR would have to appeal to the listener more...a more liberal voting block.

    And if liberals in NYC or DC want to make sure a liberal voice is her on NPR Alabama they better contribute to the network.

    March 10, 2011 at 5:34 am |