What would public broadcasting do with $178 billion?

Americans are convinced 5 percent of the federal budget goes to NPR and PBS. Tote bags for everybody!

Published April 4, 2011 4:15PM (EDT)

Apparently Americans want to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting because they think 5 percent of the federal budget goes to NPR and PBS. That was the median guess in a CNN poll released Friday. If that were true, Talking Points Memo noted, that would mean the CPB would receive $178 billion a year from the government. (And that's not even counting what they get from Archer Daniels Midland and viewers like you.)

BBC, the largest broadcaster in the world, takes in $7.5 billion in income a year. If Americans were right, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would have a bigger budget than every military on Earth besides our own. NPR would beat China in an arms race.

What would the Corporation for Public Broadcasting even do with that kind of money, besides continue to have a liberal bias and support the establishment of sharia law? We have some guesses:

  • "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" would be broadcast live from a moon base.
  • PBS would require a donation of at least $100,000,000 before sending you a DVD box set of a Fleetwood Mac reunion show.
  • $250,000,000 gets you a genuine Thai silk tote bag filled with precious stones. And one DVD documentary on the making of "The Red Green Show."
  • "Frontline" would always be in IMAX 3-D.
  • Robert Siegel and Neil Conan voiced at all times by Kiefer Sutherland and Morgan Freeman.
  • Childrens Television Workshop would purchase the entirety of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in order to film Sesame Street live on location.
  • Click and Clack would be androids.
  • "Are You Being Served?" would be painstakingly digitally altered until funny.
  • Terry Gross would conclude interviews by deciding if the subject lives or dies.
  • Ken Burns documentaries would be produced with original footage obtained via time travel.
  • Every home, office and classroom in the nation would have a radio that can be turned down, but never completely off.
  • Juan Williams would be missing and presumed killed by an unmanned CPB drone.
  • "And part three of our show: What do you do when your mega-yacht's death ray disintegrates your mother-in-law? It's David Sedaris on the best Thanksgiving ever."
  • Garrison Keillor could finally get that thing with his sinuses cleared up.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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