Fred Rogers Challenges Cuts to PBS Funding Before Senate Subcommittee on Communications in 1969

With the always uncertain future of PBS funding, it’s important to remember that day, 49 years ago, when a young children’s television show creator, puppeteer and ordained minster named Fred Rogers sat before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications to challenge significant cuts to the $20 million in annual PBS funding. Rogers calmly explained his vision to grow a new children’s show to a rather cynical Senator John O. Pastore who exponentially warmed up to the earnest Rogers. Just after Rogers recited the lyrics to “What Do You Do With the Mad You Feel?“, Pastore stated bluntly “looks like you just earned the 20 million dollars”

We we made a hundred programs for EEN, the Eastern Educational Network and then when the money ran out people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the floor and said we’ve got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care. And this is what this is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying you’ve made this day a special day by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you and I like you just the way you are. I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable we will have done a great service for mental health.