Civil libertarian and writer Nat Hentoff is taking on GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s comments on the campaign trail that PBS needs to run commercials instead of take federal funding. In a piece on the website of the libertarian Cato Institute, where Hentoff is a senior fellow, he writes, “If Mitt Romney and his defunding colleagues have their way and commercialize Sesame Street, Big Bird and the other puppets are going to be cajoling their young audience to keep bugging their parents to buy what Big Bird is selling.”
“If Mitt Romney makes these cuts,” Hentoff adds, “he will create a dark hole in our lives that will defy James Madison’s warning — which becomes more contemporary every day: ‘A people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives . . . a popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both.”
Meanwhile, Romney repeated his attack on pubcasting funding in an appearance in Florida on Thursday (Jan. 12), saying, once again, that he’s a fan of pubTV but it needs to support itself through advertising. “I’m afraid Big Bird is going to have to get used to Kellogg’s Corn Flakes,” he said at a stop in West Palm Beach, reports the Los Angeles Times.