In 1969, Fred Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications to testify in support of the Center For Public Broadcasting, which was facing cuts in funding. President Nixon had proposed cutting the budget by half, in part to allocate more money for the Vietnam War.
Four decades later, war is threatening to de-fund public broadcasting. This time, however, it's the culture wars. While one could argue that the de-funding is simply a matter of frugality in a time of economic uncertainty and record debt, there is no doubt that public broadcasting's perceived hostility towards conservative values is the real reason. Droves of conservatives began asking for Big Bird's head on a platter immediately after the firing of Juan Williams for comments he made on Fox about Muslims in October of 2010.
When the heat was on in 1969, Fred Rogers delivered a wonderful and powerful testimonial on the importance of positive, enriching, educational (and commercial-free) programming for children. I don't know many people who did not grow up with PBS and NPR, nor do I know any who can imagine what that world would have been like. I also don't know anyone who can watch the below video without getting a lump in their throat. But where is our Fred Rogers now?