With the Libya terrorist attack coverup, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, the Chevy Volt, attack on First Amendment religious rights and any of a couple dozen more scandals produced by the current occupant of the White House, liberals have decided that the crucial issue of the day is that Mitt Romney is “trying to kill Big Bird.”
The mock outrage was generated when Romney, during the first presidential debate, mentioned he wanted to get rid of the government subsidy for PBS, which, as all liberals know, is all about “Sesame Street.”
Romney doesn’t want to kill PBS, of course. He even mentioned that he likes Big Bird. He just wants PBS to stand on its own feet and not have taxpayers pay for it.
There’s no reason that PBS couldn’t succeed on its own. The $450 million government subsidy for PBS is only about 15 percent of PBS’s annual budget. The rest comes from members’ dues, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, corporations and private donors.
There’s no reason PBS couldn’t set up an advertising department to cover that 15 percent and keep most of its current format.
PBS is a broadcast dinosaur that was created some 50 years ago when there were three networks, no cable, and a lot of low-brow entertainment on TV. Now, the low-brow aspect hasn’t changed, but most people have cable with 100 or more stations to choose from. Even those who stick with over-the-air broadcasts can often have scores of channels thanks to digital technology.
The original concept of PBS was to provide intellectual or at least stimulating programming that was an alternative to the three networks. But what reason is there now to continue using taxpayer money to fund it?
Many of the liberal arguments have centered around comparing PBS’s subsidy to the amount of money spent by the Pentagon. It strikes me that if PBS was really successful in raising the intelligence of its viewers, then the people making those arguments would realize the absurdity of comparing the importance of Oscar the Grouch to national defense. But let’s not belabor that point.
It seems strange that liberals should focus on “Sesame Street” as the prime example of why PBS deserves to be saved. Maybe I was born a curmudgeon, but even when I was a young child, “Sesame Street” came across as a little too stupid to be worth my time.
I mean really, “Two … TWO apples … mwah-ha-ha-ha”? Funny once, maybe, but over and over and over? No. (When the local college put on the play “Dracula,” on the other hand, I insisted my father take me so I could see a “real” vampire. Dubious parenting on his part, perhaps, but it was my first theater experience and well worthwhile.)
Not that I wasn’t as addicted to television as the next kid of my generation, but for my money, the most educational bit of children’s television ever made was “Schoolhouse Rock,” the series of animated shorts that ran during commercial time on Saturday mornings.
The brainchild of advertising agency McCaffrey and McCall, “Schoolhouse Rock” used music to teach a generation of kids grammar, math, history and more.
The true value of the series was made obvious to me when in a high school history class the teacher brought up the preamble of the Constitution and every last student in the class sang it word for word, as we had heard it in “Schoolhouse Rock,” in a spontaneous burst of knowledge the likes of which I doubt happens often in public schools.
Now that was educational television. Big Bird should pay attention.