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Mr. Rogers 1969 defense of PBS goes viral [VIDEO]

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   Oct. 9, 2012 at 9:52 AM   |   Comments

Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Mitt Romney's comments about cutting funding for PBS, Big Bird, and even Jim Lehrer, caused quite a stir among social media users after the first presidential debate last week, reviving discussions about the importance of public television programming in the face of soaring government debt.

Thanks to renewed interest in PBS and shows like "Sesame Street," this 1969 video of a young Fred Rogers ("Mister Rogers' Neighborhood") defending the value of public children's programming has resurfaced on the internet.

At the time, budget cuts threatened a $20 million grant to PBS. In the video, the children's television host makes a passionate appeal to then-Senate committee chairman John Pastore, who is visibly moved by Rogers' poignant plea.

"I'm supposed to be a pretty tough guy and this is the first time I've had goosebumps for the last two days," says Sen. Pastore near the end of the video.

Here's part of Rogers' statement:

I'm very much concerned, as I know you are, about what's being delivered to our children in this country. I've worked in the field of child development for six years now, trying to understand the inner needs of children. We deal with such things as the inner drama of childhood. We don't have to bop somebody over the head to make drama on the screen. We deal with such things as getting a haircut. Or the feelings about brothers and sisters. Or the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively.

We've got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care. 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. 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.' And 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.

[Video via Today.com]

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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