It is pledge time at MPR: Why I am not a member of NPR/MPR (again this year)


I confess. I listen to NPR/MPR Radio. It is one of the best places to find out what is going on at the Capitol in DC and St. Paul. (American Public Media is doing some great marketplace tech stuff.) I just put it through my filter.

As I prepare for battle each day, I switch between government supported-news on 99.1 FM, Justice & Drew at 1130AM KTLK and Hugh Hewitt on 1280 AM The Patriot.

And I confess that because I am an avid fan of KSJN Classical Radio 99.5 FM, I have on occasion donated to that program specifically (you can do that). I tend to turn this on later in the day when I need some Puccini to sing along to on my way home. At KSJN, they report only headline news without commentary and stay focused on the music.

But I resisted all the arguments again for making a pledge this year to public, that is taxpayer supported, radio.

First, why is the government forcing me (and you) to pay for someone else’s speech via my tax dollars? Why am I supporting a swarm of reporters and commentators who spend all day trying to defeat the ideas I believe in and work to promote?

Does that not violate my right NOT to support someone else’s speech? Why does America have public radio? You expect that in North Korea, Iran or Cuba, but here, where we have a robust understanding of the First Amendment? No.

Second, as a long-time listener, I am pleased to report that since Trump was elected, I think NPR/MPR got and read the memo: You either shape up and play (more) fair, or your funding is going to get cut. There is a concerted effort to be more “balanced.” But only here and there. You do not change 50 years of culture and a sense of elitist entitlement overnight.

Here is a picture of their new HQ in Washington, DC.

Which brings me to this year’s pledge campaign and why I will not give MPR a dime. Ever. I promise, so long as it is government radio. We’ll talk if they get off the dole.

Last week, the President announced that his administration would stop making subsidy payments to insurance companies designed to prop up Obamacare. Congress was supposed to pony up the money but never did. That means that the subsidies are illegal. Both Obama– and even Trump paid the subsidies. Trump was waiting for Congress to act but now that it is clear Congress is not going to repeal or reform Obamacare anytime soon, Trump is pulling the plug. Good.

The exchange between the host Steve Inskeep and White House correspondent Scott Horsely sealed why taxpayers should not have to pay one thin dime to government radio.

Their conversation was not reporting; it was commentary parading as reporting. And they are so convinced of their righteousness, so lost in the beltway and secure in their own health care insurance, that they could not hide their hysteria or breathless, agitated state.

Here is just a sample:

INSKEEP: And the president’s been pretty frank about that. In fact, he’s on Twitter again this morning saying Obamacare is imploding. Are you telling me that this is really an effort to help make Obamacare implode?

HORSLEY: Yes. And this is just one of the ways that the Trump administration has sought to turn that forecast of implosion into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The administration has also made it harder for people to sign up for insurance through the exchanges by shortening the upcoming enrollment period. They have promised to shut down the website to sign up on a weekly basis for maintenance. They’ve gutted the marketing budget that was intended to help attract more people into the insurance exchanges. And also just yesterday, the president signed an executive order that relaxes the rules for alternative forms of health insurance, which could result in a price break for young, healthy consumers but wind up driving up prices for those who need insurance the most.

What they wanted you to hear: Trump is hurting poor people. And everybody’s premiums will go up. Its evil. You should be outraged.

The day before, Horsley Tweeted, “The Trump administration makes good on its threat to end cost-sharing subsidies for insurers. This will guarantee bigger premium hikes.”

Here is another snippet:

INSKEEP: Scott, are you telling me that everybody’s insurance premiums are going to go up at least a little bit, maybe a lot because insurance companies have to compensate for the loss of this subsidy?

HORSLEY: That’s correct. People in the insurance exchanges of Obamacare…

INSKEEP: People in the insurance exchanges – people doing it…

HORSLEY: …Not necessarily people who are getting their insurance through their employer which, of course, is the bulk of the market.

INSKEEP: Yeah, but we’ve been hearing…

HORSLEY: ….But for people in the individual insurance market – yes, this will raise their premiums.

The moral of the story is, if you want the real skinny on health care news, ask Peter Nelson here at the Center. Here is Peter’s take.   If your blood pressure is under control, you can listen to the entire exchange here.