Forum

Trump wants to slash funding for CPB

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

President Donald Trump is finding himself in a time crunch yet again. With so much on his agenda, he has shaken up America with a presidency and administration like no other in American history. Now, it is his time to propose a budget for the fiscal year of 2019. Already, his plan has not been sitting well with many Americans.

Part of the proposed budget includes a two-year elimination of federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which provides federal funding for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) stations. Perhaps, Trump sees this as a way to shave off $300 billion in new spending. Maybe, he has faith that private donations — currently CPB’s primary source of funding — will more than compensate for federal contributions. Although NPR and PBS probably aren’t going to fall into oblivion should the budget pass, it is important to realize what kind of message Trump is sending by completely ending federal funding for CPB, even if it is for only two years.

When the founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, they put freedom of speech as the First Amendment for a reason. They wanted to have a country founded on democratic values where each man can pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Although we, as a society, are trying to expand those pursuits to everyone in America, one thing has remained true: we want to keep a democratic society. What do democratic regimes require that nondemocratic regimes lack? Personal freedoms and an open press.

Now, the First Amendment is not some sort of invincibility cloak that allows you to flee any possible consequence. However, the First Amendment protects the rights of Americans to express their minds and be a part of the society in which they live in. Sure, someone has the right to be offended or give some sort of negative response to whatever you have to say, but the First Amendment gives you that same right to say those things to begin with.

By pulling out all federal support from CPB, the White House is saying that it has better things to spend its money on than the core fundamentals of democracy. This, in combination with our current president’s love of the term “fake news,” and the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to end net neutrality, all comes to suggest that the current administration wants to discourage the First Amendment.
Trump has not shown himself to be a huge believer in the First Amendment, to begin with. He threatened to end the Johnson Amendment, "open up" libel laws so that he could sue journalists who gave him negative coverage and “win lots of money,” and, of course, he loves the usage of the term “fake news.” Of course, Trump has every right to feel dissatisfied with how the press covers him and clear up any falsities as he deems fit. However, his tactics are beyond critiquing journalism or press coverage. His plan to end funding for CPB was the cherry on top of his anti-media sundae.
The budget has yet to fully go through, and there are far more aspects that need discussion. However, without freedom of speech, we cannot bring these topics into perspective. A democracy is supposed to be run by the people, for the people. If Trump cuts off this circulation, he puts the future of America at stake.