By now it’s common knowledge that Ron Schiller, NPR’s already-lame-duck fundraising executive, was punk’d by serial liar James O’Keefe. The scuffle over Schiller’s inconvenient truth-telling about the Tea Party notwithstanding, Schiller’s off-the-cuff comment that NPR would be “better off” without federal funding is interesting. Although this puts me in the “wrong” camp, I’m inclined to agree. Federal funding muddies the waters, since the federal government is one of the key institutions being covered by NPR. Furthermore, it forces NPR into contortions as waves of new legislators see an opportunity to score points. I agree the transition would be very difficult, and perhaps a compromise is to “zero out” NPR after a several-year transition process. But ultimately I think NPR would be better off without (direct) federal funding. Of course as a deficit-reduction measure it’s idiotic since the amount of money we’re talking about is roundoff error, but that’s not a reason to deprive the loony new right of a talking point.