House Rejects Bill to Defund NPR

Measure — unanimously supported by Republicans — defeated 239-171

Last Updated: November 18, 2010 @ 3:17 PM

While Roger Ailes was busy crafting an apology to the Anti-Defamation League for calling NPR executives “Nazis,” House Democrats rejected a bill — supported unanimously by Republicans — to defund NPR.

The measure, proposed by Republican Whip Eric Cantor, was defeated in a 239-171 vote, with only three Democrats joining the Republicans. (One of them was Arizona's Gabrielle Giffords — who you'll recall was one of candidates that Keith Olbermann donated money to before the midterms, leading to his suspension and sparking a media debate about political contributions.)

"When NPR executives made the decision to unfairly terminate Juan Williams and to then disparage him afterward, the bias of their organization was exposed," he said in statement before the vote.

In their own statement after the measure was shot down, NPR said, "good judgment prevailed as Congress rejected a move to assert government control over the content of news."

The non-profit news organization called the measure “an unwarranted attempt to interject federal authority into local station program decision-making.”

"In an increasingly fractious media environment, public radio's value in fostering an informed society has never been more critical. Our growing audience shows that we are meeting that need," NPR said.

"It is imperative for federal funding to continue to ensure that this essential tool of democracy remains available to all Americans and thrives well into the future."

Cantor fired back.

“Barely two weeks after an historic election, House Democrats demonstrated today that they are still not ready to listen,” he said. “News organizations are free to do, say and operate on their own terms, but that doesn’t mean that taxpayers should be forced to fund them.”

Cantor added: “If the Democrat Majority wants to continue to ignore the will of the people that’s their prerogative, but the new Republican Majority will not follow suit next year.”

The idea has been gaining at least some traction. Last week, the National Commission for Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan committee charged with cutting the federal budget, published the first draft of the plan that would save the federal government $200 billion over the next five years. Among its recommendations: cut federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — specifically, NPR and PBS.