(WATCH) Podcasts

Despite record debt and deficits, federal agencies are still managing to find novel, new ways to spend our tax money on questionable things. Lisa Fletcher follows the money when it comes to podcasts you’re paying for, whether you like it or not.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

Podcast audio: Trans people are human too. We also deserve love, especially from our parents.

This is an episode from a podcast called “Purple Royale,” a series covering issues and stories affecting trans and intersex lives. It’s produced in Zimbabwe, Africa, with a $5,000 grant from the State Department.

Podcast audio: This is my story, the story of a survivor.

Over the past four years, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been funneled into projects that involved podcasts.

To give these podcasts their due, many have very interesting discussions on history, science, and even farming — content for a new information age. The debate is over whether federal taxpayers should be forced to foot the bill.

Adam Andrzejewski, founder of the government watchdog group, Open the Books, studied that spending.

Lisa: What’d you find?

Adam Andrzejewski: So we found that podcasting at the federal level is big business. Little did we know that each one of us is paying a podcast tax, but we found $324 million of federal projects that, in one form or another, had a podcast attached to them.

Lisa: Which federal agencies were funding these projects?

Andrzejewski: So you have agencies like the National Science Foundation, you have the Department of Agriculture, you have many of the podcasts funded through the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Sacred and Profane is a podcast funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities, with almost $200,000 in federal taxpayer money.

Podcast audio: “This is Sacred & Profane, a show where we explore how religions shape us and how we shape religions.”

Andrzejewski: And in one of the episodes, they actually — it’s entitled “The Devil’s Advocate.” And they take a pro-Satanist view. They actually say that Satanists have an important role to play in American political life and in America’s religions.

Podcast audio: The Satanic Temple has also come to embrace seven tenets meant to guide their members’ behavior. The tenets include striving to act with compassion towards all creatures, respecting the freedoms of others, respecting science and reason, and the belief in bodily autonomy.

Andrzejewski: Some of this, I think, is just unjustifiable. So for example, you have $446,000 on a podcast through the Department of Agriculture called Regeneration Rising. It says that in America, there’s a system in agriculture and farming that’s systemically racist. If you wanna do that with your own dime, and utilizing your own businesses to make money, and advance a marketplace idea, go for it. But don’t use U.S. taxpayer money to promote the concept.

Lisa: Some people might argue that speech is art. Where do you draw the line?

Andrzejewski: I think you draw the line where the point of view becomes propaganda, and the federal government, or a state or local government, should not be, cannot be, in the propaganda business. So when they’re promoting silly notions or radical ideologies, that’s when you cross the line.

Though while Congress controls the purse, the question might be, who controls the messaging that is being funded by our own government?

For Full Measure, I’m Lisa Fletcher, in Washington, D.C.

Watch video here.

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