In prime-time debates with his rival, Mitt Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer, a PBS newsman, who has worked for PBS since the 1970s, “I’m sorry Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS.”
He went on, adding, “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for things we don’t need.”
To respond the former Massachusetts governor, the broadcasting service released a statement, which read: “Romney does not understand the value the American people place on public broadcasting and the outstanding return on investment the system delivers to our nation. We think it is important to set the record straight and let the facts speak for themselves.”
“The federal investment in public broadcasting equals about one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget. Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt. Yet the loss to the American public would be devastating.”
Romney’s remarked has provoked a strong, emotional reaction among some parents, whose children regularly watch PBS, reports The Huffington Post.
“As a mother of two young girls (5 and 7) raised on PBS, my jaw dropped when Romney made that statement,” Liz Gumbinner said. “The more I thought about it, I went from shock to outrage. It alienated an entire nation of parents.”
“I told my husband, ‘The few mothers of young children who are still behind Romney – he lost them there,'” said Christina Nanof, a 27-year-old mother in Potomac, Md.
“Even a lot of the fathers of young children, I’m sure, were like, ‘What? You’re not getting rid of Elmo! There will be riots in the streets!'”
Jessica Pieklo, a 38-year-old law professor, was “rendered speechless” by Romney’s comment.
“We don’t have cable, so PBS is the only children’s television my kids have,” she said. “The idea that we would lose that, or that it would be privatized — it’s shocking to us for a whole lot of smart reasons and a whole lot of emotional reasons.”
Thought mothers are not single-issue voters, but for many parents, Romney’s lack of support for PBS means that the candidate being out of touch with women.
“It seems absurd, being a father of five, that he doesn’t get how absolutely fabulous that show is,” blogger and single mother Laura Roe Stevens said. “Whether you’re a parent in graduate school, or working full-time, Big Bird means a lot.”
Twitter is also swarming with the anxious posts devoted to Romney’s vow to cut the subsidies for PBS.
“Blaming the deficit on welfare/PBS/NASA is like saying your company went bankrupt from mismanagement of the take a penny/leave a penny tray,” one person tweeted.
“Cutting PBS support to help in balancing Federal Budget is like trimming your toe nails to lose weight as your diet plan,” the other tweeted.
By the way, not only adults are those to criticize the former governor. Eight-year-old Alabama resident Cecelia Crawford was also dissatisfied with the candidate’s remarks during the debate on Wednesday night.
On Thursday morning, she was still angry, so she wrote Romney a letter. Crawford wrote that she is a fan of “Sesame Street” and that it was her “favorite show on earth” when she was younger.
“When I grow up I’m going to get married and I want my kids to watch it so do not cut it off,” Crawford wrote. “You find something else to cut off!”