PBS Salaries Draw Ire Amid Talks of Budget Cuts-Outdated! 

Summary of eRumor:

Claims about PBS salaries and NPR salaries began circulating blog sites and social media in the days after President Trump’s budget blueprint proposed cutting federal funding for public broadcasting.

The Truth:

Outdated NPR and PBS salary information from 2011 was circulated in March 2017 by people in favor of  President Trump’s proposal to cut federal funding for public broadcasting.

These reports relied on 2011 Wall Street Journal op-ed written by then-GOP Senator Jim DeMint. He wrote, “If these outfits can pay lavish salaries to their heads, they don’t need taxpayer help,” in arguing that public broadcasting should go private:

While executives at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) are raking in massive salaries, the organizations are participating in an aggressive lobbying effort to prevent Congress from saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year by cutting their subsidies.

Specifically, DeMint took issue with PBS President Paula Kerger’s $632,233 salary, former NPR President Kevin Klose’s $1.2 million salary, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting CEO Patricia Harrison’s $298,884. Later, other critics noted that Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513.

Numerous outlets began re-circulating the old 2011 op-ed in 2017 after Trump released his budget blueprint without funding for public broadcasting.  The site 100percentfedup.com led the charge with a post under the headline, “Pull Back the Curtain on NPR and PBS Salaries! That’ll Convince You Trump’s Right to Cut, Cut, Cut! The post was quickly shared more than 80,000 times, but it’s claims about PBS salaries and NPR salaries are outdated.

PBS President Paula Kerger remains in her position, but her salary had actually risen to $802,978 by 2016. Kevin Klose resigned as president of NPR in 2008. Current NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn received $229,969 in salary in 2015 (far less than the reported $1.2 million salary). Meanwhile, Patricia Harrison’s salary had risen to $434,364 by 2013. And former NPR CEO and Sesame Workshop President Gary Knell resigned in 2013 and was replaced by Kerger.

Meanwhile, Kerger pushed back on Trump’s proposed budget cuts, noting that public broadcasting costs less than $1.35 per year per person, and that it provides grants to hundreds of member stations:

“PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country. The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”

In the end, PBS and NPR salary claims making the rounds in blog sites and on social media are outdated by at least five years.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

pbs salary
Outdated PBS and NPR salary information has been widely circulated on social media.