Ken Stern, who was NPR’s chief operating officer before becoming its CEO in 2006, has said that even though the network now gets “less than 10 percent of its funding” from government, that money comes at an “enormous cost in terms of credibility, focus, and the efforts they have to do to maintain that support.”
Stern told Newsmax TV this week that “with that relatively modest funding, they’d be smart to actually think carefully about going on their own with corporate, individual, institutional, and foundation support . . . There are actually a group of charities that do pretty well on their own.”
Mr. Stern, the author of a new book on charitable giving, is onto something. NPR has convinced a large chunk of red America that its reports are hopelessly biased or elitist, or both. In early 2011, even before the James O’Keefe scandal in which the young videographer captured NPR’s director of development engaged in stereotypical bashing of conservatives and questionable comments about Jewish-owned media, the network was in trouble. It surived a House vote to defund it by only 228 to 192.
You’d be surprised how many charities now getting public grants would be fine without government aide. The amount in tax breaks a charitable deduction can provide is usually enough to help, even in tough times.
The problem right now — or at least since the Great Society — is that we have a system set up where it is more about obtaining a government grant than actually getting money from the private sector to help aid in their mission. During my days at HUD — and I frankly doubt this has changed in the four years since I left — the top FOIA requests had nothing to do about administration transparency. They were all about trying to get their hands on the previous year’s top grant proposals.
Groups wanting government money wanted to copy what those previously successful had done before them.