Watch Mr. Rogers' PBS Congress Video & Then Consider Trump's 'America First' Budget Proposal
The White House announced President Trump's first proposed budget for 2018 on Thursday, and it was noteworthy for several reasons, to say the least. Trump and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney proudly defended sweeping cuts to the EPA, the Department of Agriculture, and the arts while touting massive federal spending boosts for the Defense Department and Homeland Security. One well-loved program that looks to be on Trump's chopping block is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For anyone who doubts the relevancy of a public broadcasting system, watch Mr. Rogers' PBS Congress video. His words ring as true now as they did nearly 50 years ago.
Back in 1969, President Nixon was looking to make some budget cuts of his own. Nixon was reportedly not a fan of the liberal tone of PBS, and proposed to cut half of its $20 million annual budget. Enter Fred Rogers. Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was new to PBS at the time, but already gaining favor with kids for its puppets and, of course, Mr. Rogers' trademark gentle voice. Despite being a newcomer, Rogers went before the Chairman of the Subcommittee of Communications John A. Pastore to plead the case for public broadcasting. He spoke for only six minutes, he never raised his voice or lost his temper — and yet his passion and clarity of thought continue to resonate to this day. Especially on this day, actually.
Rogers put forth a persuasive argument about the real cost of public programming in comparison to what children might see on network television:
Rogers went on to share the words of a song he wrote called "What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?":
Needless to say, Congress voted against budget cuts for public broadcasting that year. Pastore even said to Rogers afterwards, according to Esquire:
Mr. Rogers died in 2003, but he left behind a legacy of integrity, of emotional intelligence, and of dedication. Here's hoping the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has another such advocate to defend them in the upcoming months.