| January 26, 2012

Yet another reason to stop funding OETA

OCPA has previously recommended that the state no longer give taxpayer dollars to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA). Oklahoma would not be unusual in taking such an approach, as 17 other states do not provide state funding for public television.

When you take a dollar from someone you make them less free, so tax dollars should be reserved for the core functions of government. They should not be squandered on non-core functions which the free market provides quite capably (such as television programming, golf courses, rodeos, and much more).

But there’s another reason taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize OETA. In early December 2011, I was interviewed by OETA to discuss OCPA’s perspective on taxes, tax credits, and phasing out the income tax. It was a continuous interview that lasted several minutes, with questions from the reporter and answers by me. OETA portrayed to me that the story was going to be a long segment, with much of my interview along with interviews of other people on the same topic. Now I understand that sometimes things necessarily end up on the cutting-room floor. That’s understandable. But when OETA ran excerpts from my interview, my responses were clipped in such a way as to distort my responses and leave out responses that did not fit the reporter’s predetermined story formula.

Liberal media bias is nothing new, of course, and it’s certainly nothing new among media outlets who receive government funding. Still, that December 9, 2011 broadcast of OETA’s “Oklahoma News Report” was startling for its many distortions and untruths. Bad enough were the negative references to “trickle-down economics” and the screen shots of children in a classroom while discussing “winners and losers” from cutting taxes. But what was most discouraging was the bashing of job creators in Oklahoma.

Beginning at around the 09:40 mark of the program, OETA cites the work of the liberal Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and Citizens for Tax Justice as support for why reforming the tax code was going to be difficult. An OETA reporter specifically highlighted the four Oklahoma companies which ITEP calls “Corporate Tax Dodgers” and said: “It is likely to unsettle taxpayers to know that major corporations in Oklahoma are paying little to no state income taxes, which may make the idea of cutting state income taxes more appealing to some, in other words letting everybody in on the game, or the reverse could be the case that people get caught up and demand that everyone have some skin in this game.” Based on what I could find in the archives, no rebuttal or opinions differing from the ITEP report were presented by the OETA.

Of course, the ITEP report ignores the myriad of other taxes totaling hundreds of millions of dollars paid annually by these companies and their employees.

“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves,” Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “is sinful and tyrannical.” Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize PBS or NPR, and they shouldn’t be forced to subsidize OETA’s assaults on job creators.

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