mailing list archives
GOP Staffers Told Federal Funds Doomed
From: Dave Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 1995 19:02:57 -0500
The Washington Post has generously given us permission to
reprint the article quoting Speaker Gingrich saying he will
scuttle any legislation that appropriates money for the CPB.
Special thanks to Alan Simpson in NPR's Public Information
Office for clearing permission from the Washington Post. If
you quote from the article in news stories, be sure to
credit The Washington Post. The text of the article
GINGRICH VOWS TO ZERO OUT CPB
GOP Staffers Told Federal Funds Doomed
by: Ellen Edwards
Saying that "the CPB still hasn't seen the light,"
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) declared yesterday at a
Capitol Hill lunch that he would scuttle any legislation
that appropriated money for the Corporation for Public
"They still don't realize that the appropriation is
gone, that the game is over," he told a group of current and
former senior Republican Hill staffers known as the Rams,
who meet for monthly off-the-record lunches. "The power of
the speaker is the power of recognition, and I will not
recognize any proposal that will appropriate money for the
CPB. What they should be doing is planning for the future."
The House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the
CPB is due to mark up rescissions on current funding for the
organization next week, and insiders believed the cuts would
be in the neighborhood of 15 to 30 percent. CPB funds the
Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.
Gingrich's comments were made before an audience of
about 100 at the Capitol Hill Club. They were made
available to The Washington Post by someone in attendance
and confirmed by his spokesman, Tony Blankley.
Gingrich has called for the elimination of CPB funding
in the past, but yesterday's statements went further than he
had gone before. In fact, less than a month ago he said at
a press briefing that his position to zero out all funding
was not "fixed in concrete."
CPB President Richard Carlson had not comment, but CPB
board Chairman Henry Cauthen said, "It is not a game with us
nor with the 1,000 public broadcasting stations that were
built with the help of the government for the public....Why
the speaker would go against the strongly held views of the
American public when 70 to 80 percent want to see public
broadcasting continue is a mystery to me."
He said it would be "one of the great tragedies of our
time" if public the broadcasting system were dismantled.
Gingrich also attacked the CPB board for firing former
Republican congressman Vin Weber, a close personal friend of
Gingrich whom the board had hired to help develop a
contingency business plan for possible privatization.
"The members of the board appointed by the Clinton
Administration fired him because that's not what they wanted
to hear. He wasn't fired because it looked bad to hire a
lobbyist," Gingrich said. "He was fired because he strongly
advised them to explore their private-sector options."
In recent weeks, some on the Hill have suggested that
public broadcasting could be sold to the private sector in
some way; Bell Atlantic, for one, has expressed interest in
buying what might be available. Public Broadcasting
executives have expressed concern that the system would be
broken up to further the interests of commercial
Gingrich fueled that concern yesterday when he said:
"They're sitting on very valuable assets. Channel 8 in
Atlanta is choice spectrum. Sell that slot to a commercial
operation, move PBS to Channel 36, and Georgia public
broadcasting could live forever on the interest from that
He told the group: "I don't understand why they call
it public broadcasting. As far as I am concerned, there's
nothing public about it; it's an elitist enterprise. Rush
Limbaugh is public broadcasting."
_________________end of article
From: RznDemoPM () aol com
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 1995 16:41:16 -0500
Subject: Tuning In to Tom Jefferson's TV
The Following Opinion Piece Ran in the Christian Science Monitor, Thursday,
February 16. It is reprinted with the permission of the Christian Science
Monitor. Copyright Paul Rosenberg, 1995.
Followed by the original text, which was written to the older, longer format
of opinion pieces in The Monitor.
Tuning In to Jefferson's TV
'Rugged individualism' versus an Enlightenment view of people as
naturally social beings. <<
A Common thread runs through the congressional attacks on the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB): a philosophy that sets the
government sharply at odds with the individual freedom. It is often called
"rugged individualism," but it's really a philosophy of rigid individualism,
which sees the individual as at war with "the state" or "collective society."
It is also a philosophy of rigged individualism, since its rhetoric of
individual autonomy furthers the power of corporate enterprises.
This philosophy is deeply ingrained, but it is not the only or even the
central philosophy of our culture and national identity.
During the 19th century, it was commonplace to read the the individualist
rhetoric of "social Darwinism" back into the 18th century political theory of
John Locke, and then into our Founding Fathers. But this myth was set aside
by Garry Wills in his remarkable book, "Inventing America: Jefferson's
Declaration of Independence."
He showed that the dominant philosophy in the thought of Jefferson and his
contemporaries was the Scottish Enlightenment "moral sense" philosophy, which
held that human nature includes individual appetites for shared pleasure,
such as our aesthetic appetite for beauty and our moral appetite for virtue.
Rigid individualists regularly fall back into the Hobbesian belief that
men are by nature selfish individuals, living lives outside society that are
"nasty, brutish and short."
Moral sense philosophy argues, however, that we are naturally social, and
government arises out of our nature. This does not, in itself, constitute an
argument for more government, but it helps us see voluntary associations as
central to our cultural and political lives, displacing the false opposition
of government vs. private enterprise.
The NEA and the NEH are successful because they have done an excellent job
of using government money to nurture such social structures in the arts and
the humanities. They are model Jeffersonian institutions. The CPB, on the
other hand, has largely failed to live up to its potential, presenting us
with too much imported drama, Beltway punditry, and corporate-sponsored
Contrast what you see today with what the Carnegie Commission called for
public television to do in 1967: to "help us see America whole, in all its
diversity"; to serve "as a forum for controversy and debate"; and to "provide
a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise be unheard."
This mandate is Jeffersonian to the core. It says that we all gain if
those who have been silenced are allowed to join that exchange of ideas and
experience on which a just government (deriving its powers from the consent
of the governed) must be based.
PBS has never fulfilled that mandate, in large part because another
Carnegie recommendation was ignored: funding by direct taxation on commercial
broadcasting, which could not exist without the private use of public
airwaves. Moreover, targeted corporate underwriting must end. Instead of
centralized bureaucratic control overseen by appointed boards, we need shared
decisionmaking by elected representatives, who strive to add views to the
This ``liberal'' vision of government activism and inclusion of the
powerless is the surest path to the promotion of a ``conservative'' ideal:
strong individuals in a strong society, taking personal responsibility for
their country as well themselves.
Paul Rosenberg is a writer in Los Angeles and founder of Reason and
Democracy and ts special project, the Committee to Save Public Media.
There is a common thread behind the ongoing Congressional attacks on the
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the
Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Whatever
the surface arguments are, there is lurking beneath them an attitude, a philos
ophy that sets the government sharply at odds with the freedom of the
This philosophy is often called "rugged individualism," evoking the myth of
frontier independence, but it's really a philosophy of rigid individualism,
which sees the individual as necessarily at war with "the state" or
"collective society," rather than seeing our individuality and our social
nature as mutually reinforcing aspects of our identity. It is also a
philosophy of rigged individualism, since its rhetoric of individual autonomy
serves to further the power of large corporate enterprises (individuals only
in the sense of a legal fiction) and free them of social responsibilities and
restraints that protect the property, lives and welfare of real
This philosophy is deeply ingrained in our history and culture, but it is not
the only, or even the central philosophy of our culture and national
identity. It is an appealing myth, but it is very poor history.
During the 19th Century, it became commonplace to read the 19th-Century
individualist rhetoric of "social Darwinism" back into the 18th-Century
political theory of John Locke, and then into our Founding Fathers, the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This myth was masterfully
set aside and replaced with careful scholarship and insight by Garry Wills in
his remarkable book, Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of
Through a rich variety of evidence and arguments, Wills showed that the
dominant philosophy in Jefferson's thought (along with his contemporaries),
was the Scottish Enlightenment moral sense philosophy (most fully developed
by Francis Hutcheson), which held that human nature included individual
appetites for shared pleasure, including our aesthetic appetite for beauty
and our moral appetite for virtue.
The social nature of this individual appetite is easily illustrated by Wills,
"One keeps the pleasure by giving it. Thus there are, at a minimum, four
people involved in any act of Hutchesonian benevolence--a man (A) sees B
being kind to C and prolongs the pleasure caused at that sight be being kind,
himself, to D. This act will, of course, stimulate pleasure in other
onlookers, E, F, and so on."
Rigid individualists regularly fall back into the Hobbesian belief that men
are by nature selfish individuals, living lives outside society that are
"nasty, brutish and short." This view confuses government and society, and
sees them both--however necessary--as demanding a surrender of "natural
liberty" in exchange for the blessings they bring.
Moral sense philosophy denies the existence of such a pre-social,
anti-social, "natural" state: we are naturally social, and government arises
out of our nature, rather than being imposed upon it. This does not, in
itself, constitute an argument for more government. Jefferson was justly and
wisely suspicious of the tendency towards tyranny in any government. Rather,
it helps, on one hand, to demythologize our criticisms of government in
general and to direct them towards specific problems and solutions. On the
other hand, it helps us see the workings of voluntary associations as central
to our cultural and political lives, displacing the false opposition of
public government vs. private enterprise, both of which are secondary
institutions that depend upon our moral sense, and the social structures that
evolve from it, in order to survive.
The NEA and the NEH are successful organizations largely because they have
done an excellent job of using government money to nurture such social
structures in the arts and the humanities. They are model Jeffersonian
institutions. They have vastly expanded the reach of the arts and
humanities, making them far more popular, diverse and participatory, where
they were once more elitist, monolithic and exclusive. Before they were
established, there were just 37 professional dance companies in America, now
there are nearly 300, there were 58 symphony orchestras, now there are more
than a thousand, just one million people a year went to the theater, now over
55 million go yearly.
The CPB, on the other hand, has largely failed to live up to its Jeffersonian
potential, presenting us with vibrant programming for children, but far too
much imported drama, Beltway punditry, and corporate-sponsored programming
for any Jeffersonian's taste. Contrast what you see on PBS with the Carnegie
Commission's 1967 mandate that called for public television:
1) to "help us see America whole, in all its diversity;"
2) to serve "as a forum for controversy and debate;"
3) to "provide a voice for groups in the community that may otherwise
This mandate is Jeffersonian--and Hutchesonian--to the core. It does not
suppose that life is a zero-sum game of isolated and antagonistic
individuals, that some must lose if others--specifically, those excluded--are
allowed to win. It says that we all shall gain if those who have been
silenced are allowed to speak and join the conversation, the exchange of
ideas and experience on which a just government (deriving its powers from the
consent of the governed) must be based. It says that our nation,
individually and collectively, shall be the richer if we commit ourselves,
together, to those things that money cannot buy: justice, truth, and virtue.
PBS never fulfilled that mandate, in large part because another
recommendation was ignored: the call for funding by direct taxation on the
commercial broadcast industry, which could not exist without the private use
of the public airwaves. Such funding, immune from the tamperings of
politicians, would go a long way toward allowing the CPB to emulate the
success of the NEH and the NEA. But more is needed to ensure that end.
Public broadcasting must be democratic in its form and function. Targeted
corporate underwriting, begun under Nixon in 1972, must end; money should
never call the shots in programming decisions. In place of centralized
control from appointed boards, we need a multi-level system of shared
decision-making by elected representatives, who strive to add more views to
the conversation, not to censor those they disagree with.
Such an outcome is not possible in a vacuum. It can only happen as part of a
larger process, a process of rediscovering the real foundations of our
democracy, in our history, in ourselves and in our everyday lives. The
groundswell of support for public broadcasting is a starting point for this
process, but it must become a constructively critical force if the Jeffersonia
n promise of public broadcasting is ever to be kept.
This "liberal" vision of government activism and inclusion of the powerless
is the surest path to the promotion of a "conservative" ideal: strong
individuals in a strong society, taking personal responsibility for their
country as well themselves.
- GOP Staffers Told Federal Funds Doomed Dave Farber (Feb 22)