House committee may investigate NPR

Time to reopen the great CPB debate.

There’s a line of thought among those who oppose public funding of radio and TV that goes beyond the traditional “they’re too liberal.” It says that if you create a link between the government and a broadcast operation, sooner or later the government will get involved in the editorial content.

The reality is that the government — by way of the FCC — already is involved in content requirements but for the most part, politicians are at an arm’s length.

Until now.

Broadcasting and Cable magazine reports that a House committee wants to investigate the editorial standards of National Public Radio:

The House Energy & Commerce Committee plans to “examine certain editorial and employment standards and practices at NPR,” as part of its communications oversight, according to a committee oversight plan, a copy of which was supplied to B&C. It cites “recent controversies involving NPR.”

Those would be the firing of commentator Juan Williams, an ensuing investigation into that firing, and the resignation of the person who made that decision, Ellen Weiss, NPR Senior VP, News, It also plans to investigate the financing of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funds to NPR and PBS, to determine whether that funding should continue.

By the way, tomorrow on NPR’s Talk of the Nation (around 1 p.m. CT for you MPR listeners), there will be a discussion on the future of public broadcasting.