debeaking and disemboweling big bird

A rumor has been floating around the internet for years now that a move is underway by the Republicans to de-fund PBS (an entity that the American people overwhelmingly support funding). This time, however, it’s apparently real. Tomorrow, the House Appropriations Committee will decide whether to approve severe cuts to NPR and PBS, and all indications are that it will vote in favor of the proposal. Furthermore, a friend of Karl Rove’s, and former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman Patricia de Stacy Harrison is the “leading candidate” to be the next president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the parent entity which sits above the two.

Not willing to go down without throwing a few punches, a few groups are fighting back. Among them are three groups that I admire – People for the American Way, MoveOn, and Media Matters. As they each make the case for saving PBS much more eloquently than I ever could, I’ll just ask that you follow the links and listen to what they have to say… And, I’d also ask that, if you agree, you take a moment and add your name to the well over 400,000 people who have already signed the MoveOn petition.

Here, in case you weren’t going to follow the link to MoveOn, is some of what the folks at MoveOn have to say:

A House panel has voted to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with “Sesame Street,” “Reading Rainbow,” and other commercial-free children’s shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.

The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year–$100 million–and end funding altogether within two years. The loss could kill beloved children’s shows like “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” “Arthur,” and “Postcards from Buster.” Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.

As someone who is looking forward to the day when he can watch Sesame Street with his daughter, I hope you’ll take a minute to either sign the petition, or write your congressperson (or both)… I don’t think I need to tell any of you in the audience this, but freely available, commercial-free television is absolutely essential to the future of our democracy, especially now.

So, do me a favor and don’t let them debeak Big Bird.

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  1. Posted June 16, 2005 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    The saying “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face” comes to mind.

    If the numbers about defense spending are right and the US constitutes half of the worlds annual expenditure ( $1 trillion ) on weapons, then the per capita contribution in the US for weapons is $1,694 ( $500 billion / 295 million ). Compare that to the $369 million in appropriations to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That works out to just over one dollar per capita.

    My opinion is that that one dollar is probably one of the best spent dollars of all my tax dollars each year. I like having an alternative to Radio Rwanda.

  2. Ken
    Posted June 16, 2005 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Yeah, but we could be buying more weapons.

  3. Posted June 16, 2005 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Okay. Signed and sent. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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