“Shortly after Richard Nixon took office in 1969, he proposed a dramatic restructuring of American government. The bloated federal bureaucracies, Nixon believed, buried creative entrepreneurship under mountains of red tape and fostered dependency on handouts,” according to the American Experience. Nixon proposed to cut funding for public television in half - from $20 million to $10 million.
Rogers testified before a Senate subcommittee whose chair, Rhode Island Democrat John Pastore, was unfamiliar with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. After Rogers’ seven minutes of testimony, Pastore was convinced. "I think it's wonderful,” he said. “Looks like you just earned the $20 million." In the end, funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broacasting was not cut; instead, it was increased to $22 million.
President Trump has proposed eliminating funding for PBS entirely. It remains to be seen who will step up and defend it to Congress this time, but Mister Rogers already made a start.
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