White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended Wednesday President Barack Obama’s request for $451 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which provides taxpayer funds to National Public Radio (NPR), PBS and a slew of other media organizations.
The defense comes at a difficult time for NPR. NPR CEO Vivian Schiller and NPR Foundation’s nonprofit President Ron Schiller were both forced out in the past two days after conservative James O’Keefe released a sting video Tuesday morning showing Ron Schiller making disparaging remarks about the Tea Party and Jews, as well as arguing, contra the official NPR position, that NPR didn’t need federal funding to survive and would be “better off” without it in the long term.
“Everyone agrees that we need to cut spending. The president put forward a budget that does that in dramatic fashion,” Carney said. “We also — that budget also contains within it the president’s priorities, and we’re working with Congress to find common ground, as you know, on the broader budget issues. But we believe that — or rather, we do not support calls to eliminate funding for National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as is evidenced by our budget.”
When pressed by ABC’s Jake Tapper to explain why supporting NPR is a priority of the Obama administration, Carney said, “the budget makes clear the president’s priorities, and among them are the funding at the level that we stipulate in the budget for National Public Radio and for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” Carney then jokingly asked NPR’s White House reporter, Mara Liasson, if she wanted to join him at the podium to respond further to why it is important for the government to provide funds to the news outlet.