As Trump Prepares To Kill PBS, This Clip Of Mr. Fred Rogers In Congress Is More Relevant Than Ever

As Trump Prepares To Kill PBS, This Clip Of Mr. Rogers In Congress Is More Relevant Than Ever

When Fred Rogers Saved PBS From Richard Nixon

As reports emerged in recent weeks that President Trump plans on eliminating arts funding for programs such as PBS, it is worth remembering that this isn’t the first time that such a draconian measure was proposed. In 1969, President Richard Nixon planned a similar assault on public broadcasting but faced a foe in the form of the PBS stalwart and public broadcasting icon Fred Rogers.

President Nixon had plans in place for a 20 million dollar grant that was ring-fenced for PBS to be cut in half. This decision would have unprecedented consequences for public service broadcasting across the United States, especially in the area of children’s programming. It could have affected millions of kids across the country, but thankfully it never got that far because of the intervention of Mr. Fred Rogers. Although considered an icon now, it is important to remember that Rogers was a relative newcomer to PBS when he appeared before the Senate Subcommittee for Communications to defend what he felt was a right for all Americans.

Speaking to the Subcommittee Chairman John O. Pastore at the time, Rogers made the following impassioned plea:

“I’m very much concerned, as I know you are, about what’s being delivered to our children in this country. And I’ve worked in the field of child development for six years now, trying to understand the inner needs of children… We deal with such things as getting a haircut. Or the feelings about brothers and sisters, and the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively.”

The New York Times has reported that Trump plans on making cuts to NPR and PBS despite the fact the savings accrued from doing so would only total an approximate .00625 per cent of his projected 4 trillion dollar budget. It is believed that that the reason for this course of action is to demonstrate that his misguided belief that such programs are a waste to taxpayers money.

In a 2017 where the left and right, liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republican in the United States have never been more divided, we need a 21st century version of Mr. Fred Rogers to come to the fore and stand up for public sector broadcasting. It won’t be easy but then again it wasn’t easy in 1969. However, with the passion and conviction of Mr. Rogers it surely is possible.

Photo Credit: PBS Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

A freelance political writer with a particular interest in writing stories that are under-reported in mainstream media outlets. Especially interested in voting behaviour trends, emerging and marginalized demographics and the impact politics has on culture - music, film, theater. An Irishman abroad, he enjoys sport, guitar music and film.