About the Episode

About the Episode

As Congress considers cutting funding to CPB, putting PBS stations across the country in jeopardy, we examine the possible ramifications on early childhood learning if programs such as "Sesame Street," "Between the Lions," and other educational shows are no longer available.

Chapter 1: PBS Cuts

Chapter 2: Austin Jenkins on the Legislative Sessions in Olympia

Chapter 3: Legalizing Marijuana

Chapter 4: The Danger of Chemotherapy Drugs

Watch Full Episode

Statements from Congress about PBS Funding Cuts

Here is a look at how members of Washington state’s Congressional delegation voted on CPB funding cuts, and statements from some members regarding budget cuts. Five of Washington’s Congressmen are members of the Public Broadcasting Caucus -- Norm Dicks, Rick Larsen, Adam Smith, Jim McDermott, and Dave Reichert.

Producer's Notes

Producer's Notes

A Dog in the Fight

In 1989, PBS produced a ten-part series called "Ethics in America." Each episode featured a panel of distinguished guests answering hypothetical questions about ethical behavior. Sticky questions – the kind with no good answer.

One episode called "Under Orders, Under Fire" examined ethical dilemmas in war. Moderator Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor, gave the panel this supposed scenario:

You’re an American reporter covering a war between North and South Kosan. American troops are aiding the South Kosanese. You’ve managed to get behind enemy lines and accompany a unit of North Kosanese. While traveling with the unit, you stumble on a group of American and South Kosanese soldiers. The North Kosanese set up a perfect ambush and are ready to gun down the Americans. What do you do?

Do you stand back and cover the ambush objectively as a reporter, or do you try to warn the ambush victims? In other words -- are you an American first or a journalist?

That show was top of my mind as we here at KCTS debated whether to cover proposed funding cuts to public broadcasting. Congress might eliminate Federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which gives money to both PBS and NPR stations across the country.

At first blush, we thought it was inappropriate for us to cover this story. After all, we have a dog in the fight. KCTS receives about 10 percent of its annual budget from CPB. Wouldn’t it be self-serving to cover the issue? We’re journalists first. Inserting ourselves into the story would be the equivalent of warning the ambush victims.

But on second thought, I don’t think that’s the case. The move to de-fund CPB is largely the work of conservatives who feel that NPR and PBS are too liberal and biased against them. They’ve tried to pull our funding before. So what better way to demonstrate just how unbiased we truly are than to cover this story – accurately, fairly, honestly.

We’ll show you how much money you -- the taxpayer -- will save by de-funding CPB, and what you might lose in terms of quality programs like Sesame Street. We’ll show you how much it would reduce the deficit, and how many PBS stations might go under without CPB help. We’ll let you hear both sides and decide for yourself. Because public television actually belongs to everyone.

Turns out – you have a dog in this fight too.

Ethan Morris, Senior Producer

By the way, if you’d like to see how ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’s Mike Wallace answered the North Kosan hypothetical, click here to watch the YouTube video.

PBS Cuts - March 4, 2011


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

And re:"We’ll show you how much it would reduce the deficit, and how many PBS stations might go under without CPB help."

Will you show how many businesses in the US have also gone under w/out taxpayer help? How about the ones we did support? What's the general feeling on that?

First of all, I'm a Republican. My kid didn't watch Sesame Street or Between the Lions, but only because I couldn't get him to sit still that long - I think both shows are good (particularly BTL, my hands-down fav). Yet he's grown into a very bright child with lot's of A's on his card in spite of that. I won't say I haven't found other shows to be based more on POV than actual reality, but it's a free world. I just change the channel.

I don't think de-funding either PBS or NPR is the end of the educational world as we know it. You (Sesame Street in particular) have made wonderful contributions, but you're not the only option. You've put together some extremely entertaining and creative programs, but we're $14T in the hole. NPR in particular is quite well funded via corporate investments - they don't NEED to be subsidized by taxpayers of any sort, but by all means, make a donation.

Meanwhile, most states are in the hole. They're not receiving enough revenue to stay afloat. Tax rec'ts are down, the govt. isn't receiving enough to stay afloat. We must cut. TV programming isn't a high priority. And quite frankly, you can get out and hustle up some funding yourselves. Just like any other self-supporting business does.


As long as the greed grab is allowed to continue by Wall Street and Corp Street via no intelligent regulations on them by the Federal Gov and the space between the 'have's' and the 'have nots' gets bigger, the system will continue to degrade. And revenue will continue to decline. PBS funding is but funding minutiae in the grand scheme of things in the FED budget. I don't want to be watching just what Corp America wants me to watch. Fox like News stations are not even permitted in Canada because there is an actual law that says you can't lie on the air? PBS broadcasting brings with it a closer semblance to independant thinking not what being shoved at you with a two pronged fork by the private sector. I donate to our local PBS stations and hope they can continue to broadcast thoughtful progamming to minds that need it.


Is it really only $1.35 per person each year in tax dollars? I'd call that money well spent. I'd rather pay for that than have my tax dollars spent on military actions that I don't support.


Story idea: Interview Bill Moyers about his experiences with the Federal Trade Commission under the Bush Administration.


Story idea: How have people in other states targeted state representatives for future defeat when they vote "wrong" on important issues? I want to get even with Washington State Republicans who went along with their party's directive to decrease PBS funding. Can Moveon.org help? How? How can other organizations help?

My "learning takeaway" from the last Republican-based attacks on PBS and specific shows like Bill Moyer's, was that: "Bill M. raised uncomfortable questions about US policy and policy execution under the Bush Administration. Other journalists weren't covering the same issues. [Gee, I wonder why?] Bill attracted credible witnesses [often, whistle-blowers, willing to sacrifice their economic future to make a point] to his show.

His long-standing reputation as a straight and respectful journalist [and a minister who "walks the talk"] made it difficult for Republicans to attack him personally. Instead, they went after the funding for his show.


Only PBS seems to provide such complete coverage of the issues. The fact that this story included the position of the left and the right, the psychological and educational impact, as well as the historical perspective is an example of why PBS is so important. As other media outlets push thier own agendas, programs like this one and News Hour become more important than ever.


I saw the very first episode telecast on channel 9 of Sesame Street.
My sons grew up watching all of the wonderful children's programing every single day of their younger years.Today my husband and I watch more shows on PBS than any other stations. I will say with all truthfulness, that it has been YEARS since we watched the "big 3 networks".We get our joy and our souls feed by the "human" side of life and programs PBS has to offer.


It's unfortunate but true that right-wing zealots have declared war on any form of news reporting that exposes their extremist views. They're using the self-manufactured "crisis" of the budget deficit to attack all sorts of programs, but particularly reporting exposing it. It's a sad state of affairs when our own elected officials try so blatantly to manage their news coverage. (Anything non-Fox propaganda has to go~) Seriously, how stupid do they think we are?

I say PBS, as the last outpost of non-corporate media reporting, owes a a duty to report on it. I rely on PBS for my news. No other source devotes as much time to intelligent reporting and discussion of current issues.


I am a stalwart supporter of public broadcasting. I awake to Morning Edition. I watch the Charlie Rose midday reprise. I listen to All Things Considered before turning to News Hour and evening programing. However, I am beginning to wonder if government should have a role in funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I see that it is going commercial anyway with bull blown ads for oil companies, insurance companies, automobile companies and others. I imagine the drug companies are in there too. So why not just take the politics out of it all together and free up the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's mission to bring us the fact based information that I have come to know and love without having to worry about what the politicians may think. We might even get closer to the truth with the freedom to challenge the politicians without having to pander to their ideological biases to curry their favor when it is time to vote funds up or down. The philosophy, or ideology if you will. of CPB is pretty well established. Let those who wish support it and let the rest be dammed. To be sure, no one else with pick up the quality educational programing for children, or the cultural and informational programing for adults. Do we really want or need for the politicians to be involved???

Post new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
  • All comments are subject to approval.
  • KCTS9.org reserves the right to remove posts, at our discretion, which include inflammatory comments, comments that are off-topic, personal attacks or obscene language, or that are otherwise deemed objectionable.
  • By submitting your comment for publication on KCTS9.org, you agree to abide by our terms of service: http://kcts9.org/terms-conditions