Retired United States Army General Stanley McChrystal published an impassioned op-ed in The New York Times on Wednesday, pleading with Washington to think twice before cutting funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
“As our leaders in Washington confront tough decisions about our budget priorities, I urge them to continue federal funding for public broadcasting,” he said. “Public broadcasting makes our nation smarter, stronger and, yes, safer.”
The budget proposed by the Trump administration last month suggested cutting all federal funding to the CPB, which helps fund PBS and NPR. The CPB annually receives about $500 million from the federal government.
The Trump administration has said that the country must cut spending in places like CPB so it can afford to keep the country safe by raising military spending, which the White House proposed increasing in the next fiscal year by $54 billion. But McChrystal takes issue with that dichotomous approach to running the country.
The CPB, he said, is “a small public investment that pays huge dividends for Americans. And it shouldn’t be pitted against spending more on improving our military.”
“That’s a false choice.”
The 34-year veteran argued that public television teaches children to be “curious, resilient and empathetic,” filling a need by helpings kids learn “social-emotional skills like persistence and self-control” in homes where the parents aren’t always around.
The suggested cuts to the CPB would hurt NPR and PBS, but prove devastating to local broadcast and radio stations, where more than 90 percent of CPB money is allocated. Many of those stations exist in more rural areas where educational resources are scarce, making them all the more valuable.
McChrystal retired from the military in 2010 after Rolling Stone published an unflattering profile of him, in which those around him were highly critical of President Barack Obama and others in the administration. He has since founded a consulting firm.
Last year, he said he would decline “any role” in the Trump administration. Today, he made clear that safety at home is established on different grounds than it is abroad.
“We need to defend against weaknesses within and enemies without, using the tools of civil society and hard power,” he said. “We don’t have to pick one over the other.”