Every time someone Congress considers reducing federal funding for public broadcasting, PBS lobbyists and liberal Democrats trot out Muppets and lovable cartoon characters in their defense. Chris Moody of the Daily Caller reported that a human-sized Arthur the Aardvark stood behind liberals today on Capitol Hill as they pledged to protect PBS.
The friendly but silent aardvark joined Democratic Reps. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and others to hit back against Republicans who have pledged to cut the funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the next budget.
“We need your help today,” Markey said as a person dressed as the character walked toward the Capitol building. “We can’t leave Arthur and all of his pals in the lurch.”
The members stood behind dolls of Sesame Street’s Big Bird, Grover and Elmo. Behind them, House aides held up signs showing Bert and Ernie being handed a letter that reads, “GOPink Slip: You are fired,” and another that showed cartoon characters being tossed away from a scale weighed down by “Big Oil.”
“We’re here to create jobs, not lay off Bert and Ernie,” said Rep. Nita Lowey of New York.
Rep. Lowey used the same tactic in a January 1995 House hearing, putting Ernie and Bert puppets on her hands. (I was there. She and Nancy Pelosi talked to each other throughout most of the conservatives' testimony.) In fact, Lowey's website claims her puppet act was recognized worldwide for saving PBS:
When GOP leaders threatened to eliminate the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the 1990s, Lowey "invited" puppets Bert and Ernie to a Congressional hearing. The resulting worldwide publicity is largely credited with saving the agency.
It could surely be said that the first month of Republican control in 1995 was a high water mark for PBS funding fears. But the idea that PBS was on the brink of termination is as overwrought as the idea that it was saving by a Congresswoman wearing hand puppets.
Liberals still can't stand the idea that at this late stage of television history, PBS or NPR stations could continue without government subsidies they constantly suggest are only 2 to 15 percent of their budgets. Instead, they drag out the kiddie characters in a hoary attempt to intimidate the Congress. Moody reported that the thought of reverting to only free-market, consumer-driven broadcasting would be “like treating the Library of Congress as an amusement park rather than as a seat of knowledge,” said Rep. Paul Tonko of New York.