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Fred Rogers joins Big Bird in defense of PBS

Mackenzie Dye

Fred Rogers is known for his PBS show 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'

Mr. Rogers appears in viral video from 1969

Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood speaks from 1969 in defense of PBS in viral video. The video’s relevence is evident in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s threat to cut funding during the first presidential debate. In the video, Rogers emphasizes the importance of PBS in children’s educational television.

In the video, Fred Rogers goes over the initial budget for Mr. Rogers’, which was a mere $30 dollars per episode. After funding from several contributors like the Sears-Roebuck Foundation, National Educational Television and all affiliated stations, the program had a program of $6,000 dollars at the time of the video.

Despite how much $6,000 seemed to be as a budget for the program, Fred Rogers emphasizes the difference between his show and other programs aimed for children, like animated series.

“It may sound like quite a difference, but $6,000 pays for less than two minutes of cartoons; two minutes of animated, what I sometimes say, bombardment. I am very much concerned, as I know you are, about what’s being delivered to our children in this country,” said Fred Rogers to Congress, “We deal with such things as the inner drama of childhood.”

Fred Rogers and his sentiments come at a time when Mitt Romney is threatening to take away public broadcast by cutting PBS funding. As if it was spoken directly to Romney and those who agree with him, Rogers says in the video that what is taught to children on programs funded by “viewers like you” is important because it teaches children they are cared for.

“We’ve got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care,” Rogers said. “And this is what I give: I give an expression of care, every day to each child to help him realize that he is unique.”

Just as those from Sesame Street (see Big Bird’s appearance on Saturday Night Live) are defending the values taught during their programs today, Fred Rogers believed that programs on PBS do a service to children’s mental health. He says in the video this expression and teaching of care is something not to be thrown away.

“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 world like you, and I like you just the way you are.’ I feel that if we and public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health,” said Fred Rogers to Congress.

Although the video is from over 40 years ago, once again YouTube has shed light on a moment from the past that still has relevance in today’s world. Fred Rogers’ educational show for children ran for 33 years, and ended two years before his death in 2003. 

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