History Lesson: How NPR Can Wean Itself Off Federal Funding

James O'Keefe's latest sting video has touched off new debate over NPR funding, especially since it captured an NPR executive arguing that the network would be better off without federal dollars. Coincidentally, Michael Barone writes in a column at The Washington Examiner, The National Trust for Historic Preservation faced a Republican-led defunding effort in 1994 and decided not to fight it, emerging stronger in the end:

Rather than fight that effort, Dick Moe, then head of the National Trust and before that a longtime top aide to Walter Mondale, decided to join it. He approached Ralph Regula, the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction, and proposed a three-year drawdown of federal funding.

That would give his organization enough time to develop alternative sources of funding, he thought. And, as he correctly judged, it took the wind from the sails of those Republicans who wanted funds cut off immediately.

In retrospect, Moe has said, it was the best thing that could have happened to his organization. It prompted the National Trust to reach out to citizens and donors who shared its vision. And it allowed the organization to take politically controversial stands without fear of political retribution.

Read the full column at The Examiner.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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