Fox, WSJ personalities shocked by arts grants, but Bush funded same groups

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Several media figures on Fox News and Fox Business -- including Glenn Beck -- have blasted the National Endowment for the Arts for awarding Recovery Act grants to San Francisco arts organizations, claiming the grants will pay for "porn." However, those personalities ignored significant facts: Direct grants were only made to organizations that were screened to receive funding in the past, and every group they criticized previously received tens of thousands of dollars from the Bush administration.

Fox, WSJ personalities criticized NEA Recovery Act grants to San Francisco arts organizations

Beck claimed NEA "may be spending stimulus money on 'pervert reviews' and underground porn." On the July 30 edition of his Fox News show, Beck said: "Now, our old friend, the National Endowment for the Arts, may be spending stimulus money on 'pervert reviews' and underground porn." He described the grants as "controversial" and later commented: "I don't know about you, but this is exactly where I wanted my hard-earned dollars going. It's great."

Fox's Greta Van Susteren: "Do you want your tax dollars paying for porn?" "[W]hose idea was this?" On the July 30 edition of her Fox News show, Van Susteren said: "If the last story didn't make your blood boil, maybe this one will. Do you want your tax dollars paying for porn? ... The money was supposed to be spread around to different arts groups nationwide, but apparently some of the grants handed out by the NEA go to rather risqué places." She later asked: "So whose idea was this?"

WSJ's Stephen Moore called grants "obscene overspending" and claimed money is going to "projects ... many Americans would feel immoral." On the July 30 edition of Fox News' On the Record, Moore said, "Well, you know, we have been talking in recent weeks about the obscenity over federal spending. This is literally obscene overspending. It's money for things, like you said, porno horror films. ... There is also pervert art and movie reviews. I don't exactly know what that is. I'm not part of that culture." He later added: "But now we find out that it is going to projects that are just -- many Americans would feel immoral, and they should be outraged that this is the way that their tax dollars are being spent."

Fox Business' Eric Bolling: "You want to talk about outrage? Spending our stimulus and tax dollars on that kind of stuff is just absolutely outrageous." On the July 30 edition of Fox Business' Happy Hour, Bolling said: "I want you to tell -- $80 million of your stimulus money went to the National Endowment for the Arts." After describing some of the projects supported by the organizations, he said, "You want to talk about outrage? Spending our stimulus and tax dollars on that kind of stuff is just absolutely outrageous."

Same arts organizations received money from Bush administration

All groups criticized on Fox received funding from the Bush administration:

COUNTERPULSE

2009: $10,000 (Announced December 4, 2008) "To support the Artist Residency and Commissioning Program for local emerging and mid-career choreographers."

2008: $10,000 "To support the Artist in Residence Program for local emerging choreographers."

2007: $10,000 "To support the Artist in Residence program for local emerging choreographers."

FRAMELINE

2006: $20,000 "To support a conference. Persistent Vision will concentrate on strategies relating to exhibition, distribution, and support for filmmakers."

2005: $15,000 "To support a curated film and video series."

2004: $20,000 "To support the presentation of a lecture series."

2002: $16,000 "To support the presentation of a film series."

JESS CURTIS/Gravity, Inc.

2009: $10,000 (Announced December 2, 2008) "To support the creation and presentation of culminating events as part of The Symmetry Project."

2007: $10,000 "To support the creation and presentation of a new work by choreographer Jess Curtis."

2005: $10,000 "To support the creation and presentation of a new work by choreographer Jess Curtis."

SAN FRANSCISCO CINEMATHEQUE

2007: $15,000 "To support a curated film and video series."

2006: $14,000 "To support a curated film and video series."

2005: $15,000 "To support a curated film and video series."

2004: $15,000 "To support a curated film and video series."

2003: $15,000 "To support a curated film/video series."

2002: $15,000 "To support On The Edge, a series of residencies for artists, scholars and curators focusing on experimental cinema."

NEA awarded Recovery Act grants only to groups that have been approved for funding in the past. FoxNews.com reported on July 30, "Though the process was sped up, the NEA's 109 panelist reviewers handled the compressed [grant distribution] schedule by giving their $50 million in direct grants only to individuals and groups that have received funding in the past and have already passed muster."

  • NEA spokeswoman: Grants will help "preserve jobs in danger." FoxNews.com reported that NEA spokeswoman Victoria Hutter "defended the agency's choices and said its grants would help 'preserve jobs in danger of going away or that had gone away because of the economic downturn.' " The article quoted Hutter saying: "Our review process is very comprehensive -- we take great care with applicants and with grantees. ... It's a thorough, rigorous process that they all go through, and we're proud of the projects that we've been able to support." [FoxNews.com; 07/30/09]
  • Groups say grants will support their staff, not any specific program. FoxNews.com reported: "CounterPULSE received a $25,000 grant in the 'Dance' category; a staffer there said they were pleased to receive the grant, 'which over the next year will be used to preserve jobs at our small non-profit.' Similarly, the director of Frameline, the gay and lesbian film house, told FOXNews.com in an e-mail that their $50,000 grant was not to support any program in particular." The article further reported: " 'The grant is not intended for a specific program; it's to be used for the preservation of jobs at our media arts nonprofit organization over the next year during the economic downturn,' wrote K.C. Price, who listed four other NEA grants his organization has received." [FoxNews.com; 07/30/09]

CounterPULSE: A nonprofit organization supporting community-based art. According to its website, "CounterPULSE provides space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture. CounterPULSE acts as a catalyst for art and action; creating a forum for the open exchange of art and ideas, catalyzing transformation in our communities and our society. We work towards a world that celebrates diversity of race, class, cultural heritage, artistic expression, ability, gender identity & sexual orientation. We strive to create an environment that is physically and economically accessible to everyone."

Frameline: A nonprofit organization supporting LGBT media arts. Frameline's website states that its mission is "to strengthen the diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and further its visibility by supporting and promoting a broad array of cultural representations and artistic expression in film, video and other media arts."

San Francisco Cinematheque: A "respected showcase[] of experimental film and video" founded in 1961. According to its website, "San Francisco Cinematheque has become one of the most knowledgeable and respected showcases of experimental film and video in the world. Our intention is to make these works a part of the larger cultural landscape through three main areas of activity: exhibition, publication and education."

Jess Curtis/Gravity: A "research and development vehicle" for "live performance." According to its website, "Jess Curtis/Gravity was founded in 2000 as a research and development vehicle for very live performance. ... In addition to the creation of live performances Gravity also produces and facilitates educational experiences for both professionals and lay people in movement and performing arts." A San Francisco Examiner review of the work said, "the choreography is carefully calibrated, stunning in it's ever-shifting, tightly controlled dynamism."

Transcripts

From the July 30 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Now, our old friend, the National Endowment for the Arts, may be spending stimulus money on "pervert reviews" and underground porn. I was hoping they were gonna do this. I thought, "When is that gonna happen?"

The NEA was just given $80 million in stimulus dollars to help artists around the country. Stick with me on this story. Most of the money is being spent to save jobs in museum and orchestras and theaters and dance troupes being hurt by the recession.

But some grants are a little more controversial -- uptight people. Fifty-thousand dollars for San Francisco's Frameline film house, which recently screened Thunder Crack, described as, quote, "The world's only underground kinky art-porno-horror film, complete with four men, three women, and a gorilla." I don't know how it ends but, gee, it sounds spine-tingling.

Twenty-five thousand dollars for Counter Pulse -- this is where they hold the weekly Perverts Put Out, described as the long-running pan-sexual performance series. I don't know what a pan-sexual is, but I don't know think I want to know.

It invites guests to "join your fellow pervs" -- I'm quoting -- "join your fellow pervs for some explicit, twisted fun." I don't know about you, but this is exactly where I wanted my hard-earned dollars going. It's great.

From the July 30 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:

VAN SUSTEREN: If the last story didn't make your blood boil, maybe this one will. Do you want your tax dollars paying for porn? Eighty million dollars in stimulus funds -- no pun intended -- were given to the National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA.

The money was supposed to be spread around to different arts groups nationwide, but apparently some of the grants handed out by the NEA go to rather risque places. Just one example: the Frameline film house that runs pornographic movies.

So is that really how your money should be spent? Joining us live is Steve Moore, senior economic writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial page.

Some of those parties look like a good deal. I mean --

MOORE: Yeah, exactly. They should have brought the cameras there.

VAN SUSTEREN: The parties are -- well, actually kill two birds with one stone. But, anyway -- really, porn?

MOORE: Yeah. Well, you know, we have been talking in recent weeks about the obscenity over federal spending. This is literally obscene overspending. It's money for things, like you said, porno horror films. There's one, I guess, with four men, three women, and a gorilla. I don't know what that's about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do I feel sorry for the gorilla? But anyway.

MOORE: There is also pervert art and movie reviews. I don't exactly know what that is. I'm not part of that culture. Nude sex dances, things like that. But, by the way --

VAN SUSTEREN: Nude sex dances, we're paying -- wait a second. Stimulus money goes for nude sex dances.

MOORE: Right. And this is -- remember, the whole idea of giving stimulus money, which is supposed to be creating jobs, for the National Endowment for the Arts was absurd in the first place, $80 million. But now we find out that it is going to projects that are just -- many Americans would feel immoral, and they should be outraged that this is the way that their tax dollars are being spent.

Remember, this is the agency about 10 years ago, remember, that funded piss art with a crucifix in the toilet. This is the kind of art that the National Endowment for the Arts funds.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, whose idea was this? We know whose idea -- I always want to know, like --

MOORE: I wish I knew whose --

VAN SUSTEREN: -- who comes up with these good ideas --

MOORE: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: -- so to speak?

MOORE: Well, this is sort of the arts community. And now some of the money, look, goes to things like orchestras and symphonies, but a good portion of the money is going to this kind of obscene art.

VAN SUSTEREN: But somebody's got to -- someone's got to write -- I mean, I understand orchestras, and I love music, and that's in a whole other category. But for the porn --

MOORE: Right. They have an arts reviewer.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, someone's got to make -- someone's got to make a decision.

MOORE: Yeah, somebody pulled the switch and said -- right.

VAN SUSTEREN: See, this is a good place to put taxpayer money. I'm going to write the check for how much?

MOORE: That one was, you know, several hundred thousand dollars.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, and we have people who can't make mortgages.

MOORE: And people -- whenever you talk about -- I mean, you will probably get, you know, email from people saying, "Oh, you're trying to censor people." Nobody is trying to censor anybody here.

If people want to, you know, have porn movies and things like that, that's fine. They just shouldn't pay for it with your and my tax dollars. I mean, this is what makes people so angry, is that we're forced to fund things that many people find just highly offensive.

From the July 30 edition of Fox Business' Happy Hour:

BOLLING: And last but not least, I want you to see this video. I want you to tell -- $80 million of your stimulus money went to the National Endowment for the Arts. And two things came to mind. I read the list. Listen to this. One of them, $50,000 to fund a project to Frameline Films entitled, Thunder Crack, the world's first kinky art-porno-horror flick, complete with four men, three women, and one gorilla.

That, and also 25 grand to fund the weekly production of Perverts Put Out, a San Francisco-based web company, guys. You want to talk about outrage? Spending our stimulus and tax dollars on that kind of stuff is just absolutely outrageous. Cody -- Rebecca -- Rebecca.

REBECCA DIAMOND (co-host): Do I look like Cody? And what was that video about, Eric? Wow. Girl's butt in your face and everything?

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