Republicans to Big Bird: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

6-19-05, 9:43 am

What do Big Bird, Elmo and Snuffleupagas have in common? They are a target of the Republican Party. Once again, Congressional Republicans are cutting the budgets of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), as they did under then- House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995. This week, Washington Republicans approved a full 25 percent reduction in overall public funding and eliminated other groups of specific funding for items like the ‘Ready to Learn’ program that provides support for the production of children’s programming like ‘Dragon Tales’, ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog,’ and ‘Sesame Street.’, amounting to nearly a 50 percent overall reduction in funding.

And just what did these treasured characters of Sesame Street do to the Republican Party? According to conservative activists, PBS has a ‘liberal edge.’ Conservative commentator Peggy Noonan wrote in her Wall Street Journal editorial 'Of course it is, and everyone knows it,' referring to the supposed liberal programming. But just who is 'everybody?' Media Matters for America reports a survey commissioned by the Center for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in 2003 found that a plurality of Americans find no political bias in PBS or National Public Radio (NPR). The survey found that 'approximately one-in-five detect a liberal bias and approximately one-in-ten detect a conservative bias.'

Rep. David Obey (WI-D) who has been fighting against the reductions, said the 25 percent reduction in funding for the coming year would be 'disastrous' for public broadcasting as reported by the Boston Globe. PBS is 'is the most valuable resource we have for getting quality programming for children' said Obey.

Maybe Republicans would rather reality-show television be the standard we provide to our children. After all, with an increasing amount of media owners being connected to the Republican Party, that would be a profitable arrangement. Advertisers are anxious to pitch their products to children and the free-market of privately held media companies are unlikely to restrict that access, unlike PBS. Republicans are even anxious to politicize the PBS leadership, by appointing a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Patricia Harrison, as the new president of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.

Think Congress should continue to provide taxpayer funding for quality arts, children and educational programming? Speak out by contacting your member of Congress. Lend your voice to the call for an investigation into the politicization of public broadcasting at Hands Off Public Broadcasting.