Richard Nixon, like Mitt Romney, wanted to cut PBS.
...Until Mister Rogers showed up in Congress.
Update: I'm happy that Mister Rogers has been recommended. I'll just add one more thing. When Republicans argue that PBS should be made to survive on its own, they do not all necessarily realize the significance of what they're saying. And I just want to point it out for others who may be afraid to ask what the problem is.
Mitt Romney has said in other settings that PBS should go commercial and run ads, or even use product placement. "Have Big Bird look at corn flakes from time to time," he said. But the need to attract dollars from advertisers changes the nature of the content. Attracting eyeballs becomes more important than providing an education. So The History Channel and The Learning Channel morph into unrecognizable traffickers of Swamp People, Pawn Stars and Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. Or we get kids' TV that really is just "animated bombardment," as Mister Rogers says, even when it's packaged as educational so that parents will let their kids watch. Even Dora the Explorer does not do the sort of child development research that PBS and the Children's Television Workshop do to ensure that our children are receiving the best, most effective education we can give them. It's fine to enjoy, but it's not the public service that is ensured by keeping public television publicly funded.
And at 0.00014% of the budget, PBS is the most cost-effective early childhood education our great nation has to offer.
Update 2: LieparDestin has a transcript in an earlier diary.