At a time when some Republicans are calling to defund public broadcasting, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has added a link on its homepage to an appearance Fred Rogers made before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications on May 1, 1969, when President Nixon was proposing to cut federal funding for public broadcasting from $20 million to $10 million. In the video, Rogers offers a defense for his show over the other kinds of programs made for children at the time.
“I’m very much concerned, as I know you are, about what’s being delivered to our children in this country,” Rogers tells subcommittee chairman Senator John O. Pastore (D-RI). “We deal with such things as the inner drama of childhood. We don’t have to bob somebody over the head to make drama on the screen. 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.”
Rogers asks permission to recite the words to a song he sings on the show, “What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?”
When Rogers is done, Pastore says, “Looks like you just earned the twenty million dollars.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com