TV

PBS, NPR advocates should stay on low boil

Skip the discretion/valor adage.

Try: Silence is the better part of perception.

Several times last week and this week — in anticipation of, and following a budget vote by the U.S. House of Representatives — this columnist received offers from a nice, polite, nonpushy local publicist offering interviews with execs of Las Vegas public broadcasting outlets.

Speaker John Boehner and crew threatened, then indeed gutted funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Florence Rogers (president and general manager of KNPR-FM, 88.9) and Tom Axtell (general manager of KLVX-TV, Channel 10, aka “Vegas PBS”) would have something to say. So have PBS/NPR defenders nationwide.

Why? Obvious, right? CPB accounts for 11 percent of KLVX’s operating budget and 9 percent of KNPR’s, yet cuts would still negatively affect or even cost programs — wrecking the ability to maintain rural stations and a radio reading service for the blind at KNPR, and undercutting educational and cultural programming at KLVX. And yet …

Isn’t it possible that PBS/NPR being in crisis mode every time a budget battle ensues is courting national fatigue over them — a public broadcasting version of Chicken Little?

Writing on its website, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting says: “It is as predictable as can be. Invigorated Republicans announce their intention to kill public broadcasting. … Defenders of NPR and PBS step in to defend the system. Republicans, who were unlikely to win a vote on their plan, retreat for the moment. Public broadcasting is saved.”

Here’s Rogers: “We can’t say it often enough. We can’t be complacent about making the case that we’re worthy of modest federal support. We serve the needs of communities in a way commercial stations do not.” Here’s Axtell: “No one would argue that educational children’s programming should be a victim of a fiscal crisis in this country. These are things people value, especially in a community like ours, with so much concern about educational achievement and dropout rates and being competitive.”

Zero argument. Still, as Nevadans suffer America’s worst unemployment/foreclosure rates — and especially with CPB funding not likely endangered anyway since it’s nearly impossible to imagine the House’s cuts getting past the twin goalies of a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president — even acting like Oliver requesting no one touch his modest serving of gruel seems, well, unseemly.

People are in pain. Given the likely outcome of CPB again exhaling in relief, silence would be the better part of perception.

Word for Word: In this corner – media-speak. In this corner – people-speak. Describing the traffic snarl after last week’s shooting incident on I-15, here’s Aaron Drawhorn of KLAS-TV, Channel 8: “It made the afternoon commute a nightmare.” Here’s a man he interviews: “It inconvenienced a lot of people.”

“Nightmare” vs. “Inconvenienced.”

Melodrama vs. Reality.

Media-speak vs. People-speak.

Must-Flee TV … at least for a week. In the interest of mental health, this column is taking next week off and bringing this columnist along with it. Television shall not be viewed. Sanity shall be restored.

However much of it remains.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.

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