The controversy about all the elitist condescension galloping through the halls and programming policies of National Public Radio are both on point and beside the point. Even if NPR’s appeal were universal, it is not the proper function of government to be funding and controlling media.
Just the same, NPR’s appeal is far from universal. It serves not “the public,” but a slice of it — about 11 percent, according to Sue Schardt, member of an NPR distribution committee. She concedes that those who built NPR “unwittingly cultivated a core audience that is predominantly white, liberal, highly educated, elite” but stipulates that it was “never anyone’s intention to exclude anyone.”
True, but not meaningful. Coca Cola would love to get all the Pepsi people, Mother Jones would love to get all the National Review people, plus Esquire and New Yorker people, plus CBS and NBC and ABC people. But every successful enterprise must target its product.
Schardt believes that the way to answer political challenges to NPR’s funding is to expand the base with a broader appeal. The 30-year incubation period is over, now let’s be all we can be! Prove the nay-sayers wrong!
Fine with me if NPR tries this — or any other audience-building strategy. Just not on my dime. NPR would probably do best preaching to the liberal choir as they’ve always done. But, again, in the marketplace. Don’t make the rest of us pay for it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.