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Former General McChrystal: Public Media Make Us Safer, Stronger

A former high-profile Army general has broken ranks with President Donald Trump over zeroing out federal funding for noncommercial TV and radio.

Trump, who has named high-ranking former military officers to high posts in his Administration and campaigned on boosting the military and the treatment of its members, proposed eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in his draft budget.

But in an op ed in the New York Times, retired general Stanley McChrystal, a West Pointer who ultimately commanded all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said there was room for defense and noncom spending.

He says public media give young children the education and social skills that ready them for life, including skills needed for military service, such as persistence and self-control.

He said that noncommercial TV and radio help build public trust, unite the nation, and make it "smarter, stronger, and, yes, safer."

"It’s a small public investment that pays huge dividends for Americans," McChrystal concluded, "and it shouldn’t be pitted against spending more on improving our military. That’s a false choice."

The President may have an uphill battle in his own party. At an appropriations hearing last week in the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) didn't sound like someone who wanted to axe the funding for CPB, funding being defended passionately by the former co-director of the Republican National Committee, CPB president Patricia Harrison.

The President only proposes budget items. It is up to Congress to approve the budget.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.