With A Little Help From Their Friends

Do you wonder how it is that the left always seems to be rolling in money, with countless millions to spend anytime there is a political battle to be fought? Just how can it afford this level of exposure? Here's one way: it does it.

"2000: Bringing Community Service Home" is a glossy new report issued by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). It boasts that the NAB has "generated $8.1 billion worth of community service" through its Public Service Announcements (PSAs) which have appeared on nearly 5,700 radio and television stations in all fifty states. That, dear reader, is a fortune by anyone's standards.

The PSAs, according to the NAB, are created "through unique collaborations with beneficiary organizations, federal agencies and others" to push what they consider to be appropriate "community service initiatives."

Sounds innocent enough. Indeed, how can you do anything but applaud when the recipients of this free advertising largesse are organizations like the March of Dimes, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Toys for Tots? It is wonderful philanthropy, worthy of glossy brochures that trumpet support for programs promoting literacy, stopping violence, advocating safe gun storage, opposing underage drinking and the like.

Take a closer look at the report and a different picture begins to emerge.

In January of 2000 the NAB launched a national literacy initiative. It chose the National Education Association to create a "Read Across America" PSA encouraging children to read. That campaign earned the NEA millions of dollars of positive, free publicity. Heaven only knows how many new members it generated, too. But do those new members, whose contributions were given to encourage children to read, know their money is funding the war against school vouchers, charter schools and the opposition to the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft? Do those members who support the NEA's political action committee know they are now funding one of the most powerful and most left-wing PACs in America?

The next month the NAB also collaborated with the Human Rights Campaign to "distribute PSAs designed to promote understanding and tolerance." Yes, that Human Rights Campaign group, the HRC that can't understand how, and has zero tolerance for, anyone could object to the homosexual lifestyle. This is the same HRC that led the fight against the confirmation of Ashcroft, going so far as to distort Ashcroft's vote against the confirmation of militantly activist homosexual James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. The HRC web site became a virtual one-stop shop for the Stop John Ashcroft campaign. On the site Ashcroft opponents could sign petitions, contact their senator and representative via e-mail and stay on top of developments. How much financial support was derived from donors who bought the HRC's feel-good message about "tolerance," and is this where ultimately they wanted their money to go?

The NAB also continued its long-running national crime prevention campaign with the National Crime Prevention Council. According to the NCPC the amount of free airtime it received from the NAB amounted to $400 million last year; overall it has provided the group with almost $1 billion in free exposure since the campaign's creation. But what is the NCPC's "crime prevention" agenda? It wants guns - all guns - regulated by law like seatbelts. It wants a one-gun-per-month law. It wants a mandatory three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. And it spends money furiously to lobby for all those things. But the viewers of those NAB ads won't see any of that.

What good "community service" program would be complete without a left-wing environmental component? The NAB proudly states it "assisted several organizations and agencies by distributing their PSAs." One beneficiary: The World Wildlife Fund, which is demanding the United States implement the radical Kyoto Protocols. So left-wing is the WWF that it accused the Clinton-Gore administration of being "cheap" for not offering enough U.S. dollars to implement the Protocols and also claimed that by trying to weaken the rules, the administration was allowing for an increase in air pollution and global warming.

You can hear the NAB screaming right about now. We do not support those specific policies! But by supporting those policies' agents they are doing just that.

Of course, they could prove me wrong tomorrow. Eagle Forum has wonderful literacy programs: Why not give Phyllis Schlafly millions of dollars of free publicity through PSAs? The NRA has terrific gun safety initiatives: Why not do the same for them? And if the NAB truly is interested in tolerance and understanding, how about a few hundred million dollars to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church?

But that would be too controversial, wouldn't it?