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Noem Votes to Kill South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Last updated on 2011.03.19

Doug Wiken also gives Noem's Know-Nothing vote a due pounding on Dakota Today.

David Newquist discusses public broadcasting's vital cultural mission on Northern Valley Beacon.

As usual, Congresswoman Kristi Noem did what her bosses told her yesterday and voted to prohibit federal funds from going to National Public Radio, either directly or through local stations paying NPR dues or buying NPR programming. Rep. Noem parrots the bushwah about establishing fiscal stability and having all sorts of other information outlets:

Things have changed over the years as far as having different places that we certainly can get our information in this day and age. I'll tell you that doesn't mean that people don't value public radio, public TV &ndash they certainly do and in South Dakota it's very important to people, but I also think there's a unique opportunity here to stop some of the federal funding that has gone there and allow it to become more of a privately funded enterprise and entity, because I think that that's going to be more responsible in the future [Rep. Kristi Noem, interviewed by Kealey Bultena, "Noem Votes to Eliminate National Public Broadcasting Funding," SDPB, 2011.03.17].

Noem's vote really has little practical effect other than to kill a unique news source in South Dakota and other rural areas:

What a silly exercise. Pulling the plug on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting won't save that much money: $420 million out of a total $3.83 trillion federal budget. And it won't accomplish the GOP's goal of shutting down NPR.

What Republicans don't seem to understand is that funds to CPB are not passed directly on to NPR or PBS; instead, they are given to local stations, which can then choose to use, or not use, their funding to buy programs from NPR and PBS. In real life, NPR gets only 1 percent to 3 percent of its budget, indirectly, from CPB.

NPR and PBS will survive without federal funding. So will public broadcasting stations in bigger markets, with a large listener/contributor base. The real victims will be local stations in smaller, mainly rural, markets, without such a substantial membership base, which depend on help from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — and without which they'll simply have to close their doors [Bill Press, "Saving Big Bird—and Jim Lehrer, Too," The Bill Press Show, 2011.03.18].

Bill Press points out that he's speaking as a talk radio guy against whom NPR directly competes... and he still acknowledges that NPR and PBS provide quality programming unmatched by the free market. Amidst the din of Fox News and MSNBC, Press says NPR and PBS provide "calmer, more balanced reporting, right down the middle."

Rep. Noem's vote wasn't really about saving money: she has supported much more costly and wasteful programs like farm subsidies for folks making over a quarter-million dollars. It's just a petty, partisan trick:

The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] has scored this bill," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif). "˜It does not save a penny. This means that this legislation does not serve any fiscal purpose, but it does solve an ugly ideological one. This legislation is not about reforming NPR. It is about punishing NPR." [Keach Hagey, "House Passes Bill to Defund NPR," Politico:On Media, 2011.03.17]

But sticking it to NPR was so important that Noem supported calling an emergency vote and violating her own party's vaunted rules of giving 72-hour notice on any vote. This bill was posted on Tuesday. So much for Speaker Boehner's promise (but that broken promise is nothing new).

It's really very simple: Congresswoman Noem doesn't want her South Dakota constituents listening to anything but Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the plethora of conservative boosters available across the sparse prairie on our crackly airwaves. Having voices of reason checking the propaganda that cushions Noem's fifth-grade worldview is intolerable. (Besides, all those big words Nina Totenberg uses to explain Supreme Court rulings hurt Kristi's brain too much.)

Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-New York) puts the full silliness of this vote in proper context:

Kudos to you, Congresswoman Noem. Kudos indeed.


  1. larry kurtz 2011.03.18

    Doc Blanchard hosted a fascinating discussion on NPR.

    As a founding listener and devotee of Bill Janklow's idea of public radio for 37 years, my affirmation was cemented by this story:

    In '97, I performed my first of 6 seasons as Mother Ginger in the Black Hills Dance Theater's production of the Nutcracker; Vanessa Short Bull danced the Sugar Plum Fairy. On opening night, her dad brought her likely centenarian grandmother backstage before the show to watch her warm up.

    That was all it took for me to understand how public media funds bridges.

    Mrs. Noem knows not of these things; she, and her family are victims of televangelism and commercial broadcasting as they tout the wonders of jesus and white bread to her children.

    This, too, will pass.

  2. mike 2011.03.18

    If Noem can support an energy product like Ethanol that costs more to produce and uses more energy to create than a there is in a gallon I think she can support State House.

  3. mike 2011.03.18

    Why didn't she support capping farm subsidies at $250,000?

  4. Jana 2011.03.18

    I wish Kristi would stop the charade that this and other cuts are about fiscal responsibility and just admit that these are programs that far right conservatives hate and just be done with it. What a slap in the face to our most vulnerable, women and children that they are told by Kristi that they have had to bear the brunt of these cuts when there are billions and billions of dollars of subsidies to big oil and military contractor fraud that are just sitting there safe and sound from congressional action.

    Kristi, just admit that you are making deliberate choices of where to make cuts and you value some programs over others, no matter who's hurt....lessen of course it could cut into political campaign donations or sucking up to the conservative DC establishment.

  5. Douglas Wiken 2011.03.18

    Noem is a gross hypocrite and ignoramus with brain soaked in GOP and wingnut right mythology floating in space devoid of support by any facts or reality.

    She has been propagandized to the point of some form of insanity. How Herseth-Sandlin could run such a totally inept campaign that the Noem twit could get elected is becoming a tragedy for all South Dakotans who aren't very, very rich.

  6. Troy Jones 2011.03.18

    I read your entire diatribe. After the slurs (parrots, petty, partisan. 5th grade world view), since it appears even you concede NPR will not miss its 1% from the feds, you rely upon a single substantive assertion: "The real victims will be local stations in smaller, mainly rural, markets, without such a substantial membership base." By the way, Bill Press works for NPR. Not really an unbiased source.

    You don't credit the Governor and substantially Republican legislature for not cutting SD Public Broadcasting. From this Sundays Rapid City Journal editorial: "Lawmakers failed to take some ripe opportunities to cut spending, sparing South Dakota Public Broadcasting, the state Cooperative Extension Service and the South Dakota State Fair. Widespread use of the internet has lessened the need for public broadcasting . With so many information sources now available online, it's time to insist public broadcasting become self supporting through private donations."

    According to the SDPB website, "We receive funds from four primary sources: the State of South Dakota, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, grants, and private donations."

    I couldn't find this years budget for SDPB but did find last year's and since it wasn't cut according to the RCJ it is probably close. Last year, the SDPB revenue sources were $4mm from the State, $2mm from the Feds, and $2.7mm from other sources (I assume grants, ad sponsors, and donations). The fed's portion is roughly 23% of the total budget.

    Thirty years ago, I served on the SDPB board and was a ardent listener and viewer. I enjoyed the depth in which they delved into issues and news, science, history, and diversity of the music. Over time and as cable options for science, history, and music expanded, I found the only thing I was ever watching/listening to was news (local, national and international).

    In the last 10 years, it has dribbled down to local news and state basketball tournaments. I still have it listed as a "favorite" on my cable so as I'm scanning channels, I always see what they have playing at night. And, frankly, another Peter Paul and Mary or other folk concert just doesn't interest me anymore and I wonder if this "luxury" during a time we are cutting money to critical government functions still warrants such a subsidy from the public.

    But, maybe like many, I want it to warrant public support. I want it to be a "need" for government support. The SD team/management I think does want to meet a need in this state and I think they work hard to do it.

    Unfortunately, they are the victim of their affiliation of the CPB and NPR which ceased a long time ago to be what was expected of them: A unique source of programming and news not otherwise available. Part of it is not their fault but the advent of cable programming now provides even a greater depth of diverse programming leaving them only a "market position" with regard to news (No longer unique).

    And news where they have really fallen off the turnip truck. For 10 years, I've been frustrated with national and international news which had ceased to be informational but became propagandational. First, it was in the news they chose to cover. And now it is they not only choose the news but they tell me what I should think about it. Yes, there is a need for shows that cover starvation in Africe but could they just once talk about the corrupt regimes which keep them that way? Regimes that are socialist, aligned with either China/Russia/Islamic radicals? Regimes who kill opponents and subjugate women?

    The recent Juan Williams and Schiller/Schiller fiascoes do not surprise me. The CPB/NPR culture had fallen in love with themselves and their own sense of intellectual superiority.

    The mission of SDPB is to "reflect the reflect the diversity of the state's population and breadth of its interests" for "viewers of all ages and walks of life." But when I look at the programming, they don't generally appeal to a broad range of viewers but actually a very narrow range. The few programs that go outside their base could be delivered much more efficiently and cost effectively via other outlets (and would probably have more viewers).

    SDPB has hardly changed in focus since I was on the board (30 years ago) while TV, radio, news, learning has experienced a plethora of change. Its national affiliate has become a shadow of its former self with regards to its diversity of programming, intellectual rigor, and diversity of viewpoints.

    LIke I said, I want SDPB to be a "need" and not a luxury/cheap copy that I can get on my ipod or satellite radio or from another cable channel.

    If they want to satisfy a broad market like their mission statement says, they have to do something to attract me. I might be a conservative but I'm not a neanderthal (even though CPB/NPR thinks they are synonomous). Be it local/high school sports, news, science, history, I can be had. I can even handle it if some of it includes a liberal bent so long as it is intellectually vigorous. But the current drivel surprises me thinking liberals don't gag (or have thinking liberals gone the way of the dinosaur? Just kidding).

    Or, if they are going to narrow their audience, that audience either has to be unique and in need in some way to warrant public subsidy, attract commercial support, or rely on a committed viewership willing to support it with donations. Programs that appeal to '60's hippies for their major fundraisers will not get me to write a check. And neither will Dean Martin Show highlights which I could just buy from Time Life.

    It is sad I've watched/recorded the Sioux Falls public access channel more this year than SDPB.

    The current situation is non-sustainable no matter how loud the liberals want to howl. Failure to fundamentally look at where they are and where they need to be will only accelerate their ultimate demise, for which I'll mourn. I think there is a way for them to be a need and not a luxury (during a time when luxuries get eliminated). But the first step starts with them.

    And, if public broadcasting supporters would spend more time dealing with reality than trying to make a political point, the future would be brighter for public broadcasting. Otherwise, all that will be done is jeopardize the current state funding.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.18

    Among other things, Troy, I don't need to credit the state legislature to lend validity to the statement that Congresswoman Noem is acting against the best interests of SDPB and her own constituents.

  8. larry kurtz 2011.03.18

    Hey, let's defund the Stars and Stripes.

    "A reporter for Army newspaper Stars and Stripes has resigned after being caught with marijuana. Stupid military."

    "The editors at STARS AND STRIPES must be on a short leash from the Pentagon. When they finally covered the fact that teflon-coated Jill Metzger won her demand to be brought back on active duty after sucking up three years of 100% "disability" pay, readers sent in so many angry messages, the comments section at STRIPES was abruptly shut down. So much for freedom of speech!"

  9. Troy Jones 2011.03.18

    CH: Great retort. NOT. It's obvious your interest in this is to try to disparage Noem and find ways to convert this luxury into a need. I'd hate to see happen to SDPB what is happening to NPR/CPB. Just realize this wanton willingness to use public broadcasting for your blatant political agenda will ultimately result in people taking a hard look at the state support of SDPB.

  10. larry kurtz 2011.03.18

    SDPB hasn't gone away because Stan Adelstein, who has also given millions to music in Rapid City schools, gives a shit about your stupid state, Troy.

    I was furious at the RCJ when they ran the vapid Oakes story in the features slide show about keeping the lights on at Mt. Rushmore during a government shutdown and buried Mary Garrigan's outstanding piece on JR LaPlante.

    That's what crap editing looks like when you have to sell your soul to pay the bills.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.18


    Troy, I'm having trouble finding the line on Bill Press's resume that says "works for NPR."

  12. larry kurtz 2011.03.18

    meant to say, "people like Stan."

    Since the TEA wing of the GOP avoided college to grow commodities and sell insurance they hate NPR's link to universities.

  13. Stan Gibilisco 2011.03.18

    I have to agree with Troy. I'll take it further: I do not want my tax dollars going to support left-wing propaganda machines, which, in my opinion, SDPB and NPR both are.

    Although I classify myself as fiscally conservative, and have registered as a Republican primarily for that reason, I have some quite liberal (even radical) ideas as well, so I'm not a pure right-wing ideologue.

    For example, I still favor, to this very day, socialized medicine and population-control education ... The teabaggers would never have me.

    I'd be just as uneasy (though perhaps a little less resentful) if my tax dollars went to a right-wing propaganda machine.

    If there's an audience for NPR and SDPB -- and I know that there is because I listen to them both a lot! -- let them support themselves through member contributions and whatever other private donations they can get.

    As things stand now, I refuse to become a member of SDPB because I am, in effect, already a member, not by choice. If SDPB became entirely self-supporting, I would consider pledging some support, because I really do enjoy that part of their programming that devotes itself to the arts.

  14. Troy Jones 2011.03.18

    CH: I can't find it either and should have checked it out. It was an add-on thought but I have it in my head I saw him with NPR after his name one night. Could be wrong. My fault. Sorry

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.18

    Understood—we strive for accuracy, as always. Bill Press is certainly liberal. But I'll consider that particular point withdrawn. I'm still working on the others....

  16. larry kurtz 2011.03.18

    Can you get Wyoming Public Radio in Lead, Stan?

  17. moses 2011.03.18

    again C.H. is the hero as Dud and name cant understand a reasonable person over like C. h C. take over the war college some of them remind me of Thune saying one thing here and a nother inD.C.CH HOW MANY ARE REPUBLICAN FARMERS WHO WANT FARM SUBSIDIES FROM THE gov then still vote republican.

  18. Stan Gibilisco 2011.03.18

    Larry, I can get Wyoming Public Radio when I go down to Spearfish. Not up here in Lead.

    I love to listen to their music when I run around in Wyoming, usually about this time of year or else in November, when I practically have the whole state to myself.

    I'd miss 'em!

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.18

    Troy: "information sources available online": quantity, but quality? I'd like to think the conversations you and I have, along with the rest of the South Dakota blogosphere, add value to South dakota culture, but even on my best blogging day, I won't claim that the Web provides the same educational and cultural enrichment that SDPB does. Statehouse, Sesame Street, World Cafe (on my radio right now)... what online services provide the same benefits to as many South Dakotans? (That's not a wholly rhetorical question: you may be able to argue that with some concerted effort, we can craft some Web replacement for SDPB.)

  20. snapper 2011.03.19

    Hey Noem always talks about her farm like it is a family operation and that makes people who vote for her think of it like a typical family farm.

    But I thought I heard her say they had like 18 employees when her dad died. Is this true?

  21. David Newquist 2011.03.19

    The ding-a-ling caucus thinks that anyone or anything that does not immerse itself in right-wing cant has a liberal bias. And, of course, liberalism is, according to their representations, the equivalent of HIV.
    Much language is spent in trying to make objective correlatives for personal hatreds. That is the circumstance in which people make up stuff to justify and give ostensible reason to obsessive hatreds. As far as the Juan Williams and O'Keefe episodes go, they are not indicative of the work done hour-by-hour by NPR staff. And, as the Washington Post and AP has reported, analysts who bothered to look at both the short version of the O'Keefe video and the full recording have detailed why the short version, which got the Schillers fired, in no way represents the actual things said at that infamous luncheon. It is grossly misleading.

    No news organization, except for The New York Times (the
    Washington Post has removed itself from that level of reliability) works as hard to stick to facts, verify them rigorously, and cut through the punditry to obtain a clear view of what is happening as NPR and its local correspondents. The charges of bias just cannot be backed up.

    I agree with Schiller that public broadcasting would be much better off without public funds so the right wingnuts do not have a pretext for interfering with a straight news operation that is such a threat to their propaganda agenda. The main problem is to set up a corporate structure that is not subsumed by political agendas. We may just have to hope that BBC and CBC sets up bureaus in the U.S.

    It is truly confounding to contend that public broadcasting efforts are in any way rendered superfluous by cable television, Internet nut pages, or anything coming from the corporate media. The budget entrenchments are very good excuse to cut all those things that pose dangers to America--you know, education, labor unions, competent media, and some churches.

    I think I hear George Orwell snickering a lot,.

  22. larry kurtz 2011.03.19

    We hosted a foster daughter for her final two years in high school. She is still a wild child, but she always aced the current events because she found herself listening with us to Yellowstone Public Radio and is now enrolled at UM in Missoula. The local home school kids? don't ask.

    [CAH: And regardless of the ideology coming out of the radio, isn't there some value in providing our kids and everyone else a chance to get news, music, and other culture without being shouted at to buy something every five minutes?]

  23. Stan Gibilisco 2011.03.19

    "I agree with Schiller that public broadcasting would be much better off without public funds so the right wingnuts do not have a pretext for interfering with a straight news operation that is such a threat to their propaganda agenda."

    + I agree, although I wouldn't put it quite like that. I'd say, I think there's an audience for liberalism and progressivism; let them call themselves "The Corporation for Progressive Broadcasting," "National Progressive Radio," and "South Dakota Progressive Broadcasting" without apology. Or are they afraid that such a tactic would not work? Why not try it and see? If the public can tolerate Rush Limbaugh, why not his counterparts on the left -- straight up?

    "...isn't there some value in providing our kids and everyone else a chance to get news, music, and other culture without being shouted at to buy something every five minutes?"

    + Doggone right there is. As Solzhenitsyn would say, without "spitting in the eye of the passerby with advertising." But I wonder: Must Public Broadcasting rely on the "teat of the State" (as Charles Krauthammer put it) in order to make their thing work? I doubt it. They might even get more revenue if they go it on their own, relying on member contributions and pledges. Heck, as I said earlier, I'd likely join them voluntarily if they'd get their paws out of my front pocket. That not only makes me resentful; it gives me the creeps.

  24. Douglas Wiken 2011.03.19

    Good grief. Because Rush Limbaugh or some prankster selectively edits his trash prank (noted incidentally by Glen Whatshisname), what else indicates the so-called liberal leanings of public broadcasting. I regularly hear programs with Pat Buchanan, David Brooks,Krauthammer, et al on public TV and the conservative screamers and Republicans in Congress have so far only been able to recently find something "liberal" on a satire show.

    The loons can't tell satire from news because they listen so much to rightwing biglie propaganda that is neither news nor satire.

    The liberal leanings of public broadcasting are more mythology from the loons who don't want information of the real world but can only tolerate myths that support their own mythology.

    Harry Truman said something like, I just tell the truth, but the GOP thinks I am giving them hell. It might be paraphrased to something like "PBS, NPR, SDPB, etal present reality and the wingnut loons think they are listening to liberally-slanted news."

    From my perspective, PBS, NPR, SDPB-TV, SDPB-Radio all assume that every real news story with a shred of reality and\or science has to be balanced by a lunatic right perspective that has likely been disproved a hundred times already. That is the current problem with public broadcasting if there is a problem that exists anywhere besides the indocrinated mythology-sotted minds of the wingnut right.

  25. Stan Gibilisco 2011.03.19

    Okay. Let's fund the CPB, NPR, SDPB, etc. 100% with taxpayer dollars -- if and only if they'll agree to officially let the "P" stand for "Pravda."

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.20

    David mentioned them: do England and Canada have bias issues with the BBC and CBC?

    Stan, I don't know if we need to go for 100% taxpayer funding -- as you allude, that may well impose total state control -- but I think the same argument that supports public education support broadcasting: we have an obligation to provide at least one source of news and culture for all citizens, including those in remote areas where commercial broadcasters can't find the business model to serve.

  27. Troy Jones 2011.03.20

    CH: "we have an obligation to provide at least one source of news and culture for all citizens, including those in remote areas where commercial broadcasters can’t find the business model to serve."

    There is no such obligation whether it is moral or legal. Secondly, there isn't a single part of the state which doesn't have access to a broadcast signal of at least two of the major broadcasters for news. Or is it this particular strain of news with its own particular bias?

    So this is about providing culture? I so want this to be a "need" deserving of public support and I think this is the place where it can be. But it can't be the narrow idea of "culture" in the common vernacular. It needs to find it in the broader culture of America, something that is uniting and not divisive. The current emphasis is narrowing and not broadening.

    If liberals continue to hold the recent historical placement of NPR/CPB as a bastion of "progressive" thought, news, and "culture" as the mission, you are only putting nails in the coffin.

  28. larry kurtz 2011.03.20

    Defund the Stars and Stripes; it's influence on the defense industry is responsible for bombing Libya.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.20

    Troy, I don't know what "culture" you are imagining. I'm talking about the programs my daughter watches, including Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid, and Nature, programs she can sit and watch and talk about without being yelled at to get Mom and Dad to buy things. I'm talking about Masterpiece Theater, the American Experience, Ken Burns' Baseball and Civil War, and other programs like that that never dribble out of KELO or KSFY. For that matter, find me anything as good as Bob Ross on commercial television. And Bob Ross is not some bastion of progressive thought.

  30. laurie 2011.10.13

    2012 she needs to be voted OUT she has blocked along with the other Republican's the jobs bill, raising debt ceiling even though Bush did it 16 or more times, she has been acting like the puppet for the gop and not thinking of us here in SD or the poor or middle class all the while it has been reported she voted to keep farm subsities because it is reported her family recieves them. SO cut the poor, the middle class and teachers and the reg person out there and vote to not make the top 2% pay dollar for dollar what we all have to pay along with the obstruction congress has done to all that would have benifit to the normal person trying to just feed their families. Do not fall for the ads she will have on TV, she will be getting as she did before millions for attack ads funded by gop hopefuls and big billionaire co's. Instead check her record, she is NOT for Teachers, firemen, Police, reg min wage workers or anyone but the rich.

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